Tag Archives: umbro

Umbro take Brentford Back To The Future with new shirt launch.

14 Jun

Dear Ryan Murrant. Could I be the first to say how much the new Brentford home shirt sucks. Except, of course, I can’t. Not even to try and get a freebie. The club officially revealed the 2019/20 Umbro kit today and, it has to be said, we’ve picked an absolute stunner for our final season at Griffin Park. The spirit of Osca 1984-85 very much reborn as Kitman Bob’s earlier promise of ‘New vibes and old skool’ has been borne out in some style.

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I love it. Seriously love it. It would be no exaggeration to say this is probably our finest choice for a ‘home’ kit since the early nineties. It is about as retro as we could hope to get yet at the same time Umbro have given us something bang up to date with their first stab at a Brentford shirt. Clean lines, bold colours and instantly recognizable as ‘Brentford’.

#WeAreBrentford, indeed.

What a way to say goodbye to Adidas after a ‘partnership’ that promised much but, if we’re being honest, ultimately felt a bit flat – the yellow ‘away’ from our first Championship season and the magnificent brown and orange being obvious exceptions. The open goal of producing an ’80-’81 remake being one that the German giants very much missed. In contrast, Umbro have made no mistake when they’ve been given the opportunity to take a spin in the metaphorical Tardis with Doctor Bob.

Squint at this one and you may aswell stick on a Dire Straits LP, pop out to the cinema for Back To The Future or A View To A Kill and then lose at Wembley. It feels as close to 1985 as you can get beyond being there.

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The pictures are all over the internet. And the club. And the club shop. Taking a stroll up Braemar Road on the school run this afternoon one couldn’t help but be drawn to the huge posters that are now in place showing this one off to the world.

The black v neck collar and sleeve trim. The thick red and white stripes. The new (non-gambling) sponsor. The famous Umbro double-diamond. Our club crest that is definitely a Bee. Definitely.  The detail on the back of the neck, proclaiming it to be our farewell to Griffin Park. Looking in the club shop, this is already iconography that seems sure to be repeated as the campaign reaches an emotional denouement.

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Plenty of posters as well as screen shots

Downsides? Are there any? Well, we don’t have full stripes on the reverse. That’s a shame. Whilst the players will get past this with their names and numbers, for us mortals on the terrace it does present a brief flashback to the Puma teabag. Or, you could argue, the Osca 83/84 on the reverse…. Yeah. That’ll do. This is just too nice to have bad thoughts about.

Even more intriguing has been the reaction from Kitman Bob on Twitter, Can we read into this that there is even bigger and better to come with is proclamation “Sad to see 🍊 & 🍫 go 😁. But this is nice and can’t wait for the reveal of what’s to follow”

In the short term, get yourself down to Griffin Park if you are in the area. That walk this afternoon gave a further glimpse of the future. The posters all over the turnstiles and the club shop show more of how we are going to look in a few months’ time. And if you tweet a picture with the aforementioned hashtag, there’s a chance to win some Umbro ’merch’(andise).

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Posters and old skool vibes are the order of the day at Griffin Park

For now, though, what are your thoughts? Good, bad, brilliant, boring? My colours are nailed to the mast. What about yours?

Nick Bruzon

 

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Oh my word. We’ve only gone and done it. This is fantastic.

8 May

Amazing. Incredible. Unbelievable. We have witnessed history in the making. It would be no exaggeration to describe this moment as epochal. As Sir Alex Fergie ‘Ferguson’ said when Manchester United won the 1999 Champions League final in those most dramatic of circumstances, “Football, bloody hell.” Yet that’s how things feel this morning…. Brentford have only gone and done it. We’ve named Umbro as our new technical sponsor. This is magnificent. One has to feel for Liverpool supporters whom, having enjoyed their own moment against Barcelona last night, now find themselves sliding down football’s pecking order of intrigue. Albeit we will get there in a moment but, of course, can only start with this morning’s breaking story from Griffin Park (and we don’t mean the rumoured appointment of Mark Warburton at QPR).

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My inner kit-nerd is cock-a-hoop at the news Brentford have appointed Umbro next season. Names don’t get any more iconic than theirs with the manufacturer, who celebrate their 95th birthday this month, producing some bona-fide classics over the years. What this means for The Bees, at least in terms of design, we have no idea from the short video which has been released this morning. Kitman Bob’s clues have hinted at a possible three shirts this season, with the away colours being one of brown, black/yellow or gold/white. Then again, he could have been throwing out Matthew Benham style clues and so we’ll have to wait until the big reveal – hopefully next month – to see the full reveal.

