A bit like Christmas promotions in the shops during November, and Cadbury’s Crème Eggs adverts in February, it seems to get earlier each year. Already the leaks are starting to drip out. Some may be fakes, but rest assured somebody, somewhere has seen the real ones. It’s the ‘must have’ fashion accessory for any footballista. On the beaches of Benidorm, in the bars in Barbados and the hotels in lots of other hotspots, they’ll be worn proudly. It’s your team’s new seasonshirt.
Sad to say, I’m old enough to remember when teams wore the same strips year in, year out. My team always wore all blue, but with white socks, Manchester United, red and white, and Everton blue and white. Ah, you may, they still do – and you’re right. The kit manufacturers are astute enough to know that they can play around with ‘Away’ strips and even the now ubiquitous ‘third’ kits, but traditional colours are what we pin to our masts, they can’t be changed. The trick is in tweaking a new flash here or there; having the sponsor’s name in a different colour or different edgings, or whatever. It’s a bit of fine tuning, rather than a change.
Now you might think that I’m now going to rage on about commercial exploitation of football fans. Well, no. I know the story that people say parents are consistently being blackmailed to buy ten year old little Johnny the latest strip because “everybody else has one” and there may be some truth in that. It remains a stubborn truth however that consistently over the years, the best-selling shirt size has been XL, not a kid’s size.
Personally, I quite like the the ‘annual’ kit turnover. As long as they don’t mess with the ‘core’ colours, it’s fine by me. The one thing I always insist on however is not buying my shirt from some emporium of tat operated by one football director or another, or any other similar outlet. My brass always goes to the club shop. If someone’s going to rip me off to the tune of fifty quid or so, for a piece of nylon that probably cost three quid to produce, I want that to be my club. I don’t mind giving them the brass so much.
So, although it was a bit of banter to talk about football strips being worn on holiday – I never take mine – I think going to a game in your shirt is important. Even wearing it around the house is fine. I’ve got an old Anelka shirt on as I type. It’s your symbol of belonging; a statement that you’re sharing in the glories and the disasters. So while others scoff, let them. It’s because they don’t understand. When the new season kicks off, you’ll have your new shirt and all the hope that comes with it. Show your team that you care. Get your kits out for the lads.