Liverpool v Arsenal 1971 FA Cup Kits

Ever wondered why in years gone by you often found two clubs battling it out in an FA Cup semi final or final both in their away kits? (e.g. QPR v Spurs in 1982) Well, maybe its only me then, but it did happen quite frequently in the 60s, 70s and 80s.

I found this snippet in a 1971 Birmingham City programme that casts some light on the subject. It refers to the 1971 FA Cup final between Arsenal and Liverpool (the match in which Charlie George helped the Gunners to a memorable double):

“Liverpool will play in their normal all-red strip at Wembley. That was the surprise decision of the FA after a turnabout on their own rules. FA secretary Denis Follows held a private toss of a coin with one of his assistants after deciding to waive the rule which states:

– Where the colours of the two competing clubs are similar, both clubs must change unless alternative arrangements are mutually agreed by the competing clubs. – 

Liverpool were tails and won the toss. As a result they will play in their normal red colours and Arsenal must change to their reserve strip of yellow and blue.”

So there you have it – the rule in those days was that if their was a clash both clubs must change strips!

23 Replies to “Liverpool v Arsenal 1971 FA Cup Kits

  1. This rule must have gone on for a long while (maybe it still exists) as I remember in the Chelsea v Wimbledon 1997 FA cup semi final, both teams wearing away colours. I understand that Wimbledon’s home kit clashed with the referee’s kit, but Chelsea’s did not.

  2. Very interesting!

    I’ve always been intrigued for years as to why in many cases both teams used to change kit for cup finals and semi’s, but that answers it.

    Though I recall there has been instances in the past before 1971 where one team has worn their home kit and the other changed it. I wonder if that was due to the mutual agreement, or something else? I’ve known teams to wear change kits for cup semi’s and finals due to an away kit being deemed “lucky” though.

  3. I think nowadays there is a toss of coin prior to semi’s and finals if there is a colour clash, unless there is an arrangement in place.

    An obvious example is Cardiff City last season, who opted to wear their “lucky” black away kit against Barnsley despite there being no colour clash. For the final there would have been a coin toss but they continued to stick by the black kit to face Pompey, but ultimately the lucky kit didn’t do it for them!

    Anyhow that cup semi of 1997 is an interesting point as Wimbledon had been forced for a number of years to wear either of their change kits due to their regular navy clashing with the ref’s kit, whether it was a mix-up on Chelsea’s part for thinking Wimbledon would have worn navy, I’m not sure.

    Still, why referees back then didn’t just wear a different coloured shirt (like they do in Scotland whenever navy teams play) only the FA could answer that one!

  4. Arsenal wore their away in finals from 1978-80, but only in one did the other team change, West Ham in 1980, Ipswich in 78 and Man U in 79 wore their homes.

    There was a toss before the 01 and 05 finals and Arsenal won both.

  5. in the 1979 semis both United and liverpool changed strips,but in 1985 they alternated for the games for some reason.And denis,that 78-90 arsenal away strip was a classic.

  6. It’s a surprising rule. However I remember both teams in change colours when Man Utd played Barca in the Cup Winners Cup. It seemed to happen a lot in the past.

  7. Wasn’t the all white just a combo of the white shirt from the previous season,FA Cup Final ’90 v Palace if I remember, and their white home shorts? not so unusual, at least nowadays.

    I think the double away kits selection was a result of both teams failing to agree over colours, so both had to wear away kits. UEFA must not have had a rule back then over home/away kits in finals.

  8. No – the shirt worn in the Cup Winners Cup final was a one-off specially produced for that game. It mirrored the design of the home shirt with a wrapover round collar whereas the 90 Cup final kit had a wrapover V-neck. Not much difference I grant you!

  9. Special one-off (two-off I suppose!) white socks too, for 1990-91 and 1991-92, United wore the previous white away socks for shorts clashes.
    Interestingly, towards the end of 1991-92, United played away to West Ham and wore the 88-90 away kit rather than a sponsored version of that CWC kit.
    European finals have also been inconsistent for clashes, often in the past both teams changed, eg United-Barca 91, Sampdoria-Barca 92, United Benfica 68, Arsenal-Galatasaray 00, Ajax-Milan 95, Real-Valencia 00.
    Other times have only seen one change, eg Juventus-Ajax 96, Liverpool-Milan 03 05, Arsenal-Barca 06, Benfica-Milan 89, though of course Milan wear white in the event of a final clash, even if they win the toss!

