Change was the only constant in the summer of 2007, a period that saw a change in Hull City’s ownership, kit supplier and main sponsor ahead of a season that would prove to be the most momentous and joyous in club history, culminating in a trip to Wembley and promotion to the Premier League.
Benevolent autocrat Adam Pearson, architect and chief financier of the clubs transformation from laughable basement division scuffers to respectable second tier denizens, sold his ownership of the club and stadium management company to a south-east based consortium headed by Paul Duffen, the new man in the chairman’s hotseat.
Two of Pearson’s last acts as Tigers’ owner was to sign long term deals with a new sportswear manufacturer and shirt sponsor.
Umbro, long-term suppliers for England, signed a three year deal to design and produce City’s kits, which would feature the service marks of the KCOM group, who’s subsidiary Kingston Communications already sponsored the eponymous KC Stadium.
The KCOM sponsorship deal was announced on April 18th 2007 at a press conference held at the stadium, where the new 2007-2008 season kits were revealed. For the first time, the home and away shirts would have different sponsors logos emblazoned on them, local Internet Service Provider (ISP) Karoo had their logotype on the home shirt (as seen above on Jay Jay Okocha), with the Kingston Communications logo adorning the away shirts.
Once kit maker for a glut of prominent teams, notably Manchester United, Chelsea and Brazil, Umbro’s double diamond logo had become a rarer sight, certainly at club level, Everton were the only Premiership team who wore Umbro in 2006-2007. That changed in 2007-2008 after the Cheadle, Cheshire based company announced a swath of deals with clubs including Blackburn, Sunderland and West Ham. Most of the 2007-2008 Umbro kits followed a template (similar to the design of the England home shirt) so shared a number of features, with the colours, crest and sponsor’s patch of the club ‘dropped in’.
City were no different, and the solid amber home shirts featured a simple round neck with two interconnected black diamonds on either side and a broken tapered stripe underneath. The stripe was longer on the left side (as worn) and extended across the sleeve, making this the first asymmetric shirt design in club history (if you don’t count the tiger stripe affair, that is).
A four panelled raglan sleeve ensured a good fit across the shoulders and under the arms a Y-shaped cotton panel provided ventilation. Radio Humberside’s Dave Burns, describing the shirt at a fans forum a few hours after the press conference, said the panel featured a tiger stripe print, but this is not the case, the design is a repeated abstraction of the Umbro double diamond. The panel is part of Umbro’s ’Climate Control’ technology designed to absorb moisture and draw sweat away from the body and contains ‘Trilogy‘, described by Umbro as a ‘three stage thermodynamic performance material‘. Additional ventilation comes from the mesh ’pores’ on the bottom sleeve plate, down the side of the shirt and throughout the back panel where they form a striped pattern.
An embroidered Umbro logo sits at collarbone level on the right side (as worn), higher than the City crest on the left side. For the Championship Play Off final, text commemorating our first game at Wembley was printed underneath the manufacturers mark on the players shirts. A somewhat superfluous second Umbro logo is ironed onto the right sleeve and at the end of the sleeve is a Morse code imprint (another first for a City shirt) reading ‘FOOTBALL SHIRT BY UMBRO’ in coded form. On the short sleeve shirts the imprint acts as a rigid hem, but on long sleeve shirts it appears along a seam, not affecting the elasticity of the cuff. Gemtec’s logo appeared on the tail of the players shirts for a second season but was not on the replica shirts, though it could be added at the club shop when having a name and number ironed on the back of a shirt if wanted.
The black shorts feature amber piped ‘hooks’ on the sides that start at the elasticated waist band and finish halfway down, with two interconnected diamonds and an amber flash at the bottom. An amber embroidered Umbro logo sits on the left (as worn) side with the City crest on the right. Black socks with amber diamond trim completed the home kit, the first time we’ve worn black socks with plain amber shirts since the ’Great Escape’ 2000-2001 season.
As befits an international brand, Umbro ran a far reaching advertising campaign featuring Ian Ashbee, Andy Dawson, Stuart Elliott, Bo Myhill and Damien Delaney to announce the new kits. Though pre orders were taken online from the 18th April, the home shirts did not appear in the club shop until May 12th.
The new home kit made it’s debut at North Ferriby United in the annual Billy Bly Trophy game at Church Road and made it’s league bow in the opening day defeat to Plymouth Argyle. It‘s final appearance came in the Championship Play Off final victory over Bristol City and will be forever, inextricably linked with our first Wembley appearance. On two occasions, City paired white shorts with the amber shirt away from home, at Sheffield Wednesday (with white socks, as seen on Henrik Pedersen below) and at Preston North End (with black socks, as seen on Richard Garcia below) to avoid a clash with the home sides dark shorts.
At a Fans Liaison Committee meeting in January 2007 Amber Nectar asked for a white away kit and were somewhat pleased when Adam Pearson said “ok”. Maybe City was going to have a white away kit anyway, maybe we are so influential that we can dictate kit design, who knows? But a traditional white away kit was what we got for 2007-2008.
Another Umbro template jobbie (Rangers used this design for their home kit in 2007-2008), this white away shirt (as seen on Bryan Hughes, left) shares many of the home shirt’s features, such as the Climate Control panels and venting, the Morse code and the two double diamond logos. The differences, aside from the colour, are the sponsors branding (Kingston Communications rather than Karoo) and the shirts collar. This shirt has a V-neck collar and under the neckline is a two striped (one amber, one black) jagged bar that runs from shoulder to shoulder.
On sale at Tiger Leisure since July 1st 2007, the all white kit was first worn at North Ferriby in pre-season (City played a half wearing amber, and a half wearing white), it’s first use in a competitive game came at Coventry in the league and it was subsequently worn at Blackpool, Wolves, Norwich, Crystal Palace, Watford, Scunthorpe, Sheffield United and again at Watford in the 2-0 Championship Play Off Semi Final first leg win. City paired the black home shorts with the white shirt and socks at Blackpool in Caleb Folan’s second Tigers debut (Pictured below, left) after becoming the clubs record signing, joining from Wigan Athletic for £1M in late August 2007.
Only one keeper kit was seen in 2007-2008, Boaz Myhill and Matt Duke (pictured above, right) sported a grey shirt with black and white trim, black shorts and white socks. This jersey, emblazoned with the Karoo logo, was used even when City’s outfield players wore the Kingston Communications branded away shirt.