That said, sniffing around the internet at some of the templates / designs already announced for next season, I am excited. The Gremio (Brazil) ‘away’ in our home colours would be incredible. I’m not normally a fan of collars but have to admit this is a wonderful design. Moreso if black trim were to be incorporated. Looking at the Bournemouth shirt, the great news in their Umbro design being the addition of stripes to the reverse. Something sure to appease traditionalists saddened by the wholesale decision from Adidas to pull those from their entire range last time out.

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Umbro’s designs for 2019 offer excitement

The Gremio effort has had my, somewhat shonky, creative juices flowing. A rapid play around with photoshop to see what their design would look like in our colours produced some interesting results. Specifically for those who have been here slightly longer as it produces a potential kit very much reminiscent of our 2000-02 effort. Could this be what Bob meant by “New vibes and old skool” ? Or are we miles off the pace?

With apologies in advance for the poor quality, this is what comes around after a bit of mouse play and tweaking of the colours. Adding LeoVegas a step too far at this short notice, but you get the general idea. I hope. Whether this is anywhere near the mark remains to be seen, of course. I have no inside knowledge whatsoever on this one and so it is pure guesswork. Yet…you have to start somewhere on the speculation. So why not here?  

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Could this be it? Sponsor aside. Gremio become Brentford

Next up, Liverpool. Even the most curmudgeonly amongst us has to admit that was quite exciting last night. Turning around a 3-0 deficit whilst shorn of some world class talent was nothing short of spectacular. Barcelona very much second to everything and playing the stereotypical hare to the Anfield tortoise.

That said, sometimes even tortoises can come out with smiles on their faces and this game  was very much the quintessential example. One can only be thankful it was on BT Sport so we were spared the sights and sounds of Jamie Carragher’s verbal ejaculation of his team’s performance.

However incredible the victory was, it did raise a few questions. Has this out-miracled the Miracle of Istanbul? Have Liverpool shot their bolt early, leaving Ajax to clean up in the final? Do we need to update our Anfield bingo cards to factor in the Barcelona game and, if so, what specific squares should be added?  

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Updates now needed. But which?

Say what you want about last night, exciting though it was (and it was), this still came second to possibly the greatest comeback of all time. Brentford at Burton Albion back in 2017. 3-1 down after the half became 5-3 to The Bees just 45 minutes later. We didn’t need 90 minutes to pull this one out the fire.

Barcelona are good, sure, but Burton Albion on a cold afternoon is another challenge altogether.  And I bet you Divock Origi didn’t get the train home with supporters like Sergi Canos did afterwards.     

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Sergi gets the train home after THE comeback

Next up, Mark Warburton. It looks like things are happening at the other end of the 237 bus route. Word on the street being that he has already been appointed and it is merely a case of waiting for the ink to dry before he is officially named as the new manager of… QPR.

Oh my word. Are you serious? If this is the case, then firstly I’ll offer him good luck on taking over at the definition of a crisis club. No money. No players. Any talent they do have is sure to leave over the summer. Closer to home though, there’s the small matter of his history at Griffin Park. Martin Rowlands has become infamous for what he did whilst Jake Bidwell has become something of a joke figure. As much for being skinned alive time and again as the awful #JakeJoins Twitter campaign when he signed.

We all know what Warbs did. For that, every Brentford fan is eternally grateful. His return with Nottingham Forest (fashion choice aside, where he ended up looking like an extra from TV’s The Brittas Empire) was a cordial and respectful one. Should the news be confirmed today, I’d expect next time around to be very different indeed.

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Mark Warburton – won at football but lost at fashion.

And I can’t wait….

Finally, Brentford released the names of those players who will not be offered a new contract when their current deals expire at the end of June. The news about Yoann Barbet, no matter how sad for the fans, was expected after being confirmed by both Thomas Frank and the player himself. Likewise, we say goodbye to Jack Bonham, Lewis Macleod and Josh McEachran. These were hardly unexpected yet the one real surprise was the decision not to take up the option on Moses Odubajo.  Fans seemed genuinely shocked at this and moreso given some of his performances since rejoining the club last season.

Yet the presence of Henrik Dalsgaard, (theoretically) Josh Clarke and the burgeoning relationship between Sergi Canos in the wing back role mean this was , perhaps, inevitable. No matter how much of a shock on the surface. Let’s not forget, either, that the door can swing both ways. On a personal note I’m sad to see Moses and Yoann leave. No question. Yet, as was noted yesterday, the moment to start really trusting our Directors of Football happened a long time ago. No matter how strange some decision may seem up front, wider long-term context is what this club is all about. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are more to follow but I’d also bet my life on new faces turning up over the summer.

If nothing else, Mr. Benham has started dropping clues again….

