by Jim Larrison
In the early days of the modern football game in England there was very little in the way of football clothing for football fans to show their club allegiances.
Football Replica kits were not on sale to fans in those early days, how strange it might seem now that the country’s top teams played in kits that didn’t feature either a manufacturer’s name nor a sponsor’s name and logo.
Back in those halcyon days football fans would more often than not be dressed in shirt, tie & suit and would show their colours with a scarf or bobble-hat knotted by their mother. On a special occasion such as a cup final, fans might even stretch to wearing a rosette on their jackets!
As the modern football era has come along football shirts have evolved and a plethora of football replica kits, training kits and football t-shirts are now available for football fans.
Gone are the traditional heavy cotton football shirts, a modern footballer plays in lightweight nylon/lycra shirts. Today’s fans can buy a replica kit and show their support by wearing the same tops that their footballing heroes wear on a match-day.
These replica kits represent a huge marketing opportunity for clubs in the form of attracting significant sums from kit manufacturers and shirt sponsors and unfortunately the fans have to pay a very high price for these cheaply produced shirts.
Many fans protest against this commercialisation of the game and prefer to buy retro football shirts in the old style, free of any corporate logos. Alternatively fans are now able to choose from a wide range of football t-shirts that are aimed more directly at football fans and the facets of their club that are important to them.
The most popular football t-shirts are those that other fans of a supporters’ club will appreciate, but may well be lost on “outsiders”, along with other t-shirts that express the wearer’s favourite players, their club’s successes, their support for their club or often their loathing of a rival club.
The current season has seen some interesting changes in the Football Shirts market, most notably with Aston Villa opting to forgo a shirt sponsorship deal and to advertise ‘Acorns’, a local children’s hospice on their shirts.
West Bromwich Albion were unable to sign up a shirt sponsor so started the season with a plain kit with no sponsor’s logo, a look which has proved popular amongst many other clubs’ fans.
West Ham’s original sponsor XL collapsed and this resulted in West Ham playing in shirts with the old sponsors’ logos covered up. Fans lobbied for the shirts to feature logos from the Bobby Moore charity in the absence of any new sponsorship deal, but a new deal has subsequently been agreed with SBOBET.
Whatever happens to the beautiful game in the future, you can be sure that football fans will continue to show their colours, wearing football replica kits and football t-shirts. There is no better sight than Wembley in May, full of football fans decked out in the colours of their team.