Saturday, 20 April 2013

The Hotspur Handy Book of Football Club Colours, 1969

There are so many great football nostalgia images around that it would be easy for us to upload one after the other and say "Wow - check these out!"

We wouldn't need to do much more because a picture, as Telly Salavas once implied, paints a thousand words. On this occasion, however, we came very close to doing just that, for this post takes The Hotspur Handy Book of Football Club Colours as its subject.

This simple booklet of sixteen pages measuring just over 15 centimetres by 25 contains nothing but hand-drawn illustrations - 141 in all - showing the football kits worn by league clubs throughout the United Kingdom.

I never bought The Hotspur comic. I was more of a Whizzer and Chips man myself (sorry - 'boy'), but had I known it was prone to giving away free gifts like this back in the day, I'd have quickly turned my back on Sid's Snake, Shiner and Mustapha Million.

Inside the booklet, each double page spread showcased the home kits for a specific division of the English or Scottish Leagues. As is always the case when looking at old football kit designs, you find yourself spotting details that delight with their quirkiness. In the Division 1 of 1969, we see Arsenal wearing blue socks, Wolves wearing a kit devoid of black and Sheffield Wednesday in their blue shirts with white sleeves.

Football League Division 1

In Division 2, Norwich look very natty in their white and yellow hooped socks while Millwall were still in the early days of their seven year stretch wearing all white.

Football League Division 2

Division 3 shows how Reading were taking the hoop motif to dazzling new levels, while Plymouth Argyle had dusted off their nice white kit with a green and black hoop, a review of which written by John Devlin can be found in  this month's Backpass magazine. There's also an appearance by Barrow and Southport, both of whom dropped out of the Football League within ten years of this booklet being printed, and Bournemouth and Boscombe Athletic before they changed their name to AFC Bournemouth.

Football League Division 3

In Division 4 you'll find one of the best kits I've discovered in recent years, namely that belonging to Darlington. For some reason those three horizontal black stripes across the middle of the shirt really do look the business to me, and were it not for the likelihood of a sponsor's logo obscuring it, I'm sure it would have already made a comeback in the modern era.

Other curiosities in Division 4 were the inclusion of Workington (who dropped out of the league in 1977), Swansea Town (in their final season before changing name to Swansea City) and Southend United wearing blue and white striped shirts for the only season of their history.

Football League Division 4

Back in 1969, the Scottish League still comprised of two divisions and both are featured here in similar detail. In Division 1, note Raith Rovers having a brief flirtation with a double hoop on an all white strip...

Scottish League Division 1

In Scottish Division 2, meanwhile, Clydebank were trialling a red shirt with white diagonal sash that would change to white with a red sash for the 1969/70 season. Montrose were also depicted in a soon-to-be-gone kit that included a shirt design not dissimilar to that of Raith Rovers.

Scottish League Division 2

As if that wasn't enough, the back cover featured a 'team photo'-style illustration showing the twelve kits from the Irish League. Though the name suggests a competition featuring teams from the Republic of Ireland in the modern sense, this was in essence the 'League of Northern Ireland'.

And my favourite kit from this batch? It would have to be the one worn by Glentoran. You don't see the red, green and black in those hoops coming together very often, but it's certainly a nice combination.

The Irish League

With that, this lovely little book is rendered complete, but in a revolutionary move that won't be repeated on this website (not if I've got anything to do with it at least), we must pay lip service to a double page spread featuring the 'Top Rugby League Teams.'

'Top Rugby League Teams'

Quite honestly I know nothing about Rugby so here I am forced to retain a dignified silence while you look at the image above. As for the rest of the booklet, I could talk for hours about all those wonderful drawings. They're absolutely fantastic.


  1. What colour would you say that York City kit is? Magenta? It's hard on the retinas.

    1. Lol... Yes indeed, Michael! Either a magenta or cerise, I'd say. In reality, it was more like a burgundy or maroon colour, therefore I'd say the printers had a bit of trouble with that one!