Before Sunday’s Old Firm game, I performed the usual ritual. Open up the bottom drawer and rummel around in 25-odd years worth of old Rangers shirts to find the one for the game. This time, I settled on the 1990-92 Admiral version (see it here). Normally a certain shirt brings back memories of certain players (1987 CR Smith – Davie Cooper; 1999 NTL – Giovanni van Bronckhorst) but this particular one has more unpleasant associations.
The first game I wore it was the league opener for the 1990-91 season. I had a summer job in London, but I travelled north to spend the weekend with my pal Drew in Harthill, a charming little town halfway between Glasgow and Edinburgh. We travelled with the Harthill Rangers Supporters Club bus, on which I was a guest and treated accordingly:
Bus convenor: “What’s your name, son?”
Bus Convenor: “And are you a student, Billy?”
Me (sniffing a discount): “Aye, I am.”
Bus Convenor: “Well that’ll do you fuck-all good on this bus mate. Give us three quid like everyone else.”
Like I said – Harthill is a charming little town.
Rangers won 3-1 against Jim Leishman’s Dunfermline Athletic. Drew and I went out in Harthill later that night, where I ended up in a street fight between rival Harthill posses. The evening ended with me throwing up in my pal’s back garden having just outrun a mental case with a pool cue who jumped out of a car to attack me and another guy. This other lad was caught by the driver and battered; so his older brother went round to the driver’s house the next morning and broke his leg.
Like I said – Harthill is a charming little town.
I have a collection of Scotland jerseys too, with current pride of place being fairly recent – a 2007 model bought new and the last one in the shop inscribed with “Kirin Cup Winners 2006”. (GIRFUY England, that’s one international trophy each.)
While I have been sorely tempted, I’ve not yet grown the balls to buy and wear the horrific 1991-93 away jersey (here and as modelled by Ally McCoist above). No wonder we didn’t qualify for USA ’94 – if we did and were drawn against Italy, it would have been a fashion mismatch of global proportions. But at least I could wear that with a certain retro “so bad it’s good” pride; unlike the dreadful Fila first-team jersey sported by Berti’s babes as they were put to the sword in Busan, Korea in 2002 (here). Vertical stripes do not look good on the Tartan Army, people (“Fila’s contract was not renewed when it expired at the end of its three-year term” – one good decision made by the SFA in the last ten years).
The latest Diadora shirts are Italian-made and while at times our play hasn’t been in sync with that origin (Georgia away, also the only sighting of a ghastly “cherry-red” number) in general I do feel like a sexy man in my various pec-hugging Diadora tops. Especially my Kirin Cup number.
Umbro have the best reputation for the worst shirts, only enhanced this season by Celtic’s ludicrous “bumble bee” away shirt (here). I’ll admit the sight of any Celtic shirt inspires a moderate loathing in every fibre of my being, but this one hurts my eyeballs too. And it looks like there’s another 18 months of it to go.
Another favourite style is the Motherwell 1978-79 vintage: Willie Pettigrew, come on down (here). The “stripes down the chest” look was all the rage in the late 70s with lots of classic dirty tackles and mud-splattered football to go with it. Down south there was of course Coventry’s famous brown number (here), while going north Aberdeen had some success with their Arthur Graham version (here).
While Aberdeen had style in the late 70s, they have their own abortions to deal with as well: take your pick from 90-92 “what are these stupid wee triangles” or 94-96 “I’ve got blue tiger print on my arm”. Fergie would never have let that happen!
Hearts, Hearts, glorious Hearts… I couldn’t recall any particularly bad efforts but on looking at their record (here) I am shocked, stunned, and impressed: their original uniform in 1873 is exactly what gay men are wearing to Gorgie discos to this very day! (Or so I am told.) And their second effort can only be the result of a batch of hallucinogens doing the rounds in Gorgie in 1876.
But Hibs, your first kit is not much better (here) though I do give you massive props for the purple Bukta job from 1978 – “only used for televised matches” it says, which intrigues me; a nation of armchair supporters wondering why a team playing in purple have fans with green-and-white scarves? [Incidentally, there’s a store in the ultra-trendy Tokyo neighborhood of Harajuku which sells Bukta gear. The brand was relaunched – upscaled – in 2005.]
Falkirk 1996. What. Were. You. Thinking. (here)
I can’t end without mentioning Motherwell’s sponsorship from 2002-2004: “The Untouchables” sprayed across the front of their jersey (here). I’ve no idea who The Untouchables are or were, but that was style, befitting a team who have their fanzine named after a Billy Bragg song, and an 80s striker whose favourite band was The Wedding Present. Faddy wore that shirt.
Discuss in the comments – what’s your best or worst shirt? I sense another poll coming soon!
(*) Kudos to www.historicalkits.co.uk for their amazing site.