FAMOUS FIVE: City third kits

City’s 2015/16 third kit makes a belated debut at Bristol City on Saturday, so we thought we’d take a look at five other third kits worn by the Tigers over the years…

1: 1971/72

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We tend to think of third kits as a relatively modern innovation, a Premier League-era method of generating extra revenue from shirt sales, but City were wearing a third kit over forty years ago, long before replicas were available in club shops. The striking thing is that the third shirt had black stripes.

Though there is nothing unfamiliar about City playing in shirts with black stripes these days (six of the last ten home kits have featured amber and black striped shirts), that wasn’t the case in the early 1970s, when the Tigers were well into an 11-season streak of plain amber shirted home kits.

Monotone shirts became the norm post-war: plain light blue shirts were used in Boothferry Park’s inaugural season of 1946/47 before amber and black made a comeback in 1947, but with the stripes that inspired the nickname of ‘the Tigers’ out of fashion, City wore solid amber home shirts until 1961.

The shirts with black stripes used as part of the 1971/72 third kit were unfamiliar because of the contrast tone, which was red. City’s regular change kit was all-white, and evidently deemed enough of a contrast with red as we wore it at Liverpool in the League Cup and at Swindon Town in Division Two, but in other games City went Milan-a-like.

The first time was for the third game of the league campaign, a 1-1 draw with Cardiff late in the August. Amber and black causes no colour clash with Cardiff’s blue and white, but the red and black was more distinguishable than our home kit when viewed in black and white photographs (or had it appeared on a black and white TV set), and perhaps that is the reason for the third kit’s introduction.

We later wore the third kit at Fulham (white shirts, black shorts) in a 1-0 loss on 9th October, at Blackpool (tangerine and white) in a December 1-1 draw and at Oxford in March 1972 in a 2-2 point share. It’s hard to envisage us wearing red and black stripes ever again, but the alternate outfit is a fascinating footnote in City’s kit history.

2: 1995-97

9597thirdCity’s rather fetching maroon away kit, used most notably at Coventry in the League Cup, covered almost every colour clash eventuality if the home shirt was unsuitable in 1995/96, but one fixture necessitated a third kit that season.

Bradford City’s claret and amber, or rhubarb and custard if you’re unkind (and we are), rendered both the plain amber home shirt and solid maroon away kit inappropriate at Valley Parade, so City took to the field in the all-white third kit’s shirts and shorts.

The alternative change kit’s white socks, seen on the squad photo worn by manager Terry Dolan, assistant Jeff Lee, keeper coach Rod Arnold, youth coach Billy Legg and physio Jeff Radcliffe, were never used in competitive action. Instead, the amber home socks were used in the 1-1 draw at Bradford.

As on the home kit, sponsor IBC’s initial were applied in red felt on the third shirt, though only in 1995/96. Retained for 1996/97, the third shirts for that season appear to be have been a freshly produced batch, as IBC appeared in black felt rather than red.

Just as in the year before, the third kit made just one appearance, a 1-0 win at Lincoln that was memorable for forward Andy Brown replacing Roy Carroll in goal. Again the shirts and shorts were paired with different socks, in this case the away kits maroon hose with amber fold over bands.

Rectangular Nationwide League sleeve patches were added in 1996/97, whereas the kitman overlooked competition badges in 1995/96. Terry D, when speaking of the third kit commented: “The players feel pure in all white, that’s PURE in capital letters”. Righto, Tel. Fans never got to feel that purity as sadly, the white kit was not available to buy in Tiger Leisure, making the player issue shirts quite rare indeed.

3: 2005-07

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Superstition can play as much a part in a kits use as its clash-avoidance properties. That was the case when the centenary year’s away kit was still in use two seasons later, albeit with subtle changes. Phil Parkinson got it into his head that the away kit shared some responsibility for City’s poor form on their travels, and maybe he had a point, the Tigers lost at Queens Park Rangers and Burnley in black shirts. So to he pushed for the powder blue and white kit to be used instead, and it worked, for a while. We wore it at Southend in a 3-2 win and in a 1-1 draw at Norwich.

The 2004/05 shirts marked a hundred years of Hull City with a slightly amended crest, instead of carrying the club’s nickname, the scroll banner read 1904-2004. Later versions of the shirts, used in 2005/06 at Blackpool and Wolves, and later on in 2006/07 carried the standard club crest with ‘The Tigers’ in the scroll banner.

The blue shirt gambit couldn’t affect performances and consecutive heavy defeats, 5-1 against Colchester and 4-2 versus Southampton did for Parkinson. He was replaced by the man he’d brought in to coach the first team, Phil Brown.

4: 2008/09

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It doesn’t take a genius to work out that neither a black and amber home kit or a ‘flint grey’ away kit would provide sufficient contrast to Newcastle’s black and white. Club staff however missed it, creating a diabolical situation at St James Park where City had to borrow white adidas branded shorts and socks from the hosts.

To prevent a recurrence, the previous season’s away kit was put back into active service as a third kit. It was only used once in 2008/09, when we returned to St. James Park in an FA Cup third round replay after a 0-0 draw at the KC Stadium, The match was embellished by boss Phil Brown’s touchline spat with Joe Kinnear, City won courtesy of a Daniel Cousin strike and advanced to the fourth round to face Millwall at home.

Although used in the FA Cup, the white shirts had Premier League sleeve patches, numbers and letters applied. The wordmark of Gemtec appeared under the numbers in the 2007/08 Championship campaign, but back of shirt sponsors are not permitted in the Premier League so the shirt tails were blank on the 2008/09 versions of what is surely the best looking change kit City have ever had.

5: 2014/15

201415thirdThough a de facto third kit, Umbro’s white and blue get up was listed as a European change kit, in expectation of a long run in the Europa League. That plan was scuppered when City succumbed to away goals rule elimination in the play-off round, meaning the kit was worn just once in UEFA-sanctioned competition, in the 1-0 defeat at Lokeren in Belgium.

The Tigers commissioned a unique font for use in Europe, and the stylised numbers and letters made their debut at Lokeren’s Daknamstadion. The font, which vaguely resembles a cargo crate stencil, fitting for a port city side’s continental excursions, was too good to abandon after a premature Eurexit, so it was used in domestic cup games, though only on the UEFA rule compliant ‘Euro’ home shirts which had plain amber panels on the back for greater name/number clarity.

No longer needed as a Euro change kit, the white and blue set (which fused two commonly used City away colours together) was used as a Premier League third kit at Newcastle and Liverpool with league standard name and number appliques. Umbro’s wordmark appeared on the arms of these shirts, underneath the Premier League sleeve patches, though they were absent in Lokeren, peeled off to satisfy UEFA kit regulations on maker logos.

1 reply
  1. Shuffle
    Shuffle says:

    Great read – the only signed shirt i have is the shirt used at Newcastle in the FA Cup in 2009. Great to have a momento of that match – even though the game seemed to have been played 100 miles away from where we were sitting…

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