Monday, 6 May 2013

Great Tracksuits of Our Time: No.14 - FA Cup Special

Not long to go now until FA Cup Final Day, so let's look back to 1978 when two rather fine tracksuit tops graced the biggest game in the English football calendar.

The scene was Wembley, the teams were Ipswich Town and Arsenal. Terry Neill and Bobby Robson emerged from the tunnel into the warm May sunshine and shortly after we got our first sight of the 22 players that would start the 1978 FA Cup Final.

Arsenal were bedecked in red tracksuit tops made by Umbro. Combined with the blue shorts of the away kit they were wearing on the day, the overall effect was a slightly confusing one for supporters and neutrals alike, yet the garment itself was a fine one.

Pat Rice and Frank Stapleton meet
Princess Alexandra
Umbro's familiar diamond logo was stitched in white contained within tramlines along the shoulders and sleeves, running up to the neck where an unavoidable white flappy collar appeared. A white zip divided both halves of the chest and on either side was a large Umbro logo and a depiction of Arsenal's 'cannon' motif which was so big that it could easily have been drawn on a scale of 1:1.

Allan Hunter (Ipswich)
Adidas were the creators of the Ipswich tracksuit top, and they too left no-one in any doubt as to what their corporate logo looked like. The styling was slightly different, however.

On a rich royal blue backdrop, the zip was this time inconspicuous by its similar colouring and a hood was provided instead of a big collar. To complete the look, the famous three stripes of the German sportswear company ran along the sleeves in white while the Ipswich club badge sat proudly on the right breast.

Mick Mills (right) walks the line
The backs of the tops were also different. As anyone that studied at The Football Attic's School of Tracksuit Design will tell you, the mark of a truly great track top can be found in the name of the team or the outfit's manufacturer spelled out in lettering on the back. In this respect, the Suffolk club score full marks for displaying 'Ipswich Town FC' in a perfect arc on theirs.

Rear Gunner: (right) Arsenal's cannon
Arsenal, however, applied a delightfully discrete sense of style by doing away with their club name in favour of a white cannon which looked absolutely spot on. Working on the basis that everyone knew what the badge was (apart from most of the people watching the match live from Australia and New Zealand), it was a very nicely executed piece of knowing understatement.

But on such an auspicious occasion, which one was best - the red of Arsenal or the blue of Ipswich?

On the occasion of the 1978 FA Cup Final, there was only one winner - that of tracksuit design itself.

Check out our other Great Tracksuits of Our Time here


  1. i think the Ipswich one just takes it, the Arsenal one is more of a traditional tracksuit in terms of a full zip and collars, but the Ipswich one looks more stylish (who'd have thought MIck Mills was a hoodie wearer?) I can feel that felt adidas badge as if it were yesterday.
    Bloody hell, I'm typing about tracksuits from the 70s at 9 in the morning on the other side of the world while my wife is slaving away at work, what am I doing with my life?

    1. Inclined to agree, Rob.

      Hoodies in the 70's - who knew!

      You're living the dream, Rob - living the dream... :)

  2. I like the Ipswich top - the perfectly formed semi-circle of "Ipswich Town FC" on the back is very impressive.

    1. It is very nicely done, isn't it Graham? None of your cheapo printing there... :)

  3. lovely article; i think the track suit topics may just be my favourite

    1. Thank you! Nice to know they're appreciated... :)

  4. ITFC fan in sydney, fa cup 2014 kicks off at midnight for us, i'm sure to be in bed by then, but thought i'd watch a bit of the epic 1978 version. spotted the ipswich tracksuit and thought "gotta get me one of those"! then i ended up here. great stuff. to @rob @chris O @graham and @nufc-monkey, thanks for making me laugh. now i'll get back to tracking down that tracksuit!

    1. Hello! It was much the same for me here in NZ - had to record the match and will watch it later!

      Glad you enjoyed the article and good luck finding that elusive tracksuit! :)