Flash-back to the 28th March 2009. A new England home kit is launched, billed as the 2009-11 kit, and it’s brilliant. Shorn of the kind of needless squiggly embellishments designers often put on new kits in an attempt to make them modern or futuristic ahead of time – in the way 1980s Sci Fi films tried to make their outfits futuristic ahead of time – but which only ever succeed in making them look dated in a few years (in the way 1980s Sci Fi films looked dated in a few years) it was simplistically chic in it’s blank canvas whiteness. It was also – ingeniously – completely unlike a football shirt. It was a polo shirt. A blank, timeless polo shirt harking back simultaneously to the 50s, 60s and 70s and, crucially, looked good – or passable – on fat middle aged men, chavs and the kind of people who think that wearing a football shirt out and about around town looks distinguished and not at all completely ridiculous.
Flash-forward to South Africa 2010, and I’ve never seen so many fans uniformly wearing the same kit. Usually at international tournaments you get a hotchpotch of eclectic era shirts. Shirts from the 90s (which, like every other fashion form the 90s, were all uniformly terrible), shirts from the 00s (when the trend of adding needless jutting stripes to everything in an attempt to make them look ‘sharp’ and ‘modern’ really took hold) and re-issued shirts from the 60s, which is always a firm favorite of your average “I want to look different, but I don’t really want to look different” type of fan. Here though, in the shining sun of the African continent, the new 2009-11 England World Cup kits were ubiquitous. Here was a shirt that was timeless, a shirt we could wear for years without once looking like an extra from Buck Rogers transported into the actual 25th century only to find that he didn’t blend in at all and only succeeded in looking just like an extra from the 1970s. And in a time of recession, what a gloriously fitting and usefully multi-purpose tool this was. Damn I thought, Umbro really have their work cut out trying to get people to buy the next one. Why they should probably wait a while before they try and hawk around another. Never fear, it’s the 2009-11 kit, they won’t need to worry until late 2011. Oh what a fool I was.
Flash-forward to September 2010 and blow me down with a feather, Umbro have unveiled a new kit, billed as the 2010-12 kit, and it’s….well I don’t care what it’s like. F**k you Umbro!!!
The obvious talking point that will, and already has sprung up from this is naturally – “what an awful time to release a new kit”. And justifiably so. With many still not fully recovered from the collapse of the economy and with stock in the England team as low as it’s been for decades it seems madness to go on the offensive with a new must have accessory now. Not to mention the fact that the furor over the price and excessive releasing of the previous installments has only just audibly died down, in part mainly thanks to the deafening furor caused by how utterly crap England were wearing them this summer.
The FA and Umbro seem certain to be setting themselves up for a fall. Which is a shame as I’d spent all summer praising them for the cost effective timelessness of the kits they had produced for not just England, but Man City, Rangers et all too. Whilst Nike fiddled around with cheaply made United shirts in the wrong colour and adidas simply re-released all their old kits with different coloured collars, Umbro seemed to be the only people releasing genuinely good, worth a punt efforts. But alas, the Umbro of old – or perhaps the overbearing influence of their parent company Nike – is back in full force. To add insult to injury there’s even a limited edition blue away kit England have never worn that’s still being hawked around for £49.99. How stupid do these people think we are? Actually, on second thought, don’t answer that.
For the record, the kit itself has taken the granddad Steptoe approach to fashion, with a long-john style neck line that serves no purpose but to show off Wayne Rooney’s chest hair, and with the shorts reverting back to blue from all-white. There’s also some embroidered multi-coloured St Georges cross’ flung about the place which presumably stand to signify our multi-cultural tolerance of colours. Green being a particularly significant colour in our ethnically diverse landscape. Orange too, which is a very touching tribute to Ron Atkinson and Wes Brown I feel. None of this unfortunately makes up for the fact that a pink cross on a white background isn’t actually a St Georges cross. At all.
The promotional picture seems to be implying a new dawn of sorts (which will inevitably be both the campaign’s focus and it’s excuse) but instead looks more like Wayne Rooney’s been demoted to the women’s team and forced to play on a marsh miles from Wembley whilst he hatches a ball from his backside.
I for one will not be buying it. Instead I’d implore anyone with a view of purchasing an England kit to simply by the old ‘new’, perfectly good one when it’s inevitably reduced to £5 on Sports Direct when this one goes on general sale. In fact sod it, buy 10, impress your friends. If you like the reversion back to blue below the waist, buy the shorts on their own whilst making use of your wedge by proving just how timeless the old kit was by shunning this in favor of it. New kit? Bah, humbug!
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