Nick Bruzon

Are we going for gold? Black, yellow or brown? Kitman Bob drops huge clue in Twitter strip tease.

3 May

And then things started to happen. The EFL have named the date on which the game between Bolton and Brentford will be played. Supposedly. This Tuesday, the same evening that our B team host Manchester City and so there goes the chance to play the kids as had been widely touted. Elsewhere, social media proved king once more as Kitman Bob started answering fan questions about next season’s kit, dropping some pretty big clues in the process.

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Has Bob started pointing the way to 2019/20?

First up, Bolton. The game is supposedly going to happen this Tuesday in the deadzone between the season ending and the play-offs starting. It clashes with our own fixture at home to Manchester City B – always a big draw – whilst also means casual fans will now find themselves further torn as any hopes for a clear run to see Barcelona complete their Champions League rout against Liverpool now have some serious competition. Messi or Maupay ? Sergi or Suarez? I know, I know.

Except, of course, I still can’t see how the game will go ahead. The EFL ‘demanding’ it is one thing but even their own statement notes that, “The Board also discussed the potential of Bolton Wanderers being placed into Administration and took the view if that was to happen, the EFL would not insist the game be played.” They go on to add that “we would advise all supporters to wait until the details for the game are confirmed by the Club before making any travel arrangements”. Meanwhile Brentford official have also advised that they “Will continue to update fans on all issues surrounding this game as often as possible in the coming days.

So clear as mud, then. The game will take place this Tuesday (it is now Friday). Except the advice from the EFL is that it might not and supporters shouldn’t make any arrangements as yet. A situation more farcical given there’s no train home after the game finishes (unless you want to hang around until 1am for the bus to Manchester and the 5 o’clock service to London) . Virgin rail and hotels are expensive enough as it is, let alone when you have to book at a moment’s notice.

Would this even allow the club time to lay on supporters’ coaches?  Would health and safety / policing allow for a game to be set up at short notice? More so one which may not even happen. What about the players who should now be on well -earned breaks? There will be more to follow, no doubt, including what I still expect to be an award of three points to Brentford.

On to matters more appealing, Twitter was awash with talk of next season’s kit yesterday. Something further compounded by EFL Championship supporter of the year, 98 year old Audrey Baker, gifting our Junior Bees an embroidered gold scarf in her role as patron of the Junior membership schemes. It is a most generous and timely present, moreso given our own recent recognition as a gold standard family club. These are smart as and I’m seriously tempted to get the ‘Jimmmy Krankie’ costume from out of the special cupboard in order to try and blag one of the white and gold beauties on Sunday.

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What a gesture for our young fans

Yet as well as being a wonderful gift, it got fans wondering if this was a hint as to next season’s away colour scheme. Moreso when Kitman Bob started doing what he only he can do – going rogue on Twitter (in the nicest possible sense).

He had already told us that our 2019/20 effort would promise “New vibes and old skool” (although was that home, away or both?) whilst the release date could be imminent given, “I think there is an agreement to announce it a few days after the Preston game. “

Then Audrey did the scarf thing and that was it. Bob did what only he, Brentford and Matthew Benham can get away with – chucking out clues into cyberspace and even offering fans a choice of an easy, medium or hard one. Name me any other club or kitman that does this? I love it. Moreso, when the tease offered up to supporters seemed, at first glance, eminently gettable. Or should that be Eminemly gettable? :

Let’s start with a easy-clue then. Famous US Rapper had a massive hit with this.😁😁😁

Get in. I’ve solved this one already. Quite possibly. The clue in the scarf is there already. It has to be Kanye West – Gold Digger. Surely?

Or does it? Bob appeared to pour cold water on that speculation.  “White gold. Kitmans nightmare !  Gold is nice though 😀” . A double bluff or something that is being ruled out purely on cleanliness grounds?

Moving on, Wiz Khalifa – Black and Yellow – seemed the popular consensus. It makes sense for so many reasons and has always been popular. Who could forget the Bathroom shopfront  launch of our 2011-12 beauty whilst I’m still a sucker for the version worn on the road in our first Championship campaign after promotion.

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We’ve got good form here .

Then it hit me. People have missed the obvious one. Hidden in plain sight. We all love the Jaffa Cake kit. All of us. How about more of the same? It’s so obvious when you think about it. DJ Khaled – Brown paper Bag. YESSS!!!! Another season of the brown / orange or similar. It was a fact fact further, definitely compounded by Bob’s subsequent musing “Why has everyone gone for Wiz 🤔🤔🤔”   .

So there you have it. We’re going brown again. Definitely brown.  Not gold and white or black and yellow.

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Too obvious? Or will it be Wiz?

Yet there was more intrigue thrown out there with the other clue offered out by Bob. Namely that, “There maybe  more than one away kit …..” .

