Crystal Palace Home 2016/17

Currently Crystal Palace sit in a precarious position in the Premier League. We sit in 17th position, one above the relegation zone on goal difference.

We have many challenges facing us in the lead up to the end of the season. There are many points we could be discussing such as who to buy, who to sell, what formation we should play, who should play in that formation and so on.

So it came as a complete surprise to me when I stumbled upon a discussion in an online forum where several people were venting their displeasure at our current kit. I double checked the dates of the posts and sure enough they were date January 2017, a full 8 months after it was revealed to the world.

My immediate thought was ‘don’t we have more important things to argue discuss in a childlike civilised manner?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I have certain reservations about our kit but I am over it now. I was over it before the European Championship kicked off. It wasn’t something I, or we, could change so I said my piece and moved on.

While I admit the home kit still leaves me a little cold I have warmed to the away kit, the so called ‘Banana Sash’, much more than I thought I would.

At the time of it’s release Steve Parish said of the home kit “there is only so much you can do with stripes”, and he’s correct.

What’s the problem exactly? We get a kit and it is for one season then it changes again. What’s wrong with having something a little different for one season? I am not a fan of the home kit but I can stomach it for a season just like I have done countless other seasons!

Back in the day, I’ll let you guess when that day was, I was thoroughly pis… upset when we dumped the Hummel sash kit in exchange for the red/blue stripes. But I dealt with it and I bought every top.

I was a teenager with money to burn after getting my first job, or as a work friend elegantly put it “You youngsters can waste your money on that rubbish because you’ve only your cock to keep!” Well, he was from Bromsgrove!

If I am honest I have only really liked 5 home shirts since we changed to the stripes in 1987, they are:

All images courtesy of HistoricalKits.co.uk

The five I selected are not what I’d call the perfect shirt but they are close. Sure, the centenary shirt the fabric could have been better, it felt like a pyjama top but over all…

So, what were the people in the fans forum complaining about with regards our current kit? Well, it seems they regard Steve Parish as a, to put it politely, berk!

You know what berk is, don’t you? ‘Berk’ is short for ‘Berkshire hunt’… Which is rhyming slang for ‘cu…’ Oh, you get it. So all those people who detest the ‘c’ word but call people a ‘Berk’ are actually calling them a ‘c’. Ironic.

But I digress, as is my occasional want.

These fans were were accusing Parish of ripping the soul out of the club by making us play is a horrible kit which “is not traditional Crystal Palace stripes or colours!” They went on to say “He (Parish) is trying to make us look like Chelsea by making our kit mainly blue. We’re not fu*king Chelsea, we’re Crystal Palace!” One added “And that fu*king awful all red Adidas kit from 1998, was not Palace at all!”

I was at a loose end and with a few minutes to spare I decided I needed to point out a couple of things about what is traditional when it comes to Crystal Palace. Maybe they didn’t know and would find it useful?

First of all, the insinuation that our current, mainly blue, kit isn’t ‘traditional’ is so, so wrong. When the red/blue striped kit was first adopted in 1973 it had blue shorts and socks, as it did for the following two seasons. We then had ten seasons of the sash with one season of the strips in 1983-84, again with blue shorts and socks. This is my favourite ever striped kit made by Adidas.

When Adidas made the kit they claimed it was because the sash was too expensive to make. They said too much material was wasted in making the tops because of having to cut the top, stitch in the sash and the material removed was thrown away.

Our red/blue top in 1983 also, coincidentally, featured our first shirt sponsor, Red Rose.

All images courtesy of HistoricalKits.co.uk

My point is and was that we are playing in what can be called our ‘traditional’ colours now. Blue has always been the dominant colour when we had stripes until they made a return in 1987 under Steve Coppell.

At the time of their return Coppell said that the choice of a mainly red kit was to “resemble Liverpool. When you play in red it seems there are more players on the pitch and Liverpool always seem to have 12 or 13 players, they are so dominant!”

At the time Liverpool were the dominant force of English football. They won the league title a record number of times and won it 6 times in the 80s alone.

In the 18 seasons running from 1973 to 1990 Liverpool won the league 11 times! Compare that to Manchester United having won 20 titles (8 Division One titles and 12 Premier League titles) in their entire history.

As for the 1998 ‘all red’ Adidas kit, it was mainly red but as has been mentioned, they have to try something new every once in a while. I’ve made a few ‘fantasy’ kits in my time and the most requested kit is red/blue hoops. Why not, just for a season?

It seems most Crystal Palace fans today think our traditions were formed when they fell out of their mother’s womb in the 1990s. This is a major gripe of mine but English football and European football were not invented in the 90s. There is a whole history that pre-dates Euro ’96… Look it up, it was amazing.

I was born in the ’70s and I am not arrogant enough to think Crystal Palace’s history began when I was an itch in my father’s scrotum.  Furthermore I don’t think our traditions began the day I walked into Selhurst Park for the first time.

We are all entitled to our opinion but to think our personal opinion or needs are worth more than someone else’s or even a whole group is something that really irks me. It’s easy to think our opinion is the popular one because we tend to surround ourselves with like minded individuals. But it usually isn’t the case.

For me, Crystal Palace will always be the white sash kit. The first time I remember watching Palace on TV and being aware I followed them was in late 1977. I can remember someone asking me why I support Palace and I said it was because of the colours. To this day red and blue on a mainly white background is my favourite combination.

But to get to the point, if we really want to be traditional then we should playing in claret and blue because that was the colours we had for 68 years from 1905 until 1973. So, instead of ‘trying to be Chelsea’ or ‘resembling Liverpool’ we could be trying to imitate Aston Villa because they were the ones who gave us the kit in 1905.

In 1973 when Malcolm Allison made changes to the club to give us more of an identity he introduced the red/blue kit, changed the club badge and gave us a new nickname when he replace The Glaziers with The Eagles.

From The Crystal Palace Story: “Allison immediately instigated a huge stylistic shift both on and off the field, raising Palace’s profile with his charismatic media appearances, re-branding the club’s rather homely nickname ‘The Glaziers’ as ‘The Eagles’, and ending the club’s 68-year association with claret-and-blue kits. Palace’s highly recognisable red-and-blue striped home kit was introduced, and later, the all-white strip with red and blue sash, changes which still reflect in the character of the club today.”

‘Phoenix’ badge 73-90

The fact that the ‘eagle’ on the badge is actually a phoenix is down to a misunderstanding with the graphic designers at the time. But that is by-the-by. It was supposed to be a phoenix rising from the ashes of the Crystal Palace but the fans thought it was an eagle.

Look, I don’t know everything but before I go making claims about things I look them up. Traditionally and historically we should be looking like Aston Villa, West Ham or Burnley but do we really want that? I think I’d rather look like Chelsea or Liverpool but I’d prefer we look like the Team of The Eighties!

For more kits from Palace’s past visit HistoricalKits.

This article was first published in The Eagles Beak on 18th January 2017.