Get Your Kits Out #2

My son is growing up in a strange world, where politicians tweet, where everyone (kit geeks included) has a blog and whole nations are filing for bankruptcy. Stranger though, for me at least, is Hull City at the sharp end of the Championship off the back of a stint in the promised land of the Premier League. As a 34 year old man, having grown accustomed to City being utter rubbish throughout my childhood and beyond, them even contending for promotion in the second tier is as unnerving as it is good.

It’s going to be a key parental duty to ensure my boy knows just how relatively glorious this period in our club’s history is. He should know how close we came to dropping out of the Football League in 1998/99. Our club was dying; financial mismanagement threatened the club’s existence off the pitch, poor players playing poor football in a crumbling stadium threatened quasi-death on it, we were bottom of the Third Division staring non-league football in the face.

You should know what happened next – Warren Joyce became player-manager, signed some “robust” footballers and we dug ourselves out. We survived. Just.

Why the introspective reminiscence? The 1998/99 kit. The home shirt from that tumultuous campaign is most definitely memorable, but not because it looked good, quite the opposite. There was too much white on it, it featured odd gradients and a very orangey ‘amber’. If this shirt is remembered with fondness it isn’t because of it’s apperance, rather the deeds performed by a group of men who wore it, who pulled off what is now known as the ‘Great Escape’. Being subjective, it’s not a great kit. Being emotive, it’s fantastic.

We were contacted by reader Chris, who has two of these shirts – one match worn and one replica bought from the club shop. Chris asked if we were interested in noting the differences between the shirts worn by our heroes and the one bought from the club ‘shop’ (By shop, we obviously mean the tatty bit at the front of Boothferry Park). Interested? Yes. A lot.

Sponsor Patch

The patch bearing the wordmark of the University of Hull is noticeably thinner on the game shirts – it’s the same width, but thinner by around a 1cm.

Great Escape ShirtClub Crest

The crests on the game shirts are fully embroided whereas the versions sold in the club shop have sewn on patches. The tiger head and text on these patches appears in much greater detail, and there is a black border surrounding these elements that doesn’t feature on the player issue strips.

Great Escape BadgesCollar Tag

The label on the match worn shirt has only the Belgian manufacturer’s logo on it in a livery of grey/silver/black. The replica version however carries the logo of Hull Sharks as well the tigers head that was used on programmes in the 1970s and on various tat in the club shop in the 80s and 90s but hadn’t featured on a shirt until 1998/99. Tennis type David Lloyd owned both City and Hull FC who briefly became the Sharks in an ill advised rebranding. Both clubs shared a city centre club shop nauseatingly called ‘Tiger-Sharks inc.’

Great Escape Collar

Who wore the match worn shirt?

We’re not sure. 1998/99 was the last season numbers 1-11 were used in whatever style the club and manufacturer saw fit, the following year the Football League mandated squad numbers and player names appear on the back of shirts in a homogeneous font used by all 72 League teams.

The number 2 shirt was acquired from “a bloke in Maidenhead” who was given the shirt by someone at the club and he was under the impression that it belonged to Neil Mann. But Neil Mann never wore number 2 at any point that season, ten other players did though; Kevin Gage, Matt Hocking, Mark Greaves, Mike Edwards, Jon French, Steve Hawes, Warren Joyce, Gary Brabin, David D’Auria and Steve Swales.

The sponsor patch on the front suggests this shirt saw plenty of wear, so it likely covered the torso of the majority of the men liated above. This shirt is memorable for reasons other than design – it acts as a timely reminder of how well City fans have got it at the moment.

Many thanks to Chris for showing off his matchworn shirt. Would you like to show off your prized polyester? Get in touch at hello@hullcitykits.co.uk

Get Your Kits Out #1

We’re inviting Tiger Nationals to show off their prized City gear, from vast collections of replica shirts to matchworn kit, from prototype pieces to shirts big enough to fit buildings…

First to accept our invite is lifelong City fan Mike Hawkridge, who can be found in section E5 of the East Stand during home games providing a running commentary for those around him (his best line ever was “Red sky at night, will it be Peter Taylor’s delight?” in a game where City led at sunset).

Despite being a skinny chap, he owns the biggest City shirt ever made, possessing a giant banner featuring the 2007/08 home shirt shirt that was seen throughout the May 2008 play off campain that ended with City being promoted to the Premier League.

The club had the shirt made up ahead of the home leg of the play off semi final against Watford. Before the game kicked off, the banner was passed over the home crowd, starting in the North/East corner and making its way round the lower bowl of the KC Stadium to the North/West corner.

After the game, the club wanted a fan to take the shirt to Wembley and the Fans Liaison Officer contacted Mike, who agreed. “I got it straight after the Waford game and I contacted Wembley to get permission to take it in so it could again be passed around the stands City fans were in. Wembley refused permission though, which was a bit disappointing. In the run up to the play off final, there was a plea on Radio Humberside to have the city awash with flags and banners, and I thought we have to use the shirt somehow.”

Mike had the idea of displaying the shirt on the side of the Princes Quay car park, where it would be visible to anyone passing through the Castle Street dual carriageway.

“The Quay agreed and it looked great draped from the top of the car park, it covered four storeys and touched the ground. The club put a photo of the shirt on their website and recieved loads of messages, they got great feedback from fans all around the world. It was on the car park the day of the final, I got a call from the Quay’s security team saying some drunk City fans had tried to nick it, so they took it down and I collected it the day after the game. It needed some repairs, there was a tear on one of the sides and my mum and sister sewed it up so we could use it during the civic reception.”

Nice work ladies!

“I took it to the parade in front of Hull City Hall, it comes in a massive bag with a picture of the kit on the front, and I waited until the players appeared on the balcony before getting it out and the fans did the rest. I got a text saying it appeared on Sky Sports, and it’s been in my loft since then.”

Many thanks to Mike for showing off his massive sack (the shirt is a bit big to have him hold up on his own). If you have a burning desire to show off your City kits, the rarer the specimens the better, get in touch at hello@hullcitykits.co.uk

We *heart* Tigers Kits

Hello.

We love Hull City.
We love football kits (well, some of them).

It made sense to combine our love of these two things and create a site which both catalogues Hull City kits throughout the history of the club and reviews them too. Oh, and we won’t always resort to images of page 3 girls in City shirts to grab your attention.

Add us to your favourites and watch this space.

@jghull and @SombreEthyl (or “James” and “Les” if you prefer)