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2014/15 home kit by Umbro – First impressions

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The wait is over…Umbro have unveiled the primary kit City will wear both home and abroad in 2014/15. So what do the HCK kit geeks make of it?

SombreEthyl: “Oh that’s beautiful. Very, very beautiful.

I consider the 1990-92 Matchwinner home to be the ideal City shirt; bold stripes with plain amber sleeves. Or at least, I did. This, I think, employs that look even better, it screams ‘HULL CITY’ even if the badge doesn’t carry the name.

As far as Umbro’s remit goes, they’ve nailed it, it’s a classic looking City kit with some neat technical features (such as the small white disc topped ventilation holes on the back). Simple round collar, lots of stripes that aren’t too thin, and solid amber sleeves to brighten a shirt that could look quite dark if the sleeves are striped too, or as they have been at times, solid black. Amber is the most important tone in our colour scheme, our kits should be bright, even with a striped shirt, and this is the way to achieve that.

Similarly, the socks should have lots of amber in them too, and if we aren’t replicating last years gorgeous hooped socks, then all amber is the next best thing. The thin black stripe on the foldover band complements the simple and elegant black shorts, which have an amber stripe of the same width on each side.

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The image leaked the day before the unveiling (grr, I hate grainy leaked pictures that have people on Twitter slagging off details they can’t see properly or may well have since been changed) showed a shirt with wonky alignment of the Umbro double diamond and club crest, that seems to have been put right, as has the sponsor, which was on a black background that did the shirt no favours at all.

The sponsor then… I have no problem with betting firms advertising on football shirts (I don’t like shirt advertising full stop, there are plenty of ways to be sponsored that don’t involve turning a team’s primary identifying mark into a billboard, but hey ho, this isn’t the time for that debate), so 12BET is a significant improvement on a pawn shop/payday moneylender.

My concern then is whether a sponsors logo affects the visual integrity of a shirt by being too big, or using colours that clash with a teams palette. With the earlier black background plate that was the case, but now that the sponsor is applied as white text with a black background, 12BET’s logo doesn’t look intrusive, and I actually think the logographic Chinese text looks cool. Nobody with Hull City’s interests at heart has opposed the club trying to tap into the Asian market for sponsorship, they just don’t think changing the club’s name to that end is worth that or necessary, and seeing hanzi text on a City shirt proves that.

The crest then… Y’know, as a shirt badge, which is often different from a club crest or a single element of it (think Arsenal with just a cannon, or City from the 1940s-1970s with a scraggy looking tiger that never appeared anywhere but on the shirts), the shield with just the tiger head and ‘1904’ looks alright, although I still think it’s daft to not have the club’s name on the shirt. It’s when you see a nameless crest on the side of the KC Stadium that it looks silly, but as a shirt badge it’s not so bad (it’s better than the awful clipart crab crest from the 1999/2000 shirt, which crest aside, I love) though I’d much prefer the beloved crest used from 2002 till the FA Cup final.

If this had the old crest, I’d declare this the perfect Hull City kit, and since the crest switch is on the club and not the supplier, Umbro should be praised to high heaven for providing the club with a perfect Hull City kit.

Verdict: Very close to perfection.

The club have indicated there may be a different sponsor or the club’s charity of the year on the shirts used in Europe, so there is the worry of an intrusive logo yet to be allayed there, but for now I’m very happy with that home kit and I’m looking forward to seeing the club’s own name and numbers fonts for Europe too.”

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JGHull: “That’s almost it. That’s not just the latest Hull City AFC kit, that’s almost *the* Hull City AFC kit. There are two things which prevent me from fawning over it completely, with one maybe more major than the other.

I’ve got to agree with SombreEthyl (which pains us both) but I think Umbro have hit their brief squarely on the head. It’s a gorgeous, bold striped shirt with a simple, slightly old fashioned collar. I like the amber sleeves too. The white Umbro detailing on the sleeve cuff adds a little something. It’s the perfect Hull City shirt.

But I can’t get past the badge.

The new badge actually looks OK in situ and I’m going to leave the politics out of it (but would seriously prefer our shirts to carry our proper name) but what went on with the kerning (designer-ponce word for the spacing between the letters)? Why is the 1 of 1904 so far away from the rest of the numbers? It’s such a simple thing. I’ve seen someone tweak it and post on Twitter and it makes such a difference. 2 more minutes spent on the badge artwork and it would have been so much tidier. I can’t unsee it. I suspect the embroidery may cover it up slightly as it might be hard to replicate at that small size with a needle and thread but look at it at a decent size and the kerning really lets it down. You can see it now too can’t you? Sorry.

To summarise, put the old crest on and we’re done – Hull City shirt design could be ticked off as mission completed. It’s that good.

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As for the full kit, I’d always have hooped hosiery. Always. It just looks fantastic with the striped shirts. Maybe next year Umbro? However, that’s a minor gripe really.