Three kits? Does this mean that, in the final season in our current home, Brentford could be going for something special from the historical locker? We did this before in 2004/05 with the away kit commemorating 100 years at Griffin Park. Perhaps something similar is in the offing? Once can only hope that is the case.

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Something historic this way comes?

Whilst we’re all making educated guesses, ultimately nobody knows for sure. The technical sponsor is still not public knowledge although the kit nerd in me is desperate for Umbro, would love the nostalgia of Hummel and can see the unique situation of personalised shirts that would come with New Balance and their NB logo . No doubt it’ll end up being somebody like Macron, whose latest Stoke City effort is about as safe as they come – with some very unusual collars….

The only way to know for sure will be when the club top brass allow Bob to get his kits out. Come on Mr. Benham. Please, put us out of our misery.

Nick Bruzon

Of course the football is interesting but what about the other matter…?

10 Apr

Sure, Liverpool and Spurs may have both recorded Champions League victories last night (Porto and Man City respectively) . There’s the potentially intriguing visit of Barcelona to Old Trafford where Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team will continue their post-Mourinho resurgence. Manchester United playing with the shackles off once more  – (c) the entire internet. So whilst one could be forgiven for thinking that this week may have been all about the Champions’ League, those focussing on Europe have missed what is, without a doubt, the BIG one. A clash between two of football’s top clubs with a prize bigger than silverware at stake – namely, Championship survival. Forget the UCL, Wednesday evening sees Brentford play host to Ipswich Town.

This is the game that has it all. There’s the return of Alan Judge to Griffin Park. The chance for Thomas Frank and his own boys to get back to winning ways. Biggest of all, Ipswich Town will be relegated should Brentford record the win and the three teams sitting directly above the relegation trapdoor (Reading, Millwall and Wigan) all pick up three points themselves. Even if not tonight, surely it will only be a matter of time before the Tractor Boys find themselves ploughing a lone furrow into League One.    

What else is thee to say about this one? Not much, really. For Brentford, top ten is about as much as we can hope for now. A disappointing run of recent results following that magnificent surge which began just prior to Christmas have seen the slim dream of the play-offs evaporate. Yet by the same virtue, Saturday’s game against Derby County saw us at our attacking best (and defensive worst). No doubt Thomas will be hoping to pick up where we left off in a game that saw us somewhat unfortunate not to end it with all three points whilst the visitors can count heir own blessing that they ended it with all eleven players.

Top ten for a fifth successive season would still be a wonderful achievement. We have a team with an attacking set up to die for. Indeed, it has been the form on the road  – which could be described as patchy at best – that has been our achilles heel this time around. Even yours truly has finally consigned the brown/orange colours to the draw for retired kit. Magnificent though it sill is, even I can tell when the battle is over. Here’s hoping for more change next season.

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All good things come to an end

If nothing else, there’s the mystery of who takes over as kit supplier with our Adidas deal finally set to expire. I’ve heard everybody from Hummel, Puma, Nike, Umbro, New Balance and beyond chucked into the mix. For now, nobody outside the club inner circle knows who it will be and nobody is revealing. Although if Mr. Benham or Kitman Bob are reading (unlikely, let’s be honest) and would like to share the news early then that would be welcomed by all. 

Then again, with Mark Devlin now plying his trade at Dundalk it poses a further question. And not the one of whether chief executives would even ply their trade or if another phrase should be used? With a new team at the top, could this spell an end to the late-summer drip release of the new kit via the chief executive’s proverbial strip tease? We’re normally well behind the other clubs in the annual beauty pageant as the guessing games go on well into the close/closed season. If Jon Varney is reading (unlikely, let’s be honest) then how about bucking the trend? How about going early? How about starting his tenure with about as big a mission statement as one could ask a chief-executive to make?

Come on Jon, get your kits out! 

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Could anything top the 2011 away shirt launch in a bathroom shop window?

Nick Bruzon

Looking good or bad dress sense? Kit Obsessive: Brentford v Preston North End

16 Sep

It only seems like five minutes since we were playing Aston Villa yet barely have the side got back to the pub (I’m sorry, but I’m still laughing about that ) we’ve got another game on top of us. This time Preston North End are the visitors to Griffin Park as Brentford go looking for a win that would, potentially, propel the Bees into the play off zone.

And, as ever, part of the build up to a home game includes a revisit to the Kit Obsessive feature. With Preston at Griffin Park tomorrow, it’s another chance to wallow in kit heaven and kit hell.

If Brentford have had trouble, on the surface, in finding variations on red and white stripes then one has to feel for the back room staff at Preston North End. In a problem similar to that faced by the national side, how do you improve on perfection – kitwise, at least?

