DeadBat creates consensus, debate and sometimes mass hysteria with his post-match analysis and player ratings on S24SU.com. He is also keen to negotiate a sale for any shirt missing from his collection*. You can catch him on Twitter – @Deadbat_DB.
“Sheffield United kits from down the years and why I love and loathe them.”
I collect United shirts. I never wear them. Well, almost never. When we have the odd big game or last day of the season, I may dust off one of the retro ones and stick one on. I simply collect them and put them away. Weird I know. I am only missing a few* – the two yellow ones from the mid 80’s, the thick red stripe Sabella from the late 70’s (Hobot) and the rare 70s Admiral specimens.
As for the rest, I have got the lot pretty much other than the odd one which I am sure I will acquire at some point. I do not buy the new ones until they go on offer, or I use a few trusted internet sites. Been great to get a few reproductions from some great sellers recently. It is an odd habit really. The wife hates it. Not sure what the point of it is.
Anyway, I digress, I got them all out the other day and started to look at them. I was thinking, which is my favourite (including those I don’t own)? We had kits from our formation until the 1960’s but they did not change massively and I’m not sure I can debate the quality of these too much.
With that in mind I’ll start by looking at the kit worn in 1970 by the great Currie team, right through to this year’s offering. I will discuss each shirt and its pros and cons and the players that spring to mind when I look at them. This is very subjective and I’m sure every fan would differ in some regard.
Deadbat to start off, do you want to go Home? Or Away?
Let’s start by going Home, Sue….
1968-1975 / No sponsor / Make unknown
Description: Stripes are perfect in thickness for me. Love the old United badge too (current one is great too – we are lucky in that regard). Nice round collar. Black shorts and white socks. Simple, clean and effective. Remember it for a great team of course which helps
Players it makes me think of: Currie, Woodward, Dearden
1975-1976 / No sponsor / Admiral
Description: Stripes are thicker and have a black trim. Collar changed a bit over this period but the shirt stayed essentially the same. Still had black shorts and white socks but trim looked a bit tacky on both. Downgrade from what we had but still a nice kit for me.
Players it makes me think of: Johnstone, Anderson, Colquhoun
1977-1979 / No sponsor / Admiral
Description: Shinier version and definite shift in material. We see the new badge that didn’t Harry Haslam have a hand in designing or what is then chairman John Halsall? Lot more sleek and modern with a flyaway collar but the shirt thickness and black thin stripes accompanying it were similar to the previous version. Recently been re-made and that is the version you see above.
Players it makes me think of: Johnstone, Anderson, Colquhoun
1979-1981 / Sponsor: Cantors/Bentleys / Make: Hobot
Description: Wow. A total difference. Broad red stripe with thin stripes alongside. It should not have worked but I quite liked it as a cult kind of kit but can see why many did not like it. More like Southampton and the fact it is not traditional does lose it marks. Also coincided with a dreadful spell which does not help it. This is not mine- thanks to http://www.oldfootballshirts.com (if anyone wants to sell me one pretty please!)
Players it makes me think of: Sabella, Givens, Garner
1981-1983 / Sponsor: Renault/Bentleys / Make: Hobot
Description: Stripes are back. Shiny material too and the little blades logos in the stripes should not work but they do. Really good kit and synonymous with the 4th division title win. Knock is the red socks though but a great innovative design.
Players it makes me think of: Hatton, Edwards, MacPhail
1983-1987 / Sponsor: Simmonds / Arnold Laver / Make: Umbro
Description: Stripes are a bit thinner but this is a classic United kit. Simple in many ways but works and the first shirt I owned. Like the stripe on the black shorts too.
Players it makes me think of: Arnott, Cockerill, Bolton
1987-1990 / Sponsor: Arnold Laver / Make: Umbro
Description: Thin stripes for both us and Wednesday. Our rivals had thinner blue where we had thinner white stripes. Not sure it worked at all. I think Umbro tried to give a nod to some of the early day kits for the Sheffield teams. Only refining factor is the chequerboard shorts and that we won two promotions wearing it so that gives it extra kudos.
Players it makes me think of: Stancliffe, Agana, Pike
1990-1992 / Sponsor: Arnold Laver / Make: Umbro
Description: Still thin red stripes but with thin black ones in between the thin white stripes. It was better than the previous kit and we wore it for the first two seasons back in top flight. The bright yellow Laver sponsor oddly added to it – sponsors usually make kits worse. Not one of our better kits but as with previous one part of a happier time.
