Liverpool Home Kit 1985-87: True Colours Hall of Fame

Posted by John Devlin

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So many people ask me what’s the worst kit I’ve ever seen and what’s the best. Focusing on the worst kits gets a little boring after a while in my opinion so I’m opening the True Colours Hall of Fame within The Kit Cupboard that will feature a selection, in no particular order, of some of my favourite kits of all time. Plus where possible I’ll be telling you where you can still buy them! To start the ball rolling here’s the classic Liverpool home kit from the 1985-86 and 1986-87 seasons.

liverpool-h-85-87Growing up as a Liverpool fan I was accustomed to seeing the reds decked out in Umbro. At the time they were part and parcel of the Liverpool DNA. When the announcement came the club were switching to adidas I was both thrilled (as I loved to see new kits), nervous and just a little sad to see the departure of Umbro from Anfield. My first glimpse of the kit though instantly quelled all my fears. It was utterly superb!

If my memory serves me correctly Match Weekly magazine previewed the new home, away and third kits in a double page spread allowing avid kit fans to pore over every detail: a typically mid-80s multi-trimmed V-neck, adidas three-stripe taping delicately outlined with yellow and stopping at the shoulders (of course this was before tournament sleeve patches), white Liver Bird and adidas logos and a wonderful shadow pattern comprising of stripes, Liver Birds and adidas trefoils. Another point of interest was that the shorts didn’t flip the placement of the club badge and manufacturers logo as was normally the case. It was wonderful stuff – adidas had achieved the impossible and come up with a design that matched, and in fact exceeded, the last Umbro pinstriped jersey.

Sadly the kit’s opening match was the tragic 1985 European Cup Final at Heysel at the end of the 1984-85 season where it was worn without Crown Paints logo and ‘adidas’ type below the trefoil logo. Fortunately though happier times were ahead for the kit as King Kenny’s men clinched the club’s first ever FA Cup and League double whilst wearing it the following year.

The kit went through several minor cosmetic adjustments in its lifespan including the switching the Crown Paints logo to run on a single line and the various pieces of commemorative embroidery to mark the triumphs this memorable side achieved wearing this memorable kit.

Worn by: Ian Rush, Jan Molby, Paul Walsh

Worn in: The 1-0 win over Chelsea that sealed the 1985-86 Division 1 title and the 3-1 victory over Everton in that season’s FA Cup final. Also worn the following season in a 10-0 thrashing of Fulham.

Buy this shirt now from Vintage Football Shirts


9 Responses to “Liverpool Home Kit 1985-87: True Colours Hall of Fame”

  1. ciaran Says:

    A fine kit i would agree but for me the pool’s 1988-89 home kit would be the greatest of all shirts worn in anfield.maybe thats because I got into the sport during the 1989 league (“its up for grabs now”, “barnes on his knees” etc).always thought candy was a cooler sponsor than crown paints too.

    This is a good looking kit though.only omplaint i would have is the trefoil-only branding on the socks but thats fairly minor.liverpool has had a decent run of home shirts during its adidas run.sets warrior up for a bit of a fall if you ask me.

    cant say i am a fan of the last liverpool umbro kit either.looks very dated now compared to the 2 that surpassed it.

  2. Andrew Rockall Says:

    A good start John, glad my email prompted such a feature. Looking forward to your other choices.

  3. john b Says:

    Surely ‘the iconic’ liverpool kit is the umbro hitachi kit? Perhaps a poll?

  4. ned Says:

    I’d go with Ciaran in having a preference for the 87-89 home kit (with the longer stripes & round neck), although the 95-96 kit with the large V-neck is my favourite. But this is certainly one of LFC’s best – I think the version with Crown Paints on one line is the more iconic version, being worn in both our double winning games in 1986.

  5. John Devlin Says:

    It was a tough call between this and the Hitachi kit – but for me this strip just looked so good and had to step into Umbro’s shoes which must have been difficult after their long association with Liverpool.

  6. Rich Johnson Says:

    YES! My favourite liverpool kit of all time! Proper bright, shiny, silky red from the good old days of 100% polyester shirts :) Always loved the shortened stripes and the yellow in the trim as well as the classic V neck.

  7. Andrew Says:

    I think the shortened stripes might have been a compromise, because Liverpool didn’t want to overdo the branding on the shirt. Adidas got their own way in the end of course. There’s an interesting story in the book ‘Pitch Invasion: Adidas, Puma and the Making of Modern Sport’ about how adidas muscled in on the Liverpool deal, forcing Umbro out. They apparently used their influence with UEFA a few years earlier to have the Umbro logos covered up (with tape) on the Liverpool shirts in the 1981 European Cup Final.

  8. john b Says:

    Did anyone buy the re-issue? with the different collar?
    I remember the 81 final with the tape over the umbro,did this happen regular back then? Adidas have always been ‘friendly’ with fifa/uefa!!

  9. Rich Johnson Says:

    John b, I was tempted to buy that re-issue, but the different neck put me off…I want accuracy! I nearly bought one in the LFC shop last week (think it was a score draw one), but it only had 1 stripe on the shoulder (and obviously no adidas logo)…other than that it was identical, but just not identical enough for me :)

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