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A familiar look

Save for a couple of tweaks in the five years prior to their becoming founder members of the football league back in 1888 (including rather familiar red and white stripes the previous season c/o the ever wonderful HFK website) their shirt remained plain white up until the mid-seventies. Sure, there were some cosmetic differs on the badge and a few collars along the way, but things remained pretty much ‘as they were’ for the best part of a century.

But then we entered the era of brand names, of sponsors and of colour. All of a sudden variants began to appear and Preston haven’t looked back since. To be fair, they have done well to keep an eye on the origins that have also seen them based at the same field in Deepdale that has been their home since 1875 (and which first saw football in 1878).

However, the last forty years have provided plenty to supplement what has been one of THE classic football shirts. As we delve into the historical kitbag, our four categories, which are all based purely on my own personal opinion, remain: The best; The worst; The away; The unfortunate design/Retro Classic

The Best:  Home 1949-58 Whilst Umbro were the first ‘technical’ sponsor to display their brand on the shirt, Adidas dominated a period from late seventies to mid eighties that saw some intriguing efforts. I’ve always had a soft spot for the German giants (indeed, for many Brentford fans our own 1980/81 home shirt is the stuff of folklore/fantasy – delete as applicable).  That said my own take is that, if anything, these are a bit over cluttered. Free from the shackles of ‘all white’, the club allowed advertising and double badges to run riot.

Instead, we’ll keep it simple and recognise one of Preston’s greatest players in their greatest kit. The image of Sir Tom Finney in the plain white collared shirt is an absolutely iconic one in footballing terms. With the famous PP (Princeps Pacis) badge still retained, almost identically, today it is a fine shirt to boot and one that reeks of class and tradition.

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The worst: Matchwinner 1992-93   Just as the likes of Reading discovered, sponsorship from a company in the painting & decorating industry does not guarantee a shirt as stylish as the product it is endorsing.

And just as Reading’s Matchwinner efforts were more likely to induce a migraine than promote the likes of their ‘Hat Painting’, Preston face a similar scenario.

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Matchwinner have bad form here

With both Matchwinner and wallpaper magnates ‘Coloroll’ in the bag, surely they couldn’t make the same mistakes as the Royals. Alas not. The 1992-93 home shirt is wrong on just about every level. The only saving grace is the club badge remains intact. Otherwise, where do you start?

Well, the shirt IS white. Kind of. Unfortunately, the effect is ruined by two areas of dark blue and yellow  wavy, diagonal lines. The predominate patch drifts across the shoulders down to the middle left, but is then also repeated below the sponsor. The whole effect is further marred by a subtle (relative to the rest of the kit) interlocking diamond motif woven through the entire shirt.

It’s almost as though somebody has looked at the infamous Hull City ‘tiger stripe’ shirt (also Matchwinner), produced an ‘away’ version, but then just rolled it out to North End instead.

 

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The away. Matchwinner 1993-94 Matchwinner’s previous ’away’ effort was a marginally more discreet version of their 92-93 ‘home’, done out in yellow and black. So I’m going for the next one they produced for Preston, also sponsored by Coloroll.

Anybody with a copy of the programme from the Oxford United cup ‘game’ may recall my mention of the fuzzy fractals and soft focus geometric oddities that seemed the fashion at the time. And nowhere more so than at Matchwinner HQ where they produced what was described as the result of “being short sighted then losing your glasses whilst looking at a deck chair. On acid.“

It was an audaciously brave attempt and one they also bequeathed to Preston North End. A shirt so glaring it’s actually brilliant. A true classic.

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The unfortunate design.  Footy 1994/95. Let’s be clear – I DO actually love the vast majority of Matchwinner efforts and their regular appearance in these pages should be seen as a complement. They have been innovative in terms of design and colour scheme – sometimes successfully yet at others, not so. However, as their star began to fade (for reasons unknown) their legacy lived on as they weren’t alone in push the boundaries.

With with ‘Footy’ picking up the baton, that tradition continued. A blue stripe to the right of the club badge saw Coloroll’s ongoing sponsorship laid out in a vertical format rather than the traditional horizontal. All well and good except the lettering was also flipped over, rendering it somewhat impossible to read without suffering some form of neck injury.

A brave effort but one that has been rarely repeated since at any English club as vertical sponsors died along with Coloroll’s contract.

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Loanee David Beckham the second most impressive thing in this picture

Nick Bruzon

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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“.

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That iconic image of Andy

Nick Bruzon

Looking good or bad dress sense? Kit Obsessive is back

16 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 Nottingham Forest being this evening’s visitors to Griffin Park, it’s another chance to wallow in kit heaven and kit hell.