  10. The most unusual occurrence I can think of is the European Supercup final in 1983 – Aberdeen vs. Hamburg SV. At that time, Aberdeen’s home strip was all red, while (from a quick check of Wikipedia) I believe Hamburg’s home strip was all white with a red trim. For some bizarre reason, Aberdeen chose to wear their change strip of white shirts with black socks, while Hamburg wore what I assume to be an all red away kit. The problem is that their away kit on the night was almost identical to Aberdeen’s normal home kit, so I’m sure that many who witnessed the Dons’ 2-0 win at Pittodrie that evening were convinced it was actually 2-0 to Hamburg!

    Search for Aberdeen Hamburg on youtube to see what I mean!

  11. I expect the original decision was made because of a problem that Euro 2008 foresaw. If both teams had worn away strips they would have both been wearing light coloured shirts.

    If you consider the problems that sunshine and shadows caused television companies at Wembley (prior to it’s moderm tilting roof). Denis Fellows was years ahead of his time!!!

  12. It is strange when you see two teams playing each other in away kits, but even more bizarre is if both sides are wearing colours more associated with their opponents.

    For example, when England played Switzerland earlier this year, England wore red and Switzerland wore white, when you’d expect it to be the other way around. It’s not the first time it’s happened either – in 2000 England did the same against Belgium.

    Oh and talking of a team whose opponents turned up wearing an identical kit to their usual, anyone remember that time when Liverpool travelled to Spartak Moscow in 1992? Spartak’s kit was a dead ringer for Liverpool’s home kit at the time!

  13. I actually had that Liverpool kit of 91/92 but it was one of those kits which divided fans’ opinion – it was a radical design at the time but most certainly not a traditional one.

    Anyway, that FA rule at the time – did it apply to all stages of the FA Cup, or just for the matches played at neutral venues (i.e. the semi-final and the final)? I’ve seen many instances of semi-finals where both teams changed kit, though I recall a very old piece of footage from around 1972/73 when Chelsea wore their Hungary-style change kit for a match at home.

  14. I think it must just have applied to matches played at neutral grounds. You’re quite right Jon, there were several semi finals hwere both teams changed but I don’t remember ever noticing it in the earlier rounds.

    I was reading an old programme the other day from 72-73 in which a fan had written in moaning about the Hungary Chelsea away kit and saying how he wished they always just played in blue. Must have been after that match!

  15. I’m fairly sure the change was made 72/73.

    In 72/73 Chelsea played Brighton away in the 3rd round in the famous red
    white and green, Brighton played in their normal blue and white
    However in the 4th round against Ipswich at the Bridge, Chelsea played in
    red blue and white and Ipswich changed to yellow white and blue.

    The following season 73/74 in the 3rd round home to QPR Chelsea played in
    blue, QPR changed to red.

  16. re Aberdeen v Hamburg super cup
    was at home leg for 2-0 win
    dont think there was ever any doubt who was who -away fans back then were very rare
    dont recall reason for change kit in both legs – as we had played them a few seasons earlier in uefa cup
    -was also a case in ecwc v torino where we played in our home kit away, they changed to white
    this was reversed at home again

    ecwc 84 porto v juve was another neutral kit final ; although both kits looked early 70s

  17. Re #18

    Looking at the front cover of the Chelsea vs Sheff United prog from the week following on the web, I would say Chelsea are in red, white, green and Ipswich in yellow, blue, yellow. But my memory is that whilst it was general rule for both teams to change in the FA Cup up to the mid ’70s, it was enforced as a hard and fast rule

  18. I have seen footage of a 1970’s Chelsea v Ipswich game where this happened. Tony you probably are talking about this game. Whilst Ipswich had yellow and blue as their change kit they often wore black short’s when visiting Chelsea. Why Chelsea changed I do not know. I alway’s thought I had imagined what I had seen so thank you for confirming what I had seen.

  19. Another consequence of both teams changing was that, if the aways clashed too – generally, if the two clubs had white change shirts – then it meant ad hoc third kits, as with Arsenal wearing black and white stripes against Blackpool in the early 1950s

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