I came across a lovely website recently called Historical Football Kits which provides a graphical representation of football kits, through time, for an array of world football clubs. I was naturally drawn towards Liverpool Football Club and began to reminisce about away shirts I bought as a kid (below). I recall one Christmas morning waking up and walking downstairs to be greeted by the famous ‘gold and black’ away shirt Robbie Fowler made famous during the 1994-1995 and 1995-1996 seasons. I also remember the away shirt from the 1993 – 1995 period, the first I put a name and number on. My vanity knew no bounds and “BUTLER 7” was emblazoned across the back. The home kits were more straightforward with my eyes drawn towards 1989 – 1991, Liverpool’s last strip as league champions and the first I owned as a kid.
Source: Historical Football Kits
Scrolling back through the years it was interesting to see how the kits evolved. Carlsberg became Candy, Adidas became Umbro. Candy then became Crown Paints, before Crown Paints became Hitachi, the first sponsor to appear on a top tier team in Britain (see below). The two away jerseys looked equally impressive.
So should owners, players and fans alike thank Liverpool Football Club for their ground-breaking insight which has resulted in massive financial rewards for modern clubs.
Well, no actually. Its Kettering Town they should acknowledge.
The Northamptonshire based club were the first in Britain to put a sponsor on their jersey’s when club chief executive and manager Derek Dougan signed a deal with a local company. The Poppies played Bath City on the 24th of January 1976 with the words “Kettering Tyres” splashed across their home jersey.
Dougan, a Belfast native, was quickly reprimanded by the Football Association (FA) who demanded the sponsor be removed. Dougan responded by changing the name on the jersey to “Kettering T”, allegedly insisting the “T” stood for “Town”. The FA persisted and with the threat of a £1,000 pound fine hanging over their heads, Kettering yielded and the sponsor was removed. Nearly three years passed before “Hitachi” appeared on the famous red of Liverpool Football Club.
So whether you see “Chevrolet”, “Fly Emirates”, “Samsung” or any other sponsor on Premier League shirts this season remember who started it all, Kettering Town - a club who will play in the Southern League, Division One Central this season – the eighth tier of English football.