Sunday, 8 February 2015

The White stuff

Feethams photo is one for the kit geeks...

For someone like me who is a bit of a self-confessed "kit geek", trawling through old match programmes can prove immensely rewarding. Every so often I come across an action photo that leaves me thinking, "I never knew (insert team name) played in (insert colour)?"
As a City fan it is even more "exciting" - I acknowledge that this may well be a term many of you would struggle to associate with looking at football kits - when the picture in question shows the Tigers in a strip or combination of strips that they must have rarely worn.
From the Darlington v Hull City programme 28/12/82
But this is exactly what happened when sifting through my programme collection from the 1982/83 season the other night (there wasn't much on telly).
One of the 32 matches I'd been to that promotion season was the 2-1 away win at Darlington in late December '82. Inside the programme was an action pic from the previous season's encounter, which the Quakers had edged 2-1 during City's post-Receivership renaissance. My eyes lit up when noticing the kit City were photographed playing in.
That night the Tigers had "mashed up" the stylish Adidas home shirts of 1980-82 (my second favourite City kit of all time) with the white away shorts and socks in a look that I hadn't seen worn by a City side since the mid 1970's.
The closest they had previously come to this was when pairing the home shirt with white away shorts and black home socks, as worn at Sheffield United in the pre-season Anglo-Scottish Cup (and featured on several programme covers that season - see 'Croft Original' post below) and also against Tottenham away in the FA Cup in January 1981. (Incidentally, I always thought that particular look had a real continental feel to it, like when the AC Milan side of the 1990's used to combine white shorts and black socks with their red/black striped shirts on Channel 4's Football Italia.)
The Hull City squad 1975/76 
Of course what I really wanted was a return to the 1975/76 playing strip, the one worn for the first City live game I attended. That season had seen the Tigers take a break with tradition when unveiling their new playing strip. Not inasmuch as they again sported stripes for the first time since the early 1960's but in the choice of colour of their shorts and socks. For the first time since 1935 City wore white shorts and for the first time in their history, white was also to be the first choice colour of the club's socks. Both, I must add, came with a stylish black and amber trim. It easily remains my favourite City kit.
The strip was manufactured by Europa Sports and the original badge was a diagonal "HCAFC". This would eventually make way for a tiger's head in 1979/80, which would become the first replica shirt I bought.
The 1975/76 strip was retained for three seasons until the club reverted to a more traditional choice of black shorts and amber socks. It was the end of the white socks experiment. Oh to see them back one day.

Sources / Recommended reading:
Historical Kits
Hull City Kits

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