The name Nottingham Forest is one that conjures up all sorts of wonderful footballing imagery and memories. Back to back European Cup triumphs. Brian Clough. Stuart Pearce and Des Walker. And, of course, that, famous badge.

Much like Sheffield Wednesday’s iconic outline ‘owl’, Forest have opted for a similar style crest. Equally, it has one that has been left pretty much untouched since it first saw the light of day in March 1974. Then again, why would you need to change? The name Forest, sitting below the outline of a Sherwood tree emerging from the River Trent, is one recognised the footballing world over.

And if the badge has remained untouched over the years, much can be said of Forest’s colours. Their red shirts (with the odd bit of white trim) and white shorts are a template that has had little alteration to this very day.

Despite these apparent constraints, there has still been plenty of room for manouevre in our four categories: The best; The worst; The away; The unfortunate design/Retro Classic.

The best: Adidas 1984-86 home.  From the mid seventies to the late eighties, the Forest locker room was dominated by Umbro and Adidas. Pretty much any shirt from this period could have made it into a category that has caused me the biggest challenge of the season.

It was a period that saw the first use of the now famous new badge and the European Cup triumphs over Malmo and Hamburg in a simple but now legendary Adidas top. Even the addition of pinstripes (81-84) or subtle chequerboard effect (86-88) were both contributions that gave a positive twist to this most simple of colour schemes. Truly, it was golden era for Forest on the pitch and off the peg.

However, the winner is one which may cause controversy, simply because it isn’t associated with a trophy or a tilt at the league title. But it is one that sticks in my own mind’s eye, almost thirty years later, as the one worn by Johnny Metgod when he scored THAT free kick v West Ham (even now, the strike, and the celebration, deserve a look YouTube).

It combines the classic red and white trim with a central badge (always popular) and an Adidas logo on each arm, giving a slightly less cluttered feel in an era that had just started to see sponsorship become the norm. People may not drink Skol these days (outside of Brazil where, apparently, it is their most popular beer brand) but even non-Forest fans like myself won’t forget it.

Best Adidas 84-86-2

The Worst: Umbro 1996-98. If Forest were football, and fashion, kings during the 80s, the following decade saw them in some serious trouble. For a team whose shirt had only ever been red, albeit with a hint of red, what came next was just bonkers.

The brilliance of Umbro’s 1992-94 effort (more, later) was instantly followed by four years of sartorial pain. The successor to that one saw the addition of black collars along with a broad, vertical stripe in the same colour that stretched from each shoulder then stopped, abruptly, half way down.

It was a motif that, whilst totally at odds with Forest’s natural colour scheme, was then given a twist from 1996-1998 for what is, in my opinion, their worst ever shirt. This time, the black stripe starts in the middle, but gets progressively fainter until it ends at the sponsor. As though somebody had used the shirt to wipe off a paintbrush after creosoting a fence. The same design was repeated down the sleeves.

The famous club badge, meanwhile, is overcomplicated by being styled red and then sat inside a large white oval. The only positive? Black has never again been used since.

Worst Umbro 96-98-2

The away: Umbro 1996-97. What on earth happened at Umbro following Euro ’96? Whilst, normally, this category highlights a killer kit, I’m selecting one that, given the horror of the home shirt, needs further review to wonder how on earth they also mangled the ‘away’.

There’s nothing wrong with yellow and blue as a scheme. It is one Forest have used many times and, especially in the early 80s, looked incredible. Sadly, this doesn’t. If the home version looked as though somebody had run a paintbrush down the front, the away has had the whole can chucked at it.

Closer inspection actually reveals this as two graffiti style reinterpretations of that famous badge. A clumsy attempt to ‘get down with da kidz’ or something that had been put together by a four year old armed with a blue crayon?

AWAY-2

The retro classic: Umbro 1992-94. Now this is a thing of beauty. Umbro’s vintage stylings have already won the best ever Ipswich shirt and this one came awfully close for Forest.

In the end, I’ve opted for it being their retro classic  – the quintessential example of simplicity and style as the club looked to revisit the 1930s. Floppy collars, button up neck, decent use of white as the offset pinstripe colour and, for once, a surround that enhances the club badge. It wasn’t until 2010 that the club could even come close to the heights achieved here.

Screen Shot 2016-08-16 at 07.01.15

Nick Bruzon

Kit Obsessive : Ipswich Town

12 Aug

Ipswich Town are the visitors to Griffin Park on Saturday with Brentford looking to get their first points, and win, on the board for 2016/17. Whilst you’ll find the usual match previews kicking around elsewhere, in addition we’re taking a different approach this season. Following on from yesterday’s new, regular feature about our forthcoming visitors The Last Word on… it’s time for another new, regular feature. New, that is, to these pages.

