Looking good or bad dress sense? Kit Obsessive: Brentford v Sheffield Wednesday

26 Aug

Following on from today’s other new , regular feature (The Last Word on….) part of the big match build up to every Brentford home game now includes a revisit to the Kit Obsessive feature. With Sheffield Wednesday being Saturday’s visitors to Griffin Park, it’s another chance to wallow in kit heaven and kit hell.

Originally formed in 1867 as the Wednesday Cricket & Football Club, it wasn’t until 1929 that the team we now know as Sheffield Wednesday were officially recognised by that name. The intervening 62 year period had given them plenty of time to develop their famous strip of alternating blue and white stripes to the point that, sponsorship aside, it remains pretty much ‘as was’ to this very day.

But then, like Brentford, how much can you do with a design that simple yet that effective? Quite a lot, actually.

Along with some interesting variants including the occasional flirtation with Loftus Road style hoops (last seen in 1945-46), the club have gone ‘all blue (albeit white sleeved), thick, thin and even adopted the dreaded pin-stripe style that graced our own ‘Funky Bee’ kit at the back end of the ‘80s.

Sheff Wed PIC 1Added to this, though, is probably one of the most recognisable club badges the world over. Their stenciled  ‘owl’ motif first appeared in 1973 and, aside from a brief rebrand from ‘95-’99 has been in place right up until this season’s (presumably short term) rebrand.

For me, this is an integral a part of the club shirt as their primary colours and, as such, plays a role in our selection of the Fantastic Four that go on to make up: The best; The worst; The away; The unfortunate design/Retro Classic

The best: Umbro 1990-91 From1987-89 Wednesday succumbed to one of the many football fashion crimes of the late 80s – thin stripes. Very thin stripes. More white than blue, the shirt puts one in mind of our own from that era (the one that looked pink from a distance of anything over ten yards away.

Sheff Wed PIC 2

Then Umbro redeemed themselves with a kit that, some additional branding and change in sponsor aside, didn’t change from 1989-1993. And, frankly, why would it need to? With thick blue and white stripes, and the only additional colour being to highlight the club badge and technical sponsor, the floppy collar helps add a real ‘old school’ look to this most classic of designs.

However, for that most quintessential of the bunch I’m opting for the version worn in the 1991 Rumbelows (league) Cup final.  A 1-0 triumph over Manchester United (who doesn’t like to see that?) for the then second division side was achieved the same year they managed promotion to the top flight.

And, dare I say it, an example where the dark lettering on the sponsor actually gives a little balance to the vast, empty spaces we’d all taken for granted in the years prior to corporate involvement in football.

Sheff Wed PIC 3

The Worst: Puma 1995-96 With all apologies to any Wednesday fans reading, this is everything wrong with a football shirt. I had considered picking the aforementioned 87-89 but was then reminded of this.

Gone is the famous owl, to be replaced by a mess of a badge. It includes a ‘retro’ 60’s style owl, along with a shield, stripes, the club name three times (twice as SWFC), a reminder they play at Hillsborough and even a Yorkshire rose.

But just incase you weren’t sure who the club were, there is an additional SWFC badge on the opposite side to the shield. And that’s not all.

Printed directly into the middle of the shirt itself is yet another SWFC, in grey. This one is so large it is part obscured by the sponsor and central stripe so looks more as though somebody has just sneezed on it. I won’t even start on the bizarre combination of thick and thin stripes that leave a mostly white feel to this shirt.

SHEFF WED PIC 4

The away: Umbro 1987-88 Whilst that season’s home shirt may have been a car crash, the away version was a triumph. I’ve got a soft spot for silver kits after our own Community Sports Trust version saw us go unbeaten in the colour but this one knocks it out of the park.

A shimmering silver effort from Umbro saw the traditional owl in place – always a good start. But what really sets this apart is that the whole thing is then set off with diagonal lilac and white pin stripes. Sponsored by Finlux (European TV magnates, apparently) on paper this really shouldn’t work but in the flesh it is a thing of beauty.

SHEFF WED PIC 5

The Retro Classic – Bukta 1977-81 I’m not going to lie – I’ve cheated a bit here. This shirt is a retro classic and deserving of a place in any hall of fame. Nothing more pretentious to it than the traditional stripes, Bukta branding and an early incarnation of the now standard badge.

But the defining reason for selection sees it as the one that most Brentford fans will associate with Andy McCulloch, who joined the Hillsborough club after initially being tapped up by Ian St. John whilst departing Griffin Park on a stretcher. As Andy himself noted, “The two clubs I loved playing for were Sheffield Wednesday and Brentford“.

Andy McCulloch

That iconic image of Andy

Nick Bruzon

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