I spoke once to a Charlton supporter who at the end of a mocking of their arch-rivals Crystal Palace concluded with ‘and they don’t even know what their home colours are!’
I'm not one to get involved with such club rivalry but I did think he had a point. Palace have changed their entire strip and colour scheme several times in the past 50 years with some, such as the Charlton fan mentioned earlier, considering this a hindrance... or at the least an identity crisis. One benefit of this colour indecision is that there has been a rich variety of different Palace kits over the years.
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The Palace kit that makes our countdown actually hails from the latter days of claret and light blue just prior to then boss Malcolm Allison’s complete rebranding of the club and the colour switch to red and blue.
After five years of either light blue with claret stripes or claret with light blue stripes in 1971, the club switched to a predominantly white kit with a claret and light blue vertical panel running down the centre, crafted of course in the style of the day, namely a long-sleeved crew neck shirt. A year later the design was refined to the one you see here, with the addition of a narrow white stripe separating the two colours and the addition of a new round modern badge.
It’s such a simple but strong and effective design, it's a mystery that, save for a few examples of the era (e.g. Chelsea away) this particular style of kit was not adopted by other clubs. In fact in many respects the dual vertical stripe approach could be seen as the forerunner of the ground-breaking sash design that appeared on the Manchester City change kits the following season, and of course famously at Palace a few years later.
Palace have worn so many great kits, but this one seems to neatly ease from one main colour scheme into another, therefore acting as a kind of ‘hybrid’. By 1973, though, the claret and light blue palette was discarded for good, except for a superb reinvention by Diadora in 2005 as a special ‘centenary kit’ (despite the fact that the club didn't actually wear it when they were founded!)
So whether you consider the club to sport claret and blue, red and blue or a be-sashed white, this particular strip deserves recognition as the one that bridged the gap between them all.
Written by John Devlin, founder and illustrator of TrueColoursFootballKits.com.
John can be found on Twitter and True Colours is also on Facebook.
This shirt is part of The 50 Greatest Football Shirts Ever. The full list can be viewed here.