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.

WHAT IS THE WORST KIT OF ALL TIME?

Let me know in the comment box below


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Premier League – Transfer Flops XI


We’re almost halfway through the transfer window and with hundreds of millions of pounds still burning a hole in the pocket of Premier League managers it is to be expected that there will be some pricey moves ahead of the August 31st deadline.  Every fan loves to see a young player come through the youth set up and force their way into the 1st team, but there is also something uniquely satisfying about the board sanctioning a big money move for a player with an exotic sounding surname or a reputation on the continent.

Unfortunately, for every Peter Schmeichel, there’s a Massimo Taibi, for every Didier Drogba there’s a Mateja Kezman and for every Sammi Hyypia there is a Jean-Alain Boumsong. In this article I will look at some of the most spectacular Premier League flops imported from foreign shores and pick and XI from them.

I would also love your comments on any players you think that I’ve missed out or ones that I’ve unjustly given a bad press.

Gk – Massimo Taibi

£4.7m Venezia to Manchester United

Peter Schmeichel’s gloves were never going to be easy to fill, but Massino Taibi didn’t even come close. After 4 appearances as Manchester United ‘number 1’, in which he conceded 10 including particular howlers against Liverpool  and Chelsea, Taibi was packed back off to Italy never to return to Lancashire. Taibi retired in 2009 playing for Serie B team Ascoli Calcio.

Rb – Per Kroldrup

£5m Udinese to Everton

After qualifying for the Champions League in 2005, Everton manager David Moyes bolstered his defensive options with the acquisition of Danish international defender Kroldrup. After just 1 appearance however, Moyes decided Kroldrup wasn’t quite up to the job and sold him to Fiorentina for an undisclosed fee.

Cb – Marcelino

£6.7m Real Mallorca to Newcastle United

Signed in 1999, Marcelino came with a reputation as a classy centre back, who had been instrumental to Real Mallorca as they established themselves in La Liga and qualified for Europe. Unfortunately, Marcelino suffered injury after injury when he arrived at St. James Park, making just 20 appearances in 4 years, before being released on a free transfer and joining Poli Ejido in the Spanish lower leagues. He retired in 2004 and currently works as an agent.          

Cb – Jean-Alain Boumsong

£8m Rangers to Newcastle United

After just half a season in the SPL with Rangers, Graeme Souness spent £8m bringing the centre back to St. James Park on a lucrative 5 and a half year contract. A string of calamitous mistakes led to Boumsong being dropped, and after just 1 full season he was sold to Juventus for £2.5m. Boumsong currently ply’s his trade in the Greek Super League with Panathiniakos.

Lb – Winston Bogarde

‘Free’ Barcelona to Chelsea

Winston Bogarde, a 20 time capped Dutch international joined Chelsea from Barcelona with a reputation as a powerhouse defender. Unfortunately we never found out what Bogarde was capable of. Early into his time at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea manager Claudio Ranieri attempted to sell Bogarde, he refused to leave as no one would match his lucrative contract. He spent 3 seasons without making a single appearance before retiring in 2004.  He wrote in his autobiography – ‘This world is about money, so when you are offered those millions you take them. Few people will ever earn so many. I am one of the few fortunates who do. I may be one of the worst buys in the history of the Premiership but I don’t care.’

Rw – Sergei Rebrov

£11m Dinamo Kiev to Tottenham Hotspur

In 2000 George Graham broke Spurs transfer record to bring the striker come winger to White Hart Lane. The move failed spectacularly, with Rebrov netting 9 goals in his first season and just 1 in 32 appearances in his second and final season in North London. He was sent out on loan for 2 years with Fenerbache, before being released on a free transfer. Rebrov retired in 2009 playing for Russian Premier League side Rubin Kazan.

Cm – Juan Sebastian Veron 

£28.1m Lazio to Manchester United

Still regarded as a wonderful player, but ridiculously unsuited to the Premier League, Veron joined Manchester United for a then British record transfer fee. During his two seasons at Old Trafford, Veron failed to cope with the pace of the Premier League as well as dislodge Roy Keane, Paul Scholes and Nicky Butt from their central midfield berths. He joined Chelsea in 2003 for £15m where he made 7 league appearances in 4 years before being released on a free transfer to play for Argentinian club side Estudiantes, where he remains today.

