Football’s Worst Kits

With the new football season rapidly approaching, a wave of fresh optimism immerses every football fan ‘this season will be better than the last’. It’s at this time of year that our football clubs, the length and breadth of the country launch new kits for the forth-coming season. Star players will be parading the new strips on cat walks and fashion shoots, there will be gimmicks and there will be unique selling points – Arsenal and Aston Villa’s new home shirts are made entirely from recycled plastic bottles, Liverpool’s 3rd strip is controversially blue and Fulham are launching a new skin tight shirt based on the template of recent AS Roma and Italy shirts.

Unfortunately kit makers don’t seem to make shirts anymore that go down in the annals of history as major fashions faux-pas. The home strips remain largely consistent, with minimal creativity being reserved for the away or 3rd strip. Focus is placed on incorporating the name of the sponsor and technology that helps to improve acceleration, explosive power and air flow to the skin.

Although the horror strip has become something of a rarity, fortunately in the 1990’s, the decade of the dungarees, MC Hammer trousers and neon coloured clothing, football kit designers and marketing departments had licence to put any clashing colours together to help flog their wares.

This blog is all about celebrating those ‘horrors’, the monstrosities that still haunt your club to this day, from the ‘decade that style forgot’. There’s also one or two blunders from the last few years for good measure.

So here is 10 of the worst or best in my opinion, and I would love your comments on some others that I might have missed out. (Click on the images to get a better look)

Celtic – away 1991-1992

Celtic, absolutely synonymous with the classic green and white hoops, yet when it comes to away strips they get a little creative. Unfortunately this away shirt from the early 90’s, with the downward zig zag, resembling the fall in Fords stock market value or possibly the outline of the Grampian mountains didn’t match the quality of their home shirt. Combining  pistachio green and brown, this shirt that was due to run for 2 seasons was unceremoniously ditched after just 1 season.

Hull City – home 1992-1993

Designer: “What’s your club’s nickname?” Chairman: “The Tigers.” Designer: “Right, that’ll do.” In a ground-breaking moment in football fashion, Hull unveiled a Tiger-skin shirt in 1992. Nothing of its like has been seen since, although perhaps it inspired some of the outfits worn by Spice Girl Mel B.

Norwich City – home 1992-1994

This early 90’s shocker was affectionately known by fans as the ‘bird poo’ kit, pretty apt considering the team are nicknamed the Canaries. Norwich wore the shirt for consecutive season, which were the first two of the newly formed Premier League giving the shirt and instant place in the collective football memory.

Barcelona – away 1994-1995

Turquoise, a colour rarely seen in football shirts, yet regularly used by Barcelona and often to good effect, but this effort from the mid 90’s, worn under the stewardship of Johann Cruyff and adorned by greats such as Hristo Stoichkov, Romario and Luis Figo did match the quality on the pitch. The turquoise blocks on the front of the shirt resembling some sort of Pablo Picasso tribute, done to poor effect.

Notts County away 1994-1995

Notts County were dropping through the leagues like a stone and this kit did little to improve the morale of fans. A tartan ensemble, with little relation the clubs history did not prove much of a hit on the terraces. Quite why a club 150 miles south of Hadrian’s Wall decided to adopt the Scottish look remains a mystery.

Chelsea – away 1994-1996

Chelsea have had there fair share of stinkers over the last few years. The fluorescent away strip from 2 seasons past, that resembled a cycling jacket was pretty horrific, but this away shirt from the mid 90’s is comfortably their worst. It’s rare you see orange and grey come together – club legends Dennis Wise and Ruud Gullit must grimace seeing pictures of themselves in this shirt.

England (goalkeeper) – away – 1995-1996

The first time an England goalkeeper had worn all red since the glory of 1966 and this was the result – David Seaman looked like a traffic light or a poor mans clown in this kit. In an era where goalkeeper shirts got gradually more and more outrageous, this shirt marked the tipping point with all subsequent England goalkeeper shirts being plain. Only ever worn on three occasions, most famously during England 5-6 penalty shoot out defeat to Germany at Euro ’96, the kit will always be remembered.

Manchester United – away 1995-1996

3-0 to Southampton on an overcast spring morning at ‘The Dell’ in 1996 Sir Alex Ferguson made his team change strip at half time to a blue and white ensemble claiming that the players couldn’t see each other properly, due to colour of the shirt blending in with the crowd. As excuses go, its up there as one of the more far fetched for a poor performance, but it guarantees this shirt a place on in football folklore.

Newcastle United – away 2009-2010

After suffering the humiliation of relegation from the Premier League, Newcastle announced the arrival of their new strip for their promotion push and campaign in the Championship. Most fans expected a classic, understated shirt after the failures of the previous season but this striped, canary yellow was anything but. Fortunately Newcastle went on to win the Championship at a canter so fans will have happy memories to associate with this garish piece. 

Everton – away 2010-2011

Pink or magenta officially is  a colour that doesn’t always find itself translated well in the macho image of football, so it was quite a surprise when Everton released their away strip for last season. The science behind it, is such that Everton believed their players would be more visible to each other in their peripheral vision. It remains to be seen if other teams will copy this approach, yet it is highly unlikely.


Let me know in the comment box below


About oreillyskills
The blog of a Journalism student with the mission of providing an informative and entertaining spin on the most hotly-debated football stories and an irreverent look at the funny side of the beautiful game.

13 Responses to Football’s Worst Kits

  1. John Davies says:

    Do you remember the kits that Mexican goalkeeper used to wear. Outrageous.

    • Jorge Campos…………………….Yes

      He used to have carte blanche to design his own kit for Mexico, not sure whether the same applied to his club team.

      I would have been able to do a ‘top 10’ of just his shirts, but would have struggled to pick just one so I left him out. Glad you’ve mentioned him though because any worst kits list is incomplete without a mention for Jorge Campos.

      Pretty certain he was a decent keeper as well.

  2. Phil Hopkins says:

    Great idea for a blog.

    I remember a few of the Jorge Campos ones. Shockers.

  3. David Betteridge says:

    My club Luton Town had an awful shirt in the early 90’s. Red, white and blue with USA as the sponsor in huge letters.

    I still have nightmares about that one.

    • Ha ha. I just googled the shirt. I wish I’d included that now, perhaps instead of the Notts County one. What was the reason behind having USA across the front?

    • David Betteridge says:

      Not sure. Potentially had something to do with the approaching USA 1994 World Cup, but really have no idea.

  4. Keef says:

    Stoke City 1996/97

    Dark blue tie dye with Stoke written across the front. Google it.

    p.s Read some of your other posts. Excellent blog. Keep it up pal.

    • Thanks for the positive comment. Each week I’m trying to look at a funny side of the game, without getting political about it or crossing club loyalty lines. I want to write pieces that hold relevance in a years time, not just venting about the latest football news.

      With regards to the Stoke City shirt. Shocker. It looks like the sort of fake shirt you can buy from a market stall. I doubt they make fashion faux-pas like that now they’re in the big time.

  5. Steve Leek says:

    You’ve forgotten two horrible Derby County strips. The 93/94 ‘barcode’ away shirt and the 95/96 maroon third kit – based on Hearts’ shirt. Anything based on the SPL was bound to be woeful!!

  6. Andy Brunning says:

    Wow, that Barcelona one really fucks with your eyes. This post inspired me to go on a mini quest for other bad shirts, and I must say this Birmingham one is up there:
    And this Bilbao one is also pretty special:… what were they thinking? “Yes, we’re positive that large amorphous blobs on a football kit will look AWESOME.”

  7. ania20 says:

    My flatmate said she would wear the pink one?

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