My last words are reserved for the sponsor. I think the Chinese text looks brilliant. Seriously. A Hull City shirt carrying an Asian sponsor looks brilliant – I don’t really care that it’s a bookies. Let’s face it, the horse has bolted on bookies slapping their names all over Premier League kits but as a logo, 12BET looks great. I’m glad the design was changed from a black sponsors patch across the stripes to an heavy black keylined logo too (the patch being seen on the leak that SombreEthyl refers to above). To top it off, the club seem happy that it’s a great deal for them which frankly makes it a great deal for everyone. An Asian sponsor paying good money and without having to change the club name to attract them is a win-win for everyone.

Verdict: Well played Umbro. Very well played.

The leaked images imply the away kit will be all black, which necessitates a third kit. We’re hoping for classy all-white, but when both change kits are unveiled (and here’s hoping there’s no crappy leaks this time), we’ll let you know what we think. Now it’s your turn. Disagree with a our Umbro love-in or ready to jump on the double-diamond bandwagon? Give us your thoughts.

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2013/14 home kit – The HCK verdict

Like a burlesque performer, City have gotten us hot under the collar by performing a strip tease this week. On Monday they revealed the new home kit socks, on Tuesday we saw the shorts, and today we’ve feasted our eyes on the shirt. So now we’ve seen the lot, in all it’s shocking glory, what do we make of the 2013/14 home kit?

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A shirt with bold stripes and hooped socks, what is there not to love about this kit? Well, the sponsor for one, but y’know we’ve stated our objections to that deal oftentimes so I won’t re-tread old ground now, and at least it has been applied in the least ugly fashion and there is no appalling black patch across the chest.

The stripes are the perfect width in my view; it’s instantly recognisable as a Hull City shirt which is a great starting point. The contrast striped collar is an interesting look, I’d have preferred a cleaner collar design but I think it will grow on me. The amber yoke panel means the Drei Streifen don’t look messy on a striped shirt and should ensure a better fit across the shoulders.

I like plain amber sleeves on a striped shirt to brighten the overall look, the thick, oblique black sleeve stripes on this shirt create a big expanse of black, but when the Premier League patches are added to player shirts it will break that space up and will look just fine.

The City crest on this shirt is like on the away shirts, a bit smaller than what we’ve had on other City kits. Maybe the scroll banners on the bigger crests fall foul of the Premier League rules on crest size, though it didn’t seem an issue in 2008/09 and 2009/10. The smaller crest bunches up the detail on the tiger head and make it look a bit squinty eyed, which is a shame, though the crest being stitched on rather than heat bonded is a good thing.

The shorts are just fine, the truncated three stripes match how those on the shirts are broken to make room for a competition patch so there is design continuity. Then there is the socks, have I mentioned that I love the socks? I adore hooped socks, and like the adidas brand so I’ve been waxing lyrical about these since they were revealed on Monday. I collect matchworn City shirts, and as much as I’m looking forward to getting a player worn home shirt at some point, I’m more interested in getting some matchworn hooped socks, and yes I know that sounds weird.

Template kits are nothing new, and it’s a fact of life that unless you’re a Chelsea, Bayern or Real Madrid sized club, you’ll share a kit design with other clubs. West Brom use this design as an away kit, that doesn’t bother me at all, but if they use the same template for their home kit I’d be a bit miffed about that. Sunderland and Stoke, the other Premier League sides who wear stripes and have adidas as kit supplier use different templates for their home shirt so hopefully none of the stripy shirted adidas teams will share a template for a home shirt, though there are only so many stripy templates to go round. Brentford’s home shirt looks great from the front, it’s a really clean striped design, but the back is solid white, and I don’t like that, if their shirt was stripes front and back I’d have been happy to use the same shirt.

As for the shirt we’ve got, the positives far outweigh the negatives, and I like this kit a lot, especially those sexy hooped socks (I’ll have ten pairs please).

Credit to the club for building up interest with the teaser pics on social networking sites, that and the reveal using the adidas #all-in slogan has been pretty well done. Contrast our launch with that of the Sheffield Wednesday away kit, not only is the shirt trainingwear dross, but they didn’t have shorts and socks ready in time so had players in trackie pants looking like chavs scratting about outside an off licence.

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JGHull

Smart.

There’s really not a lot to dislike here – it’s what a City kit should be. Broad stripe, black shorts, hooped socks. I’m also really pleased we’ve gone with the template that has the striped back (no official shots of it yet but the WBA Away shirt uses the same template and that has a full striped back).

The collar treatment draws the eye a little and I’d have probably preferred a plain black trim to the collar rather than the black V but that’s nit picking.

City home shorts are hard to balls up but add in the hooped socks and it’s a smart looking, genuinely “City” City kit.

I’ve got to say it though haven’t I? The sponsor. Whilst the colouring of the sponsor allows the logo to fit into the kit better than in previous years, it’s still a low rent brand to be associated with. Shame really. The hunt is on to find an unsponsored one.

