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Glen Isherwood
6 June 2005
Admiral Mysteries
Unanswered questions about England's vile period.


Here are some questions about England’s kit during the Admiral years. They can probably only be answered by someone who was in the England camp or was a representative of Admiral Sportswear in their dealings with the Football Association at the time.

On the whole, the first six years of England wearing Admiral kit was a period of consistent designs. It was not a popular choice to begin with, because it was breaking decades of tradition. The plain white shirts, blue shorts and white socks were ‘sullied’ by red, white and blue piping and a logo appeared on the outfield players’ shirts and shorts for the first time in over a century of international matches.

It was not a successful period on the pitch and the kit never appeared in a major tournament, but for six years up to 1980, it remained the same design and England had a new traditional uniform. The only blights on this new design were minor mishaps:

1)  Why were there no Admiral logos on the outfield players’ kits v. Scotland in 1975? Not a problem for the traditionalists, but not consistent with their new appearance. Could their first kit have been stuck at the laundry after the game with Wales, three nights earlier?

2)  When England played Czechoslovakia in 1975, at least five players did not wear the emblem when representing their country. This is probably explained by the fact that the game in Bratislava had been abandoned after eight minutes, the previous day, but even if they couldn’t get that kit ready in time, shouldn’t every player have had a full spare kit?

3)  Why was there no emblem on Ray Clemence’s jersey v. Scotland in 1976? Not a good day at all for him, as he let the winning goal slip between his legs, from Kenny Dalglish’s weak shot.

4)  Why did England wear a plain all-yellow kit v. Team America in the American Bicentennial Tournament? They could have worn all white using their existing colours and if it had to be yellow, why didn’t it incorporate the same design as the white and red uniforms, with red, white and blue piping?

5)  Why did England wear plain blue socks v. Brazil in 1977? Brazil were not wearing red socks, so there was no clash with England’s red and white kit and they wore the red socks in both the remaining games of their South American tour. Could they have arrived in Rio de Janeiro without their socks and had to borrow a set from their hosts?

If this first period of England wearing Admiral kit was one of consistent design, the second period has to be described as one of inconsistency and indecision, eventually leading to Umbro regaining the England contract in 1984 and retaining it ever since. Most of these details would have gone unnoticed by the majority, but the photographic evidence is there for all to see!

When England qualified for the 1980 European Championship in Italy, they decided to mark the occasion, by introducing a new Admiral kit. This one was a flamboyant and colourful design with red, white and blue bands across the shoulders and chest. To begin with, the socks didn’t change and this is where the inconsistency begins:

13/05/80 v. Argentina at Wembley

New shirts and shorts, but socks remain the same, as does goalkeeper’s kit.

12/06/80 v. Belgium in Turin

First major tournament for ten years and Admiral logos removed from kit.

10/09/80 v. Norway at Wembley

A new season, new World Cup qualifying campaign and Admiral logos back on the kit.

15/10/80 v. Romania in Bucharest

Ray Clemence appears in an adidas jersey, almost identical to the Romanian goalkeeper’s.

Had the Admiral jersey been left at home?

29/04/81 v. Romania at Wembley

Still the same red uniform, but with new Admiral logo, except shorts still have old-style logo!

New modified blue goalkeeper’s jersey, blends better with black shorts and socks.

Unfortunately, like the outfield kit, the shorts still had the old-style logo.

12/05/81 v. Brazil at Wembley

Red uniform again, but this time shorts have new logo.

20/05/81 v. Wales at Wembley

Yellow goalkeeper’s kit updated with new logos.

09/09/81 v. Norway in Oslo

One of England’s blackest nights, probably not remembered for their new sock design!

Why were they 16 months late?

18/11/81 v. Hungary at Wembley

New goalkeeper’s kit.

03/06/82 v. Finland in Helsinki

New red uniform, consistent with white kit, complete with socks this time!

Espana ’82 – A Kitman’s Nightmare?

At this point, everything seemed to be settled. England had new and complete white and red uniforms and a new goalkeeper’s kit. They were about to compete in a World Cup Finals, for the first time since 1970. The first game was against France, so no colour clash. They even remembered that kit manufacturers’ logos had been banned at the 1980 European Championship. Perhaps they ought to have checked what other countries were planning to wear.

16/06/82 v. France in Bilbao

Both teams wear change colours, despite no colour clash.

France wear adidas logos.

England wear no logos and have even reverted back to old-style socks, because new ones had logos.

Peter Shilton wears new-style socks, complete with logos!

Squad numbers on shorts for first time.

Paul Mariner’s had fallen off by the end of the game!

20/06/82 v. Czechoslovakia in Bilbao

Admiral logos reinstated, on right breast and right thigh, above squad number.

Still wearing old-style socks, though.

25/06/82 v. Kuwait in Bilbao

Admiral logos added to base of squad number on back of shirt – one extreme to another!

Old-style socks.

29/06/82 v. West Germany in Madrid

Modified design of red shirt.

No logos at base of number on back of shirt.

Squad numbers on shorts change from solid black to black outlines.

Paul Mariner and Phil Thompson appear for second half in other red shirt (worn against France).

Were there no spare shirts for a hot summer’s night in Madrid?

New-style socks!

05/07/82 v. Spain in Madrid

Admiral logos disappear from base of number on back of white shirt.

Logo on shorts reverts back to left thigh.

Logo disappears from Shilton’s jersey and number on back looks uneven.

Still wearing old-style socks!

A new season began and England’s kit returned to some sort of consistency. Apart from…

22/09/82 v. Denmark in Copenhagen

Socks with logos return.

13/10/82 v. West Germany at Wembley

Logos at base of shirt number return.

17/11/82 v. Greece in Salonika

Possible confusion over colours, because England wear red when white would have been better.

30/03/83 v. Greece at Wembley

Logos at base of red shirt numbers for first time.

England never wear Admiral red again.

12/06/83 v. Australia in Sydney

New blue goalkeeper’s jersey, consistent with yellow jersey design.

12/10/83 v. Hungary in Budapest

Shilton wears outfield shorts and socks with yellow jersey.

Black ones left at home?