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A kit of alright?

By Lee Ryder on May 4, 11 10:55 AM


Newcastle United unveiled their new kit today with mixed reaction from Toon fans.

Looking back I think that the style of a kit is usually associated with the memories of how the team performed when wearing each particular shirt.

Kevin Nolan in the latest Newcastle United strip

The history books tell us that United don't usually stray away from black and white stripes with the last non-black and white striped shirt coming way back in 1894 when we donned red (the colours of East End FC).

I guess that some kits are just 'a grower' aren't they?

It would be impossible to go through every single kit we've had but here are a few memories of kits from me.

Looking back there were some horrendous memories of the old barcode kit of the early 1990s such as being smashed up 4-0 away to Southend United or being beaten on home turf by the likes of Brighton, Millwall and Charlton.

I'm quite sure that at one point, the club amazingly STOPPED selling it while we were struggling at the wrong end of the Second Division.

It began life with Greenall's plastered across the front of it but then when Newcastle Breweries sponsored the Magpies in mid-season, I can remember fans being handed a crappy DIY kit to cover up the Greenall's sign and replace it with a blue star.

It was a bit like slapping a beer mat on the front of your shirt!

As time went by and United went from Second Division no hopers to First Division champions, the club finally got their act together and started selling the kit again.

For me the barcode shirt of the Peacock, Kelly, Cole, Venison and Beresford era turned out to be a real favourite of the fans.

It was followed by the Asics kit in 1993 which fell apart or clicked if you walked past somebody.

I can remember quite a few people sending them back actually.

Yet for me the next kit will always be the number 1 in my eyes - unless they reproduce it retro style and make some of us feel even older.

Cast your mind back to the summer of 1995 and...the grandad collar.

At first I wasn't convinced but it didn't take long for it to really grow on a lot of people.

That summer I went to Magaluf for a holiday and everywhere you looked you could see black and white shirts, on the beaches and in the bars.

Everybody was wearing the grandad collar classic and hopes were high we could push on and actually win the Premier League.

On the flight back, they were handing out copies of the Daily Mail (long before the days of texts, blackberries and iPhones), as I flipped it round I discovered we'd signed a bloke called David Ginola.

I couldn't wait to get back home and the excitement continued to build when my season ticket hit the doormat.

I'd be here all day if I was to pluck out all of the games.

But I remember Bolton away when we swept aside the Trotters at the old Burnden Park, Ferdinand got two and Rob Lee grabbed another.

It was pretty straight forward for Newcastle in the first part of the season and they raced into a 12 point lead at Christmas.

We weren't just beating the teams we should be beating, but we were also rolling the Arsenals, Man Citys and Chelseas over in style too.

Manchester United though just wouldn't go away.

They beat us on Boxing Day at Old Trafford to stay in touch.

Still one fan was brave enough to get "Champions 96" on the back of his shirt.

The second part of the season was tougher as they overturned our massive - and seemingly unbreakable lead.

Nevertheless, we still churned out the results and stayed on top of the pile.

Yet while we still had a slender advantage, something died the night that Man United arrived at St James' Park in March.

A mis-hot volley from Eric Cantona and a superb performance from a certain Danish goalie caused the damage.

After that the season became a bit of a blur.

If the first half of the season was the euphoria of a Saturday night in the Bigg Market with the beers flowing, the second half was almost certainly the hangover that swiftly follows.
Defeats followed at Arsenal not long after Man U.

Yet another turning point was at Anfield. The score 4-3 on a night that only Newcastle could be involved in as Stan Collymore smashed home a later winner.
Keegan's head was slumped over the advertising hoardings.

The lights were going out on our title bid.

The next game against QPR at home resulted in another struggle when a certain Ian Hollway hooked the Rs in front.

Only Beardsley's late double at the Leazes End kept us in the hunt, the team was dying on its arse.

Mid-season swoops for Tino Asprilla and David Batty hadn't had the full desired effect, but Beardsley was carrying us.