Overall, it’s been a bit of duff year for kit geeks with very little to get excited by. Everton have basically launched the same kit as last year and the England/Man City Umbro demise has led to lots of identikits, particularly for goalkeepers. Whilst it’s easy to long for the days before the blatantly obvious templating that we have now, it does feel a bit of an off year across the board.

It seems to be a year with lots of team wear that looks like trainingwear (I’m looking at you awful City away kit – but there are others) and we all know the actual trainingwear will be identikit too. It’s just a bit tedious this year.

Having said all of that, this home kit is a proper City kit. I’m a fan of kits which uniquely identify clubs and broad amber and black stripes, black shorts and hooped socks does exactly that for Hull City AFC, The Tigers…

The 2012/13 home kit : Some early thoughts

The 2012/13 adidas home kit was revealed at 6am this morning, and HCK’s JGHull and SombreEthyl forwent another hour in bed and battled eye-blear to offer their initial thoughts…

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I’m finding it hard to get overly excited by the new kit as it follows a template, the adidas Autheno 12 design.

I probably feel that way fundamentally because I’m a stripes man and this is a plain shirt, but also because this kit’s template exists on sportswear sites for Sunday League teams (such as here for example, thankfully it isn’t available in  amber and black) means it feels a bit less special somehow.

I’m pleased the sponsor is ‘cut out’ and whilst I wish we had a different sponsor,  it looks as good as it can do with the same ‘cut out’ applied to last year’s away shirt (eventually). The sponsors patch is bigger this year but the lack of patch means the new size probably won’t be noticed by most. The collar on the kit is a V which is better than any flappy collar or round neck but it might just be a bit too chunky. Whilst not as pronounced as the Liverpool kits of the mid 1990s (also made by adidas), it looks quite “fat”. Hopefully it’s one of those things that look better in the flesh.

The shorts don’t appear to be massively different although I suspect they are subtly somehow to ensure supporters want to update to the latest ones. I wonder if we’ve got any amber change shorts this time out?

One highlight for me is the amber socks – they simply look better than black! In saying that, I suspect with the away kit being black, we’ll match away socks with home shirt at some point in the season. I’m really looking forward to seeing the away kit.

Will I be buying one? I’ll not be at the front of the queue but suspect I’ll pick one up at some point – I’m a kit geek and *need* one – but at the moment, I’m not sure this shirt will ever be properly loved.


SombreEthyl

Typical, I bemoan us using the same template as Stoke two years in a row, then when we don’t, Stoke unveil a gorgeous design I’d be happy to see reproduced in amber and black.

I would have preferred stripes again but given that 6 out of the last 8 home shirts have been striped maybe it is time for plain shirt proponents to get their way this time.

When I first saw it I thought it looked like the Starfleet uniform Worf, Data and Geordi wore in Star Trek: The Next Generation. It’s a design I’m warming to though, even if I find the sponsor too unpalatable to wear myself. Maybe I could boil wash the sponsor wordmark off, it certainly looks easier to remove than the monstrous patch on last years home shirt and I’m thankful we’ve not made the same mistake twice.

I’m not as sniffy as some about templates because I think most kits have followed templates to some extent, Wolves and City wore pretty much the same kits in the late 50s, the 60s and 70s. Most adidas 80s kits we consider classics now were the same basic kits in different colours or with different team specific detail. France ’84? Ipswich just added a sponsor and a horse. Holland ’88? The Soviets wore the same shirt in red and later West Germany wore a green version, template use is far from a modern phenomenon. I don’t like City consecutively using the same template as another side but does it bother me that Middlesbrough use this design for their away kit? Not in the slightest.

The announcement that a fan who takes a photo of themselves wearing the new shirt will get a squad number made me roll my eyes. A few years ago Bryan Hughes had his wages doubled but was told months later he’d not even get a squad number, now you can get one by spending £45 and posing for a picture, squad numbers have lost their cachet it seems. It perplexes me that the club don’t use adidas to organise launches more than they do.

Sponsor aside, this is a decent enough kit. I like the use of amber socks to brighten up the overall kit, they had to be really since the away kit is going to be all black and presumably there will be amber alternate shorts again that will be interchangeable with both home and away shirts. For the last two years adidas have done a better job with the away kit than the home and I think that will prove true for a third time when we see the change kit, but this home kit is alright, and I think it’ll grow on me.

City kits feature in Backpass magazine

Retro football magazine Backpass takes a look at six Tigers kits from the past in their latest issue. Illustrated by John Devlin of the excellent True Colours books and blog, the classic kits section examines a selection of kits from the 60s to late 80s including the positively AC Milan-esque 1972 third kit featured on HCK last month.

John Devlin’s illustrations also appear on sportwear firm Admiral‘s site as they poll readers to determine the finest Admiral kit of all time. The 1986-88 City home kit is one of the 80s designs featured.

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.