Get your kit ON!

7 Aug

Saturday 3rd August 2013

Nottingham Forest 1.0 Huddersfield Town
(Lansbury)

Like most kids, I was a sucker for a football kit. Not just Forest either, to be fair. I distinctly remember having the Denmark top sported at Mexico ’86; a striking Hummel design. However, before my credentials get called into question and am accused of being a glory hunting Denmark supporter (does such a thing exist?), there exists a picture from 1982 of me sporting the classic Adidas Forest full kit, standing proudly with a football expertly trapped beneath one foot. My 7 year old self really believed I was part of the team.

The first game of the season brings many new things into the fan’s world; signings, managers, opponents, advertising boards, half-time price lists, programmes, faces around you, car parking spaces, licks of paint around the ground (if you’re lucky) and of course, invariably, a new kit. Yes, that’s right; a shiny new kit for fans to pass opinion on, to upgrade and move with the times or seemingly more so these days, to go retro and resurrect a design from the 80s. Lest we forget though, for fans to splash out and purchase in order to either (a) make a public display of their unwavering support or (b) to fund the wages of our heroes.

After countless seasons of enjoying the work of Umbro’s finest designers, Forest have politely asked the good people of Adidas to whip up a kit for them. Yet, it seems that the good people of Adidas were a little busy doing whatever kit designers do and had little time to accommodate our approach. However, in a moment of rare altruism in this harsh modern world, they did find the time to acquiesce to our request in a roundabout sort of way by rummaging around in the bin in the corner of the office and fishing out an Aberdeen top. In the time it took a designer to update their Facebook status and finish off a Tunnocks biscuit (classy retro guys these kit designers – impeccable taste in sweet snacks), they ripped off the Aberdeen goalpost badge, replaced it with a tree and stuck on two silver stars torn off the sticker wall chart from the annual ‘bring your child to work day’ last year and hey presto, get me Forest on the line – we’ve got them a kit ready to go.

That’s not to say that the kit is a little bit shonky. It’s uncluttered, easy on the eye and hey, it’s the right colour and everything. And it’s designed by Adidas, like when we were really dead dead good and everything. It’s just that it looks a bit like, well, not only like Aberdeen’s kit but also any other red Adidas kit. Some might even also challenge the notion that they got the colours right. After all, our new away kit is grey. Grey. Not white or yellow (or even blue) which are all recognised and accepted as appropriate colours for Forest away kits. Grey. You know, like Manchester United’s famous grey kit, like Liverpool’s and England’s dalliances with grey. None of these ended well.

Purchasing a new kit is rife with difficult decisions these days: short or long sleeve? Pay extra for sponsor on the sleeve? Pay extra for player’s name on the back? But who? The new signing? Too risky. What if he turns out to be like Matt Derbyshire or Ishmael Miller? An old and reliable hand? Not very glamorous though having a clogger of a centre half’s name on your back. Should you pay for the number too? Personally, I skilfully side step all of these tricky decisions by simply opting out. That’s right; I opt for inaction and leave the purchase of the aforementioned kit until the end of the season and buy it from the bargain rail. Like poor old Wheezy unceremoniously dumped on the shelf in Toy Story, I take pity on these unloved shirts which were never needed back in August and give them a new lease of life. They are eternally grateful too as they glare enviously at the shiny new shirts hanging all sexy in the shop window. More importantly, they usually at least half price.

To be honest though, I’ve no idea why I keep buying the previous season’s top. I never wear the damn things. I consider it bad luck to wear your team’s shirt to their own game. Also, it’s a bit like going to a gig and wearing the band’s t-shirt. Nothing wrong with this, of course; just a bit obvious, a bit needy, a bit desperate, a bit cheesy. And I am a little too old to have my own name printed on the back. This is fine if you are 7 years old but there really should be a law against grown men having their own name on the back of their replica shirt. There is no denying that some of us still harbour hopes of being spotted by a scout playing 5 a side and becoming the first 37 year old ever to make their debut in professional football. But having your own name on your back makes this dream public knowledge…and that would be very embarrassing. If you really must share this dream, just write about it in a blog which nobody reads.

Occasionally, I might wear a Forest shirt for 5 a side. Even then though, I prefer a foreign shirt like my Roma or Brescia ones which reflect my silky, continental skills.

So, on strode our heroes bedecked in their shiny new kit for the opening game. A tentative first half gave way to a more comfortable second half after Cohen channelled the spirit of Stuart Pearce to make a bursting run from left back, play a one-two with Cox , make it to the by line and provide perfect cross for Lansbury to side foot home. Huddersfield gave as good as they got but we looked very solid at the back with Hobbs winning every header and Lichaj making expertly timed tackles. Maybe the Huddersfield players were a little befuddled themselves by their totally unnecessary yellow away kit. Surely their blue and white stripes would have sufficed since as far as I know, these colours do not clash with red. Still, they were nowhere near as confused as the new tannoy announcer who frankly, had a shocker. I’m sure he’s a nice chap who loves his mum but stumbling over Forest player’s names is not a good way to ingratiate yourself with a ground full of optimistic football fans.

I really wish I still had my 1982 Forest home kit. Not only would this save me some money by not having to buy a retro top from the very same year, which I recently did, but it might also be worth a few quid too. I really really wish I still had some of the 80s tops: the one with Home Ales or Shipstones on the front. These tops can set you back the best part of £60 if Ebay is to be believed. But it’s not only the monetary aspect that stimulates this yearning. By sporting such a top, I could be that young fan again and relive the glory days. And be kind of cool in a retro kind of way.

I could also store them away in a drawer with all the more recent tops from the last 8 seasons.

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One Response to “Get your kit ON!”

  1. Phil Lengthorn August 7, 2013 at 9:42 pm #

    Glad you found a little bit to say about the game!!!

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