Cm – Bruno Cheyrou

£4.5m Lille to Liverpool

The ‘New Zidane’ as he was hailed by Liverpool manager and French talent spotter Gerard Houllier only lived up to that mantle due to their shared ‘Capuchin monk esque’ hairstyle. Cheyrou lasted 2 years at Anfield from 2002 before being farmed out on loan to Marseille, then Bordeaux, eventually being released in 2006. He currently plays for French Ligue 2 side Nantes.

Lw – Albert Luque 

£9.5m Deportivo La Coruna to Newcastle United

Graeme Souness makes his second appearance for buying a stinker on the list. In 2005 he purchased Albert Luque for a whopping £9.5m on a 5 year contract, Unfortunately, Luque seemed unable to deal with the robust, physical nature of the Premier League and after 2 seasons in which he made a sum total of 21 appearances he left to join Ajax for an undisclosed fee. Luque is currently without a club after being released by La Liga side Malaga.

Fw- Bosko Balaban

£6m Dinamo Zagreb to Aston Villa

Croatian international striker Balaban was signed by Aston Villa Manager John Gregory in 2001. He lasted 2 and a half years at Villa Park, in which he never started a Premier League game. In 2003 he received a £1m pay off and left to join Club Brugge on a free transfer. He is currently playing for Panionios in the Greek Super League.

 

Fw – Andriy Shevchenko

£30.8m A.C. Milan to Chelsea

Bought by Chelsea, reportedly because he was good friends with owner Roman Abramovich, the former Ballon D’or winner looked like a shadow of the man who twice won the Serie A golden boot with A.C. Milan. In 3 seasons from 2006-2009 Shevchenko managed a meagre 9 goals, before being released on a free transfer to join Dinamo Kiev, where he remains to this day.

One Cap Wonders


International friendly week can often throw up an odd inclusion or a player drafted in as a stop gap. In most sports the pinnacle is representing your country and every young English footballer must dream that one day they’ll represent England and wear the famous ‘Three Lions’. But, there is one exclusive club that nobody wants to join, the ever growing list of ‘One Cap Wonders’, with that in mind, I decided to look at some of the players who appeared once for their country and then never again.

 

Neil ‘Razor’ Ruddock (1/0)

vs Nigeria; 1-0; Nov’ 1994

Neil ‘Razor’ Ruddock was at the heart of Liverpool’s defence during the mid 90’s and it was at this time that he got his first and last call up to represent his country. Ruddock says he was at a funeral when he received word that he had been called up to one of Terry Venables pre Euro’96 squads and “believed it to be a wind up”. Ruddock played well in the game, getting a full 90 minutes and helping England keep a clean sheet against a talented Nigeria side, but it wasn’t enough to earn him another chance with the national team.

Throughout his career he battled with weight problems and was often criticised for being unfit, as well as disciplinary problems, which saw Ruddock break both of Andy Cole’s legs in a reserve fixture and Peter Beardsley’s cheek bone in a testimonial match. The emergence of Gareth Southgate and Sol Campbell at centre back led to Ruddock being marginalised.

Ruddock went on to make 115 appearances for Liverpool and had spells at QPR, West Ham, Crystal Palace and Swindon Town. Ruddock retired from football in 2003 and he currently makes regular reality tv appearances.

Seth Johnson (1/1)

vs Italy; 0-1; Nov’ 2000

 Seth Johnson, a tenacious young central midfielder, plying his trade in the lower leagues with Crewe  Alexandra, began to win plaudits for his role in the clubs survival in the Championship by a single point  in the 1998/99 season. Part of Dario Gradi’s fantastic production line at the south Cheshire club, which  had produced England internationals such as David Platt, Danny Murphy, Rob Jones and fellow one   cap wonder Dean Ashton, Johnson’s potential led to him being recruited by Premier League outfit  Derby County for £3m.

A year into his stay with Derby, Johnson was called up to the England squad by Peter Taylor (caretaker manager for one game) to face Italy in a friendly. England suffered a 1-0 defeat at the hands of the Azzurri on a wet and windy night at a 30% full Stadio delle Alpi in Turin. The game being noted as David Beckham’s first as England captain and for Gennaro Gattuso scoring what is still his only goal for Italy in 73 caps. Johnson came on as a 73rd minute sub for Gareth Barry, making his 17 minutes in and England shirt one of the shortest international careers in history.

There is an interesting anecdote allegedly about Seth Johnson doing the rounds from his £7m move from Derby to Leeds United in 2001. In his personal terms negotiations with Peter Risdale (Leeds Chairman) Johnson and his agent agreed in advance to hold out for £16k a week. So Risdale opens up the talks with “We are willing to pay you £26k a week”. The flabbergasted agent replies “Well that wasn’t quite what we were expecting”. “Right so, £32k a week is my final offer” said Risdale. Seth Johnson is reported to have fallen of his chair.

