Liverpool kit lore and third kit snobbery

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Liverpool’s 3rd Kit don’t impress me much

Steven Scragg, author and writer for This is Anfield and These Football Times, isn’t too impressed with Liverpool’s new 3rd kit. Here, he takes us through his passionately held views and extensive knowledge of Liverpool away kit lore.

I’ve given it some consideration; I’ve tried to allow it the benefit of the doubt. We won at Southampton in it, but still the unavoidable conclusion was one I’ve drifted towards since the very moment I first set eyes upon it.
That third kit of ours really is crap.
My name is Steven, and I’m an unashamed kit snob.

Liverpool should only ever consider four different versions of away kit. White shirt, black shorts and white socks, – with red socks an acceptable alternative, upon occasion – all-white, all-yellow, or all-grey/silver.

No other colour permutation is good enough.

Liverpool’s iconic away kit that saw them through much of the glory years

Christ we’ve had some shocking away kits over the course of the last 28 years, since we took the radical step to go green, in 1991/92.

If you are under the age of 30 then you’ll not know how much commotion that green and white kit caused. To say it wasn’t universally embraced would be an understatement.

Since then, we have gone black, charcoal, ecru, green again, orange and purple, sometimes simultaneously. One fact remains however. We have never won a league title with a shit away kit.
Think of the most iconic kits we’ve had, and it takes you to our Umbro days of the 1960s, 70s and 80s followed by the first coming of Adidas from the summer of 1985.

The best kits we’ve ever sported have been blessed by simplicity. Funny that, considering the best football we’ve ever played has always been laced with simplicity too.

From those all-red, round neck kits of the mid-1960s, to the Adidas/Candy offering that we won the 1989 FA Cup final in, our kits were unimpeachable. Even that white flecked variant of 1989 to 1991 has garnered for itself a retrospective respect, despite being widely moaned about at the time.

Liverpool’s away kits were no different in this respect. The classic white shirts, black shorts, white socks combination wasn’t veered away from on a full-time basis until the all-yellow with red pinstripes effort arrived for the 1981/82 season. Meanwhile, the red with white pinstripes version didn’t appear until 1982/83.

John Barnes rehabilitating the grey away kit all on his own

Despite a change in style in 1984/85, we remained yellow until the dawning of our 1985 association with Adidas, who brought back the classic white shirt for 1985/86, except going all-white for the double-winning season, before the black shorts made a comeback the following campaign.
Although white had made its return, Adidas retained all-yellow as a third kit until 1987/88. It was a thing of great beauty and was used only occasional, usually at Southampton and West Ham.

The all-yellow kit, often viewed as an inherently 1980s thing for Liverpool, actually made its first appearance in the late-1960s, while it was also used during the 1979 FA Cup semi-final against Manchester United, during an era when the FA insisted all colour-clashes, on neutral territory, would be settled by both teams wearing away colours, a ruling that saw both teams in the 1980 and 1982 FA Cup finals wearing their away kits.

Let’s face it, Kenny could look good in anything

The issue for Liverpool and Manchester United in 1979 was that both teams away kits were white shirts and black shorts. Rather than yield on one team wearing their home colours, Liverpool were required to come up with a third kit.

1987 saw such problems being blown out of the water by the introduction of that all-silver/grey away kit. Largely mistrusted on its release, the football played in 1987/88 served to make it a classic away kit, simply by association to an iconic team. We wore variations of it for the next four years. Our third kit became white shirts, with red shorts and socks. We’d wear it at Villa Park and Upton Park.

That green and white 1991/92 oddity aside, it was the Premier League era that ushered in a spate of awful away kits in random colours, punctuated only when Liverpool’s various kit manufacturers have brought back updated versions of those classic away kits of the 1960s, 70s and 80s.
Crap football also plays its parts in how fondly, or not, a kit is remembered. We had some decent away kits in our most abject campaigns.

When it comes to kit etiquette, another very modern bone of contention is the unnecessary use of away colours. When Tottenham Hotspur travelled to Manchester City for the ‘El VARico’ last Saturday, both teams took to the field in differing shades of blue kits. An abysmal situation for the colourblind.

Robbie and Macca

Liverpool have even partaken in this type of ill-behaviour. We should always wear red, unless we travel to face a team that also plays in red. There needs to be an automatic 3-point deduction for any team recklessly using their away or third kits unnecessarily.

Unfortunately, now there is a contractually agreed amount of times away and third kits must be used by teams, to act as an advertisement, primarily to make children ask their parents for one. It is all about product placement. You know football has completely lost itself to commercialism, when a team wears an away kit and the colour-clash is more of a problem than it would have been had they just worn their home kit instead.

This misses a trick however. The beauty of a third kit was that it would be rarely used, which in turn made it much more alluring to supporters. For instance, there used to be something quite mystical about Norwich City’s away kit, as unless they were sharing a division with Watford, then they could play an entire season without the need to wear their away kit.

Kit couture encompasses the broader spectrum of football for me. Away colours of rival teams from my childhood should never be relinquished. Everton’s second strip should always be all-yellow, with Umbro diamonds along the sleeves, Manchester United should always be in white shirts and black shorts, Manchester City should always be in red and black stripes, Arsenal should always be in yellow shirts and blue shorts, and so on, and so forth.

One thing is for sure however. That new Liverpool third kit just isn’t Liverpool enough.

You can preorder Steven Scragg’s new book A Tournament Frozen in Time now