Whilst clubs are historically tied to their home colours designers can often let their imaginations run free with the away tops. This has produced some genuine crimes of fashion in recent times – the Villa and Chelsea monstrosities from the mid-nineties immediately spring to mind – but also some absolute pearlers too. Kevin Henning elects his five most iconic and five all-time classics that have emerged from the tunnel down the years to boos from the home fans…but only for the players wearing them.
Arsenal – yellow shirts, blue sleeves and shorts, yellow socks. The kit worn in the match SKY wish they could emulate. Arsenal arrived at Anfield in their usual away strip of yellow and blue and set about eclipsing anything Melchester Rovers ever managed.
Such a good kit that neighbours Tottenham tried to imitate it years later. Just a glance of this shirt and you can hear Brian Moore as clear as day – “It’s up for grabs nowwwwwww!!!”
A.C.Milan – all white. The rossineri won their first European Cup in an away kit of all white and so decided to wear it for cup finals whenever possible. When drawn as the home team at Old Trafford for the Champions League Final against arch rivals Juventus, Milan still insisted on donning the changed strip.
Manchester United – all black. It pains me to say it as a blue, but if ever a kit suited a team during a specific period, it’s United’s black away kit of the ’90’s. Whether it was Kanchelskis, Sharpe and Giggs counter attacking like a bunch of Olympic sprinters or Keane, Cantona , Ince and Hughes kicking everything in sight, this devilish outfit was tailor made for one of the moodiest sides of the SKY era.
Liverpool – white shirts, black shorts, white socks. The most effortless kit in football. Liverpool were so good in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s that they didn’t even bother thinking of an away kit. They merely turned up at places like Munich, Wembley and Tokyo dressed like a school team, won vital matches and did one home.
Tottenham Hotspur – all yellow. Again, a kit that I am loathe to talk about. Tottenham developed a disturbing habit in the ‘90’s of rolling in to Moss Side and dumping Manchester City out of whatever competition they happened to be competing in. In a single season, I witnessed the North Londoners put City to the sword in the League (0-1), the League Cup (0-1) and the F.A. Cup (2-4) wearing their lucky away colours. Indeed, it has long been a belief of mine that City’s mass pitch invasion live on BBC was not an act of frustration but rather a demonstration to protest against Spurs’ canary outfit.
Manchester City – white with red and black sash, black shorts, black socks. Winner of True Colours’ (the football kit history site) Premier League kit of the season for the 2010-11 campaign, this is probably my number 1 City kit of the 23 years that I have supported them. The fact that sponsors Etihad were prepared to allow their name to take a back seat gives the shirt a classic look and convinces one to believe that in these money driven times, the football club are still the most important aspect. An absolute classic with both a nostalgic feel and a modern design. Simply beautiful.
West Ham United – all sky blue with two claret bands across the shirt. The self proclaimed “Academy of English Football” have always produced quality players down the years. Unfortunately, they’ve mostly produced them for every other team but themselves. Never the less, the Hammers have toured the country playing an ambitious brand of football wearing one of the most simple yet unique away kits on many occasions.
Newcastle United – dark red and blue hoops, ecru shorts, red socks. In a period of the Premier League when the Toon Army were the most exciting side in it, this unusual strip added to the need for the neutral to witness their kamikaze attempt at becoming champions of it. The grandad collar kept it looking stylish and the sight of David Ginola turning defenders inside-out wearing this will be a cherished memory for the boozers of Bigg Market for years to come.
Hull City 1992-93 – all white. Any kit that meant the Humbersiders weren’t wearing the horrific tiger print home strip has to be a blessing. In actual fact, having lived in Hull for over a decade, they have had a few quality away shirts. Amber and black detailing on a white shirt looks the part while keeping the identity of the club. An extremely loyal and sometimes hostile support may not appreciate my mocking of the infamous tiger kit, I’ll keep my head down round here for a while.
Sampdoria – white shirts, blue shorts, white socks. If Sampa’s home kits is my favourite in world football, how can I ignore an away which takes a classic idea and makes it better? If I was Genoese, I’d be wearing these shirts on a daily basis. They look like the Italian equivalent of QPR, not the best team by any stretch of the imagination, but easily the coolest.