Almost Weekly Blog – 14th February

Posted by John Devlin

Sorry for missing last week’s blog – unfortunately my 9-5 working life is taking up far too much of my time and energy at the moment – I hope to get a better work/True Colours/life balance shortly!

Thanks for the responses to the Wales kits article – I love producing this mini-features that take a concentrated look at a specific kit topic and hope to produce plenty more with a mixture of already published illustrations and new ones. I’m also working on a few more 08-09 kits with Nottingham Forest and Newcastle’s kits almost ready to go.

True Colours illustrations can also now currently be seen in Derby County and Oldham matchday magazines on a regular basis. Plus I’ve produced a couple of illustrations for the Swansea v Fulham FA Cup tie programme (I’ve just finished watching the match).

Its thrilling to see a handful of 09-10 kits already sneaking out. I’m not one to stick my neck out too much with opinions on designs (being a designer myself I realise that design is subjective and know only too well what its like when someone criticises a piece of work you think is great!) but I have to say I LOVE what I see of adidas’ new templates. They seem to be a cross between cycling jerseys and rugby tops. A real innovation that brings a breath of fresh, contemporary air to the football shirt world. They really reinvent what a football shirt can be. I hope the leaked previews that are knocking about are accurate. I’ll try to bring some illustrations soon.

On the flip side, if what has been revealed of the new England shirt is genuine, then…well…I am appalled. It is one of the worst football shirts I have ever seen. Umbro, who I have to say are probably one of my favourite kit designers (and that fact doesn’t change!) seem to have lost the plot with this. Far too much red, clumsy design, too many fiddly devices (although I am interested by the new 3D barcode ‘thingy’) and just generally a lack of ‘Englishness’. I really hope this is a red (literally) herring thrown out to confuse kit counterfeiters…we will have to wait and see. Personally, I think the time has come to return to a much plainer, whiter shirt with less of the red elements that have been used for the last few kits.

Wales Kits 1976-1990

Posted by John Devlin

Tracking down international kits history can be extremely difficult – mainly due to the relatively few games that are played on the international arena (until fairly recently) and the sparse photographic evidence that emerges from games.

The Wales kit history is particularly complex with more twists and turns than most. Since True Colours 2 was published several missing Wales outfits have been brought to my attention – primarily thanks to Simon ‘Shakey’ Shakeshaft at the rather excellent Shakey is a massive collector of Wales match worn shirts and has been able to give me a more complete rundown of Wales’ strips and correct a few mistakes.

Some of these kits have been included in the updates section of my site but I thought it might be good to go through them again here, along with the two classic Admiral kits of the late 70s:

Wales Home Kit 1976-1980Wales Away Kit 1976-1980

Admiral’s kit design revolution extended to the Wales national team in 1976 with a design very familiar to all football kit afficianados. Known affectionately as the ‘tramlines’ the kit featured arched yellow and green strips that extended onto the shorts. The badges was placed centrally with an Admiral logo cunningly placed on each large wing collar ensuring they would appear prominently in every mug shot of a Welsh player – marketing genius! The away version retained the design and simply flipped the colours.

Wales Home Kit 1980-1983Wales Away Kit 1980-1984Wales Third Kit 1982-1984Wales Home Kit 1983-1984

Wales entered the 80s with a smart new set of outfits from adidas. The red shirt now also featured white sleeves accompanied by the trademark adidas three stripe trim. The shorts featured large red panels on each leg. The away kit once again mirrored that of the home. One of the rarest of all Wales shirts was the white third kit that was issued in 1982 (missing from True Colours 2). Never worn, the shirt featured green pinstripes and was paired with green shorts and white socks. In late 1983 the home kit went through a slight modification with shadow pinstripes added to the shirt fabric and the shorts switched to a more standard adidas three stripe pair. This kit was only worn in 2 or 3 games in 1983 and 1984.

Wales Home Kit 1984-1987Wales Away Kit 1984-1987

The second and final set of adidas kits saw the introduction of  home design featuring a sequence of horizontal white pinstripes across the chest. It was a curious design that, as far as I’m aware, was not employed by an other adidas teams of the era. The away shirt for this period was not, as included in True Colours 2, a reversed version of the home, but was in fact a rather plain yellow and green ensemble. It is a common held belief that the away kit of this period was white – a misconception that has its origins with Subbuteo who produced a miniature Welsh side in that very kit.

Wales Home Kit 1987-1990Wales Away Kit 1987-1990Wales Third Kit 1987-1990

The Welsh side ended the decade in this superb set of kits from Danish sportswear giants Hummel. Often criticised at the time, in my view they made classy strips with adventurous designs. The Welsh home was now all red with non-contrasting V-neck and cuffs and white chevron trim and piping. The shirt fabric also featured a shadow chevron design. The away shirt was not yellow and green as I illustrated it in True Colours 2, but in fact strangely yellow and black. Finally, another rare design that slipped through the True Colours net was this white version of the home kit that was worn with the home shorts and unique white socks. This third kit was only worn once, in a 1-0 defeat to Holland in an Italia 90 World Cup qualifier. It was decided that the orange of Holland was just too close to both the Welsh home and away shirts of the time.