Sunday, 14 April 2013

The Admiral Book of Football 1978

“Welcome aboard... and this is your editor speaking”... With these wonderful words, we’re introduced to a football annual created with only one thing in mind - namely to show off Admiral sportswear. It’s enough to make a football nostalgist positively moist with excitement.

The introduction to this 1978 annual explained why it had come into existence in the first place: “Overseas teams wearing Admiral kit include leading club sides Eintracht of Frankfurt, Servette of Switzerland and PS Jayakarta of Indonesia. International sides include Bahrain, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Singapore, but Admiral merchandise is sold all over the world thanks to TV programmes like Match of the Day and The Big Match, which is screened in almost every country where soccer is played and create a huge demand for the strips of British clubs.”

Therein we make a few discoveries about the legend of Admiral footballwear. We all know about the connections with England, Wales, Coventry City, Leeds United and many others, but Servette? Bahrain? Singapore? Admiral’s supreme reign was much more widely spread than many of us realised.

Back to the book, however. The nice thing about it was that unlike other annuals made for the youth market, the articles in this one were centred around individual people, all of whom (naturally enough) played for teams that were under contract with Admiral.

There was Mick Channon (Southampton and England) telling us about his business interests outside football: “I started my first business venture when I was 20 when I opened a men’s hairdressing salon in Southampton... This went so smoothly that I decided to widen my interests to take in a sports shop in Eastleigh... All this experience gave me the confidence and appetite to branch into something on a much bigger scale and so I made a considerable investment in the deep freeze business.” Watch out Sir Alan Sugar...

We also heard from Terry Yorath (Coventry City and Wales), and his relationship with former Leeds star Norman Hunter: “He was a great example for me. He was completely dedicated to the game, even to the extent of never ever going out on a Thursday or Friday night before a match.”  Ah, but what about every other night of the week, Terry?

Other articles focused on Martin Peters’ quiet style of captaincy at Norwich and Tony Currie’s admiration of his boyhood hero Jimmy Greaves, but it’s fair to say that most of the book was taken up by photographs showing Admiral kits being worn by top league clubs and national team players alike. Would you want it any other way?

Though most of the pictures are in black-and-white, one can still see the fine detail and exquisite design of the many Admiral kits being worn back then. From Luton Town’s wonderful orange and blue - the inspiration for their current kit design - to East Fife’s orange and black tramlines, one can’t fail to admire the smartness and creativity behind those outfits.

But what about this one? (see right) Clearly it’s the familiar Admiral kit template worn by teams such as Manchester United and Leeds, but it’s an all-white kit with black trim. Not even the badge gives much of a clue as to which team this is - not least because only one of the two players shown is wearing one. (Actually, even the Admiral badge is different on both shirts, but that’s another matter...)

The clue is with the gentleman standing in the background. Many of you will recognise him as being the former Tottenham star Martin Chivers, and to save you the job of finding his Wikipedia page, we can tell you that in his later career he spent two years at the aforementioned Servette in Switzerland. The white kit shown is their away kit from the 1976-77 season, but here’s the home kit in all its glory.

The Admiral Book of Football 1978 had a small scattering of the usual features you’d find in similar publications such as a ‘Did You Know’-style facts page and a quiz, but the brilliantly staggering element to this book was the competition to win one of 25 England tracksuits. Let’s put it this way: Admiral weren't going to give them away for nothing...

To win one of the tracksuits modelled by Mike Doyle and Ray Clemence, all you had to do was answer as many of the seventy questions listed throughout the Annual.

That’s right - S-E-V-E-N-T-Y.

“You should take care and take your time answering them” readers were advised, “and you can consult any record book or any expert before finally making your decision.”

Thanks, Admiral, but what if myself and twenty-five other people get all seventy questions right?

“In the unlikely event of more than the required number of winners having the same total of correct answers, the neatness of each entry will be the deciding factor.”

Probably easier to go out and buy a tracksuit instead. Thanks for the Annual, though, Admiral.


  1. "the neatness of each entry will be the deciding factor"

    That is just truly delightful! :-D

    1. I know! Did we ever live in such an age...?! :)

  2. United's best ever kit (probably).