Kit Review: 2007/08 Away

Remember what happened in 2008?

That’s right – Hull City had the finest away strip in their 104 year history.

OK, City also managed to end their long wait for a Wembley appearance in 2008, winning there too, and yes, in doing so they entered the top flight for the first time. However, this kit is pretty memorable too, and would surely have been just as fondly remembered if it didn’t feature in a promotion year, if it had been worn in a “typical City” season of mid-table obscurity.

Before departing to be replaced by Paul Duffen, Adam Pearson signed a 3 year deal with Umbro to design and produce City’s kits. The very same Umbro who supplied (and continue to supply) the national team.

This change in manufacturer is worth remembering – I grew up wearing Pelada, Avec, SuperLeague and Olympic. Admittedly, in the years before 2007, the kit manufacturers were more well known with Patrick and latterly Diadora, but Umbro? This was a large step forward in the kit make credibility stakes.

A template kit “shared” with Glasgow Rangers (the same template was used as their home kit the season previous), City’s away kit was an all white affair. A simple v-necked shirt with a double stripe of amber and black around the neck and from shoulder to shoulder. Under the arms, shaped panels provided ventilation as well as a design feature.

Plain white shorts with diamond detailing on either seam and plain white socks with the double diamond logo of Umbro on the shin completed the kit.

The sponsor was fundamentally the same on both home and away kits, local telecomms company Kingston Communications, but they chose to reflect their different brands with the home shirt carrying the KAROO brand wordmark whilst the away shirt carried the parent company logo and name.

The marketing agency I’m based at were involved in the launch and encouraged by Umbro, ran a ‘teaser’ campaign that gave glimpses of both kits ahead of the summer 2007 launch. I was fortunate to see the kit early and knew it would be a hit. The players modelling it during the “lifestyle” shoot, Damien Delaney, John Welsh and Andy Dawson loved it too.

Above is an unedited, never before seen image from the studio shoot. Photography by Paul Edgar and R&R Studios.

The kit’s first outing was in the always eagerly anticipated annual friendly at North Ferriby, with City wearing the home kit for a half and the away kit for a half. The first competitive game it saw use in was at Coventry and it was later used in games at Blackpool, Wolves, Norwich, Crystal Palace, Watford, Scunny and Sheffield United.

The finest hour for this kit came in one of City’s finest hours (or hour and a halfs if you must) – away at Watford in the Championship Play Off Semi Final first leg, a pulsating game that culminated in a 2-0 Tigers win. The sun shone, we won and we looked superb in doing so.

I’m fortunate to have a signed and framed version of this shirt on the wall next to my desk – that’s how highly I regard this strip. Having said that, if anyone wants to pop round to the office and tell me which signature belongs to whom, feel free!

A memorable season as a City fan for many obvious reasons but for me, one of the reasons I’ll remember it is for the away strip which accompanied *that* historic season.

City in red and black? Bet on it

Most people think of 3rd kits as a fairly recent innovation, a Premier League era concept intended to generate cash from sales of replica shirts, but The Tigers made use of a 3rd kit way back in 1971.

For much of early 1970s, City wore a traditional all white away kit when the amber shirts, black shorts and amber socks of the first choice strip were deemed too similar to the hues of a home side on our travels. In 1971/72, all white was used at Liverpool (League Cup), Swindon (League) and Norwich (FA Cup).

The Tigers also made use of a positively AC Milan-esque ensemble as an alternate away kit. It comprised of red and black striped shirts, black shorts and black socks with red bands. We wore this combination against Cardiff in a 1-1 draw in August 1971, then in another one-all at Blackpool in December and in a 2-2 draw at Oxford United in March 1972 (shown below as Ken Wagstaff takes a tumble).

It is curious that we didn’t use the white away kit at Oxford, even against Cardiff City we may have gotten away with all white despite The Bluebirds wearing white shorts with blue shirts, as referees were a lot less picky about teams wearing the same colour shorts in that era.

Still, this largely overlooked outfit adds to the richness of our kit history, it is rare for a team who often play in shirts with black stripes worn with black shorts and socks to get to wear another such kit featuring a colour not on their regular palette, and this is a kit that could only really be used in years when our home kit is of the plain amber shirted variety.

Illustration kindly supplied by John Devlin of the ace True Colours Football Kits