Players it makes me think of: Booker, Bradshaw, Deane
1992-1994 / Sponsor: Arnold Laver / Make: Umbro
Description: Thicker stripes are back and a more normal United kit but still had black thin stripes but along the red this time. The string collar was a thing at the time. Most players and fans just took it out. I suppose it was something different and a bit of a throwback. I quite liked this kit. Not so keen on the crest and how it was re-done in a shield shape. Also, white shorts a big no-no for me. Shame as spoiled a decent effort.
Players it makes me think of: Pemberton, Cork, Hoyland
1994-1995 / Sponsor: Arnold Laver / Make: Umbro
Description: Our last Umbro kit. We wore this for our last full season under Bassett End of an era in many ways. Not sure the red bits on the shoulders worked nor the black stripe across the chest for the Laver logo. Awful trim on the bottom of the shorts too made it look like some awful boxer shorts peaking underneath! Associated with the ahem hit film…When Saturday Comes
Players it makes me think of: Sean Bean, Blake, Flo
1995-1996 / Sponsor: Wards / Make: Avec
Description: Oh my goodness. Apparently, Dave Bassett had a hand in designing it. Was he drunk when he got his felt tips out?! No stripes, Diamonds of different shapes – looked like harlequins Dreadful.
Players it makes me think of: Ward, Cowans, White
1996-1997 / Sponsor: Wards / Make: Avec
Description: Really big fan of this. Similar to the design of the early 70’s; the stripes were of a decent thickness and the collar was a simple v neck too. Just looked really classy. Howard Kendall’s side sadly played better stuff in the awful design of the previous year. Socks and shorts could have had a bit more effort put into them but this was one of our better kits make no mistake.
Players it makes me think of: Taylor, Katchouro, Holdsworth
1997-1999 / Sponsor: Wards / Make: Le Coq Sportif
Description: Broader stripes again with the thin black trim making a return too. It was ok this design and felt quite modern. Like the shorts with the thin red stripe between the middle and side. Not quite a United kit in terms of the thickness of stripes but it was a bit different yet still not too radical.
Players it makes me think of: Deane, Fjortoft, McGrath
1999-2000 / Sponsor: BladesUnited / Make: Le Coq Sportif
Description: Odd to say as the stripes were similar in thickness to the good kit of the mid 80’s but it does not work. The thin black here does not work (that only works in thicker stripes for me) and the collar – a round one – is hideous. The sponsor is not even a proper company and adds to it looking quite cheap looking. The socks were a bit different I suppose.
Players it makes me think of: Woodhouse, Devlin, Murphy
2000-2002 / Sponsor: Midas Games / Make: Patrick
Description: Not too dissimilar to the previous one but stripes a bit thicker and a better collar. The sponsor was a real company but had an awful purple background. A poor team full of limited players does not help me remember it fondly either.
Players it makes me think of: Santos, Ford, Uhlenbeek
2002-2004/ Sponsor: Desun / Make: Le coq Sportif
Description: Another different version with a thick white breast and white shorts and socks. The sponsor was a foreign company. The shorts were spoilt by being white and the odd red bit at the top. We had a good side that wore this but it was not a classic United kit but was something a bit more innovative and I preferred it to two previous ones.
Players it makes me think of: Brown, Kabba, Page
2004-2005 / Sponsor: HFS Loans / Make: Le Coq Sportif
Description: Red shorts. Red shorts. Red shorts. The shirt was ok but too much red with it being red shorts – did I mention that. Red socks also. Most players wore this long sleeved which was a bit odd.
Players it makes me think of: Liddell, Gray, Morgan
2005-2006 / Sponsor: HFS Loans / Make: Le Coq Sportif
Description: A promotion shirt so that gives it good memories. It had a thin white part on the sleeve with black trim and this actually looked ok. Stripes were decent thickness. White collar. HFS Loans logo in blue does not work. Not a fan of Black socks either. White or Red at a push.
Players it makes me think of: Shipperley, Jagielka, Tonge
2006-2007 / Sponsor: Capital One / Make: Le Coq Sportif
Description: This shirt was not much different from the one we went up in but actually a bit worse. Did not quite stand out as much and just a bit bland.
Players it makes me think of: Hulse, Geary, Gillespie
2007-08 / Sponsor: Capital One / Make: Le Coq Sportif
Description: Thicker red stripes but a bit too thick – only two stripes and this made it not really work with the shoulders. Seemed like our kits were getting gradually worse at this point.
Players it makes me think of: Shelton, Kilgallon, Beattie
2008-09 / Sponsor: Visit Malta / Make: Le Coq Sportif
Description: The sleeves and the curved collar does not work. The stripes are ok thickness but sort of fade out. Horrible shorts too.