Things that were going for us in the first half of the season were now conspiring against us, not least at Blackburn.

Batty had fired us 1-0 up late on for what would have handed us a vital win.

With four minutes left Graham Fenton - a Geordie no less - came off the bench and scored twice, three points quickly turned to none.

The next week gave us hope, Southampton beat Man U 3-1 at the Dell.

The next day Newcastle won 1-0 against Villa.

Yet pressure was beginning to show, John Beresford told KK to "f*** off" after a row over defensive duties with Ginola not tracking back.

We stayed in touch with Man U though and the next game bought a 1-0 win over Southampton at SJP only for Leeds to go down 1-0 at Old Trafford.

Leeds were then beaten 1-0 at Elland Road as Newcastle stayed in touch again but after the game, Keegan, it seemed had cracked to Fergie's mind games and his infamous "Love it" rant was performed.

As the season fizzled out, we went to Forest needing to win to go level on points but after only a point was picked up, it meant that Man U needed to screw up at Boro and we needed to beat Spurs.

Outside the ground some bloke offered me £200 for my ticket, I declined.

It wasn't worth the prospect of not seeing Newcastle lift the title.

They didn't, Boro rolled over for Man U, and Boro fans celebrated the goals against their own team.

A Newcastle team that were walking on water couldn't even complete their side of the bargain on the day and drew 1-1 at St James' after coming from a goal behind.

The nerves and experience of not being in the box seat eventually go to them.

As I applauded the players round the pitch.

A big Geordie lad - donning the famous kit - behind me put his arm around me and said: "We'll win it next year man son."

I believed him.

5 Comments

Faustino said:

Nice blog, Lee. The barcode kit is still one of my all time favourites along with the grandad collar and the final kit with 'Brown Ale' sponsership, which changed to NTL the following season.
This new shirt could be up there with them. I feel they've missed out by only having two white striped amongst all the black. I like the fit of the shirt and the look of the material but white sections on either flank would bring a bit of class and balance to it, and how I long for the days of black and white stripes on the back instead of the solid block of colour.
I've seen one shirt made up with white lettering and numbers on the back, surely a return to gold names and numbers - to match the gold Puma logo - makes more sense.
Enough about the shirt, what really annoys me is Puma's insistance of replacing every shirt with a new one every season.
Having one that lasts for two years means so much more to the 'normal' people who buy the strip. It also makes each launch that much more exciting and relevant. For example, I'm not the biggest fan of the new offering, but my thought is, 'Oh, well, we've only got it for a year.' On the flip side, if its a good one then it puts me off buying it as it will be out of date in a year.
I had high hopes for our kit when the club switched to Puma from Adidas, but i personally now hope that NUFC don't extend Puma's deal and go with someone else. One of Umbro's Tailored kits would be great and Nike never fail to deliver (even though their kits do seem to be templates spread across several teams), maybe even a new brand like Under Armour.

Paul said:

hahaha, my ribs just cracked remembering all that stuff.

toonagain said:

rubbish! it really does look bad. do these manufactures ever look into the design historically and talk to supporters? this is surely something that would be dismissed by 9 out 10 supporters if they were asked. an in-balance of stripes doesn't work, if they wanted to be bold they should of just got rid of the 2 white stripes and made it all black with white arms and the away strip being the oposite. this is just niether something or nothing, which probably will reflect our season, it defo reflects our current season, so may be they they have got it spot on and i should just shut up...

PercyArcade said:

Absolute disrespect for NUFC's tradition. Nolan looks like a Special Constable in a stab-proof vest. I'll stick with my properly striped retro cotton shirts (Hughie Gallagher, Wor Jackie, Supermac, etc)

Dave said:

It looks like a mourning strip for some ancient Crusaders. Hope we don't start any religious wars.....

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Lee Ryder

Lee Ryder - Proudly born and bred on Tyneside, the Chronicle's chief sports writer has followed the fortunes of the club over the last three decades as a Toon fan and football writer.

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