Seth Johnson suffered multiple injury problems and returned to Derby from Leeds on a free transfer in 2005, from where he was released in 2007. He is currently without a club.

Michael Ricketts (1/0)

vs Netherlands; 1-1;  Feb’ 2002

The 2001/2002 season started magically for Ricketts, after gaining promotion with Bolton Wanderers the previous season, Ricketts had a blistering start to the campaign scoring 15 Premier League goals by January, including the winner in a 2-1 win over Manchester United at Old Trafford. Sven Goran Eriksson called Ricketts up to a pre World Cup’2002 experimental squad to face the Netherlands in a friendly at the Amsterdam Arena, along with fellow debutants Darius Vassell and Wayne Bridge. Ricketts started the match and managed 45 minutes, before being substituted for Kevin Phillips.

Michael Ricketts failed to score another league goal for over a year following his first and last England cap and has subsequently only scored 26 goals in the following 9 years at 11 different league clubs.

Ricketts is currently a free agent after being released by Tranmere Rovers in January 2010, he is also serving a 12 month community order for assaulting his ex-girlfriend.

 Lee Bowyer (1/0)

vs Portugal; 1-1; Sep’2002

Lee Bowyer first drew attention in 1995, when he failed a drugs test for cannabis use. Bowyer was dropped from the England U18 squad and suspended by his club Charlton Athletic for eight weeks while he took part in a drug rehabilitation course organised by the FA. The following year Bowyer was signed by Leeds United for £2.8m, at the time a record for a British teenager.

It took some time for Bowyer to break into the Leeds first team, but under David O’Leary he soon made the central midfield role his own, becoming a key player in the side that qualified for the Champions League in 99/00, and which reached the semi finals of the competition in 2001, in which he scored crucial goals against A.C. Milan and Barcelona. He was voted the Leeds player of the year by supporters in both the 98/99and 00/01 seasons.

Bowyer’s form led to calls for inclusion in the England squad; however, the FA ruled that he could not be selected until the court case in relation to an assault on an Asian student was completed.The FA eventually cleared Bowyer for selection following the conclusion of the court case and England manager Sven Goran Eriksson called him into the squad for an international friendly against Portugal in September 2002.

Bowyer started the game, made an assist and acquitted himself well, lasting 62 minutes before being replaced by Trevor Sinclair. England drew the game 1-1, a game in which another one cap wonder made his only appearance; David Dunn coming on as a second half substitute for Steven Gerrard.

Bowyer moved to West Ham United, his boyhood club the following year, before a spell at Newcastle United where he was involved in an infamous on pitch bust up with team mate Kieron Dyer, in which they were both sent off. In 2006 he rejoined West Ham, where he spent 3 seasons before moving to Birmingham City on a free transfer in 2009.

Bowyer is currently without a club after being released by Birmingham City following their relegation to the Championship. He has made over 400 Premier League appearances scoring 58 goals.

 

Francis Jeffers (1/1)

vs Australia; 1-3; Feb’2003

Francis Jeffers was a prolific goalscorer with Everton as a youngster, scoring 20 league  goals in 45 games and earning the coveted strikers nickname ‘fox in the box’. In 2001 he  was recruited by Arsene Wenger to join the Arsenal revolution for £8m, linking up with  strikers Dennis Bergkamp, Thierry Henry, Kanu and Sylvain Wiltord. Jeffers time at  Arsenal was dogged by injury, but the youngster who still holds the England U21 goal  scoring record (13 goals in 16 caps) managed a call up to Sven Goran Eriksson’s full  squad for a friendly with Australia in 2003 at Upton Park.

Jeffers came on as a second half substitute, replacing Michael Owen and managed to    score a terrific glancing header, but the game will be remembered chiefly for the humiliating 3-1 defeat and for the England debut of Wayne Rooney as well as Paul Robinson, James Beattie, Jermaine Jenas and Paul Konchesky. Jeffers only made a handful of further appearances for Arsenal before joining Everton on loan and moving on to a further 7 different clubs, including Rangers, Sheffield Wednesday, Blackburn Rovers and Australian A League side Newcastle Jets.

In the 8 years following his England appearance he has only managed a total of 14 league goals. Jeffers is currently playing for SPL side Motherwell, where his contract expires at the end of June 2011.