Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Great Tracksuits of Our Time: No.15

Manchester City and Wolverhampton Wanderers (1974):

In the world of international fashion, bright citrus-coloured pants have rarely, if ever, been considered as acceptable. The same can be said of sky blue two-piece outfits with red trimmings.

Luckily the world of football doesn't concern itself with international fashion, and this undoubtedly allowed the 1974 League Cup Final to be one of the most colourful occasions ever seen at Wembley. And that was before the match got started.

As the two teams walked out onto the pitch for the big match, 97,000 fans could have been excused for whipping out their sunglasses and shielding their eyes from the glare.

On the one hand, Wolverhampton Wanderers, boldly striding forth in black tracksuit tops and 'old gold' pants; on the other, Manchester City, their opponents, a vision in summer blue with the customary stripy Umbro trim in red. If Admiral epitomised the excesses of late-1970’s football kit design, Umbro preceded it with their Wembley show costumes.

Indeed this was an occasion when Umbro could look from afar with great pride. Both teams were wearing their apparel, both sets of tracksuit tops adorned by the Umbro logo of the time on the right breast. As for the all too stark effect of Wolves' jet black zip-up jackets and glowing yellow-orange bottoms, it was certainly daring, to say the least.

But let's not forget the small details on the top: the three leaping wolves of the club badge on the left breast, the substantial collar that Eric Cantona could have made an entire repertoire out of, and the word 'Wolves' emblazoned across the back... it was enough to bring a tear to the eye of Wulfrunians everywhere.

Less garish but just as bright were the City boys, Denis Law, Mike Summerbee and Rodney Marsh amongst them. Their tracksuit bore a closer resemblance to their playing kit, yet it too allowed for a considerable degree of flare and style.

Looking virtually the same as the garb worn by the England national team at the time (save for a different shade of blue) Ron Saunders' men looked quietly confident in their smart outfits. The two-tone red waist bands, leg and shoulder stripes and slim collar were a symbol of Umbro's 'tailored' approach to football kit manufacture, and with this in mind we can't imagine too many City fans complaining about the use of United's colours to round off the overall look of this tracksuit.

As far as we can make out, there was no name on the back of the tops, so apart from the aforementioned details and the club badge on the front, that was it - but what a fine look it was. If only it had spurred Manchester City onto an equally fine result on the day.

In the end, it was the dark destroyers in black tracksuit tops that won the 1974 League Cup Final. A 2-1 triumph for Bill McGarry's team was, amongst other things, a victory for loud and audacious colour schemes over toned-down smartness, but those clever designers at Umbro wouldn't have minded either way. For them, this was surely an occasion when they couldn't lose - no matter what the outcome.

Want more tracksuit-related memories? Try these on for size...


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