Kit obsessive is back. Originally submitted to last season’s match day programme, a third season in the Championship means that with the exception of 6 new teams it is ground previously covered – at least for those who buy that publication. So whilst I gather that articles on the likes of Aston Villa, Barnsley et al will still appear in that format this time around, repeating the feature would not reveal anything new.

That said, for those who missed out on the programme then I have been asked by at least one Last Word reader  if it would be possible to re-run them this year. And by ‘at least one‘ I mean, ‘actually one‘. But why not?

As a self confessed kit-obsessive, I have what some would probably term an unhealthy fascination with team colours. Of course Brentford are at the forefront of this interest as the club has, over the years, made some pretty decent stabs at changing the red and white stripes around. However, with a few odd exceptions we follow a fairly similar template.

The same cannot always be said for our opponents, though. Using no more scientific criteria than personal taste, this feature sees us delving into the historical kit bag to select the best, the worst, a sublime away and an unfortunate design/retro classic worn by our opponents through the ages. So without further ado, here’s Kit Obsessive: Ipswich Town.

Since their inception for the start of the 1888 season Ipswich Town had, like the Bees, largely worn stripes – albeit blue and white. However, unlike the Bees they ditched these in 1936, switching to predominantly blue offset with white trim and (until the mid ‘60s) white sleeves.

But with over 125 years of history to choose from, which have made the hall of fame and which should be left to rot in the chamber of horrors?

The best: Umbro 1992-94. In my opinion, Ipswich have had some real stunners to chose from over the years. The Adidas designs from 1977 to 1989, synonymous with FA Cup triumph and the UEFA Cup victory, all reek of quality. That said, I’m genuinely in two minds about the red chest stripe that accompanied the 1985-86 effort.

Ipswich pic 1An innovative break from tradition or a sickening abomination that shattered the otherwise unsullied blue with all the subtly of an oil tanker? The only people definitely smiling about it being the club sponsors, Radio Orwell – think Alan Partridge had he opted for Suffolk rather than East Anglia and neighbours, Norwich.

But my winner in this category comes from that phase in the early 90s when retro was the new cool. Specifically 1992-94. Clubs opted for big badges, old style shirts, pin stripes and even lace up collars.

Umbro were leaders in this trend and nowhere better than at Portman Road. Whilst Manchester United, Aston Villa and even Oldham Athletic made decent stabs at this look, none came close to Ipswich Town who married the perfect mix of blue, red trim and a return for the white sleeves with some old school chic.

Embed from Getty Images

 

The Worst: Punch 2005-07 .Ipswich Town have, to be fair, largely bypassed this category – certainly compared to some of our divisional rivals. However, even the Tractor Boys aren’t exempt when it comes to those that should probably be forgotten about.

Mitre’s effort from 2007-09 is a clumsy attempt at the vintage style carried off so effortlessly by Umbro. Looking somewhat generic, it’s less old school, more primary school whilst not even John Wark can save the Core 1995-96 away shirt – bottle green and burgundy – which puts one in mind of a poor man’s Portugal.

But the winner comes down to a choice between two and, as I’m saving one for the ‘unfortunate design’ category, it has to go to Punch 2005-07. This opts for blue with white, but the latter colour to an extent that looks as though a drunken groundsman has ‘gone rogue’ with the pitch markings when painting the touchline.

It has an expanding sash that starts on the shoulder and grows out, all the way to the waist. This is less subtle trim and more something that looks like a prototype costume for one of the Thunderbirds pilots.

Worse, the design continues onto the shorts where there is even an equivalent blue swoosh. Truly, one that should be consigned to the waste bin of history.

Ipswich PIC 4

The away: Adidas 1986-89 Where to go with this, given Ipswich have had as many top quality away shirts as they have had home?

In the end though, it was a toss up on the mid to late 80s. Whilst the Radio Orwell Adidas effort may have split opinion when it came to the home effort, there’s no question the bold red stripe only enhances things against the white of the away kit.

But I’ve elected for the successor to that one, another Adidas production, as the most stylish Ipswich Town away kit. The winner is the Fisons sponsored 1986-89 (yes, teams wore the same shirt for more than one season back then).

Bedecked in the inverse club colours of all white, with blue trim, this also featured a subtle diagonal two-tone strip effect. Simple but stunning.

Ipswich PIC 5

The unfortunate design: Core 1995-97 Just as the faux Thunderbirds sash was a close contender, the winner here could as easily been triumphant in the worst shirt category. And, again, we also need to take a sideways glance at the world of TV Sci-Fi.

You have to feel for Core. They actually produced a fairly decent set of kits for Brentford in the mid90s but, alas, at Portman Road things were somewhat different.