Players it makes me think of: Sun Ji Hai, Montgomery, Cotterill
2009-10 / Sponsor: Visit Malta / Make: Macron
Description: Even stranger way of accommodating a sponsor and this leads to an odd shape on the front. Big Macron logos on either sleeve look tacky too. Red flappy collar too. Not much better than the previous years efforts
Players it makes me think of: Ward, Henderson, Quinn
2010-11 / Sponsor: Visit Malta / Make: Macron
Description: Not much different from the previous version with a bit more white on it and less red stripes. Relegation shirt too.
Players it makes me think of: Williamson, Collins, Yeates
2011-12 / Sponsor: Westfield Health / Make: Macron
Description: The year we somehow lost out to Wednesday in the race for promotion. A better kit not sure the red sleeves work. White socks at least but bad memories in the end.
Players it makes me think of: Evans, McDonald, Maguire
2012-13 / Sponsor: Westfield Health / Make: Macron
Description: A retro shirt that was based on the version from the mid 70’s. I really liked this one and despite the overdone Macron logos on the shirt sleeves and right down the shorts. It had white socks too. One of our better kits this despite the poor end to the season.
Players it makes me think of: Lowton, Cresswell, Kitson
2013-14 / Sponsor: VSports / Make: Macron
Description: Start and end of the David Weir era. Red breast and sleeves, stripes too thin and sponsor we have never heard of. Poor team and poor kit that looks cheap. One kit too many for Macron.
Players it makes me think of: Hill, Porter, McGinn
2014-15 / Sponsor: John Holland / Make: Adidas
Description: Getting Adidas felt like it was the first proper kit make since the Umbro Days so it had been almost 20 years. Le Coq Sportif and Macron had made a few decent ones but too many did not hit the mark. This was a much better kit but still not great for me. Stripes may be a bit thick and not sure about all red sleeves but smart shorts and socks. I did not like the way the badge was centralised though with the Adidas logo to the side. The sponsor also is a bit shoehorned.
Players it makes me think of: Doyle, Murphy, Higdon
2015-16 / Sponsor: John Holland / Make: Adidas
Description: After the first Adidas effort; United tried to recreate a shirt that celebrated its 125th anniversary that resembled one of United’s first ever shirts. It did not work. In the first game, it seemed all white. You could barely see the thin red pinstripes. The shirt was nice enough and as a kit was good – the red shorts actually work with it. Like the retro badge too. Sadly, it is not a United shirt. At least not a home shirt.
Players it makes me think of: Baxter, Hammond, Sammon
2016-17 / Sponsor: Alpharooms / Make: Adidas
Description: Black trim on the sleeves and decent thickness of stripes. This was marginally better than the first Adidas version. We won the league in this so another that will be seen very favourably.
Players, it makes me think of Sharp, Freeman, Coutts
2017-18 / Sponsor: Teletext Holidays / Make: Adidas
Description: A thing of beauty. Achieved the impossible. Looked fresh, new and innovative but also looks classical in the same way. A recall listening to a national kit podcast (yes, the days fly by with me) and the experts said it was the kit of the season. The black sleeves oddly work as does the black stripes down the red. The stripes are a good thickness and even the sponsor is kind of retro.
Players it makes me think of: Clarke, Baldock, Fleck
2017-18 / Sponsor: Ramsdens / Make: Adidas
Description: Where do I start? The awful green boxed sponsor (has to be black; the white sleeves and then the awful white back with no stripes. The stripe choice is ok and decent thickness and a bit ‘ mid-80’s’. If they carried on all over the shirt and all over the back we have a decent shirt. It still would not have been close to last seasons stunner but been ok. As it stands it is really poor and does not work.
Players it makes me think of: McGoldrick, Egan, Evans
The marks are in, and so…
…Deadbat presents the best and worst…
Best home kit
1) 1968-73 – Classic United kit. Everything works. Tremendous side. Tremendous kit.
2) 1996-97 – Very similar to the early 70’s one. Just looks like a United kit.
3) 2017-18 – Modern but still looks traditional. All the colours work well.
Worst home kit
1) 1995-96 – Diamonds are forever. Thankfully for us; it was only one season.
2) 2015-16 – A plain white shirt in essence. Awful season too. Think of Adkins when I look at this.
3) 1999-00 – The sponsor or lack of a proper one, the round collar, it just looks cheap.
Tune in, same time next week, for Part Two – Deadbat Gets Shirty: Away