We’ve already mentioned their away version from 95-96 but the home from that (and the following) season is even worse. The top half starts decently enough with a traditional deep blue but as we make our way down the shirt, things take a turn for the peculiar.

The blue starts to merge into white, gradually replacing the primary colour until by the final third we are all white. It is a design gimic that even continues onto the arms.

At best it looks like the players have been caught in a snow drift; at worst, as though they have just given the order to “Beam me up, Scotty”, Star Trek style, and the transporter beam has taken hold.

ipswich design

Nick Bruzon

A week of silence provides a gem from the archives

13 Oct

It really has been the archetypal ‘slow news week’. Despite what seems like an eternity since Brentford went down at Derby County, there are still another five days until the chance to get back to action when Rotherham United visit. Instead, it’s been a case of relying on the Rugby World Cup, EURO qualifiers and writing programme articles for the QPR and Nottingham Forest games, amongst others, for entertainment.

Even the club website has been somewhat thin on the ground when it comes to updates of substance. There are more facts coming out of North Korea (where it is currently ‘military parade’ season) than Griffin Park at the moment. That’s no particular fault of the club – it’s just one of the prices we pay for Championship fixtures being cancelled due to an International weekend.

North Korea - a cruel regime run by a crazed despot

North Korea – a cruel regime run by a crazed despot

This morning’s front page present a meagre crop of news, with the Vibe, Judge and O’Shaughnessy in action story being the main headline to grab the attention. Quite rightly, having three players selected for various levels of International duty is something to be proud of and full congratulations are due, to all the players involved – even if the facts behind the story are somewhat shy of the truth proclaimed in the headline.

By which I mean that despite declaring that the players were “in action” the story goes on to say that, “Lasse Vibe was an unused substitute” whilst “Alan did not make the final line-up”. When I hear the word ‘action’ I automatically think about crunching tackles, screaming goals, blistering pace and resolute defending. Not unused substitutes.

It’s a pedantic point and one that shouldn’t disguise the fact that Brentford have players this close to the finals of a major international football tournament. That in itself is an incredible achievement of how far this team has come, even if we aren’t quite firing on all cylinders at present. Instead, the point is made more to illustrate just how quiet things are out there in the media at present.

Indeed, this column has been on hold for the vast majority of the time since the Derby game. Equally, that’s been as much to do with just wanting to catch my breath after the maelstrom of recent events that saw two dreadful performances following the surprise axing of former head coach Marinus Dijkhuizen. That, for reasons which are still not clear beyond unspecified differences in approach to matter on the training ground.

Instead, I’ve been preparing the ‘Kit obsessive’ articles for the next few home games. Despite the Last Word being axed from the matchday magazine a few seasons ago (hence the current ‘online’ version) I’m very much enjoying the opportunity to write the usual nonsense about the best and worst of our opponents’ kits over the years.

It is a subject very close to my heart, as the regular reader will know about the ongoing search for an Osca 83-84 or the mythical Adidas 80-81 shirt to add to my own collection. With this quest still proving fruitless, it’s been really enjoyable digging into the historical kitbag of our rivals and looking at some of the best and worst in football fashion over the years.

Osca 83-84. One of the best/worst (delete as applicable ) shirts we've ever worn

Osca 83-84. One of the best/worst (delete as applicable ) shirts we’ve ever worn

And not just the fashions but how they were advertised. Whilst it’s a well-known fact that footballers can’t act or sing, despite numerous attempts to prove otherwise, the converse is true. Non-footballers certainly shouldn’t try and turn their hand to the beautiful game.

Researching the Nottingham Forest article, I stumbled across this beauty from the Umbro back catalogue. Decent kits, the home especially, but could the models look any more awkward?

Roll on the weekend, please. Proper football can’t return soon enough. For all our sakes.

The early 90s were lacking the slick professionalism of the present day.Thankfully

The early 90s were lacking the slick professionalism of the present day.Thankfully

Nick Bruzon

How’s this for a lucky omen?

4 Apr

Saturday sees Brentford entertain Notts County at Griffin Park, hoping to make ground on top placed Wolves (themselves, facing a tricky encounter against JPT winners Peterborough).

Flicking through the latest issue of FourFourTwo magazine, I’ve spotted two potentially positive omens. First up, is their feature on the top 50 players from the football league (i.e. Championship down to League 2).

To read the rest of this article, season 2013/14 is now available to download onto Kindle, in full. Containing previously unseen content, you can do so here for less than the cost of one matchday programme.

 Thanks for reading over the course of the campaign. For now I need to make space on this page for any follow up.  The ‘close season’ / World Cup columns continue in full, further on in this site.