Five Definitive Classic Football Shirts from the Premier League: 1992-2010
Some of our Favourite Vintage Football Kits from the Premier League Era
Defining Retro Football Shirts of thier Time
Since the advent of the Premier League in 1992, kit manufacturers have been engaged in a perpetual battle for the eyeballs. Some classic football shirts make your blood run cold; others make you feel like you're sitting beside a roaring fire of nostalgia. In this article, we'll take a closer look at five definitive vintage football shirts from the Premier League, all historical football kits worn between 1992 and 2010.
In that time, footballers have been unwitting mannequins, dressed up in all manner of glad rags, some good, some not so good. We've seen the bold, the brassy, and the bodacious; we've seen the clean, the crisp, and comprehensible retro football shirts. We've seen explosive, nuclear meltdown neon (Chelsea 07-08), executive office chair grey (Manchester United 95-96), and every semitone of colour in between.
So in no particular order, here are some of our favourite old football kits from th Premier League era, the sportswear equivalents of a 30-yard screamer or deft lob over a red-faced goalkeeper.
Blackburn Rovers, 1994-95 Home Classic Football Shirt
Blackburn Rovers' title triumph in 1995 was the moment the modern money-crazed Premier League was born. The East Lancashire side were crowned champions financed by the riches of local steel magnate Jack Walker.
But if the origins of their title triumph were salubrious, the football they played certainly was not. Manager Kenny Dalglish's instructions were clear: get it wide to Jason Wilcox and Stuart Ripley, then put ball after ball into the area, where the big centre forwards, Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton, could pounce.
It was simple but devastatingly effective, and the rugged beauty of the strategy was reflected in Blackburn's vintage home kit. The symmetry of the blue and white halves, with a flash of red in that deep, distinctly 90s collar – it was typical of the era. One of many Asics classic football kits.
Manchester United, 07-08 Home Classic Football Shirt
Sometimes, simplicity is genius. Manchester United’s classic football kit for the 07-08 season is a flagship for that doctrine.
United arguably have more iconic vintage kits than any other Premier League club. The lace-collared shirt worn between 1992 and 1994 instantly denotes a swaggering Eric Cantona and is the darling of many supporters.
But for my money, United's greatest old football kit of the Premier League era was the 2007-08 home shirt.
Block red, without any suggestion of a background hologram or superfluous white trim, United wore the shirt for their second Champions League triumph under Alex Ferguson. It was a historic kit characteristic an era of opulence for the club, one in which they blew teams away rather than simply finding a way in injury time. Its only flourish was a simple strip on the back which beautifully framed the name and numbers of Premier League greats, the likes of Rooney and Ronaldo.
Manchester City, 2009-10 Third Classic Football Shirt
As the Premier League left the Noughties, a new dawn was breaking. Backed by the eye-watering wealth of Sheikh Mansour, Manchester City were on the warpath. They followed up the bombastic signing of Robinho the previous season by bringing in the likes of Carlos Tevez, Patrick Vieira and Emmanuel Adebayor for the 2009-10 campaign.
This was a new order. But in their attire, Manchester City expressed their heritage and a supposed desire to stay true to their roots. Umbro remastered the famous City vintage football kit worn by Colin Bell and Asa Hartford in the 1970s, a simple white number embellished with a diagonal black and red sash. Crucially, the sponsor - Etihad Airways - was shrunk and stitched underneath the crest rather than splashed across the chest as is customary.
The best was yet to come for Manchester City, who would qualify for the Champions League for the first time the following season. But this gorgeous, tailored look third shirt was the high point in terms of retro kit design.
Newcastle United, 1995-96 Away Classic Football Shirt
We love this vintage football kit, love it.
Kevin Keegan's Newcastle United lit up stadia and living rooms alike in the mid-90s, playing attacking football with cavalier abandon and sporting some of the most iconic strips in modern top-flight history.
Their away shirt for 1995-96, a burgundy-navy piece with white detailing on the collar, sleeves and cuffs was a masterpiece. In David Ginola, Faustino Asprilla and Philippe Albert, Newcastle United had an array of cosmopolitan talent but the shirt's sponsor – Newcastle Brown Ale, a legendary local brewery – lent this vintage kit an air of feet-on-the-ground authenticity.
Famously, the Magpies sacrificed a 12-point lead in the Premier League that season, eventually finishing 2nd behind Manchester United. In terms of cultural legacy, however, they are almost unrivalled.
Nottingham Forest, 1992-93 Third Classic Football Shirt
This mint-green shirt, featuring a serrated stripe across the midriff was rarely worn by Nottingham Forest in the 1992-93 season – a real shame. It’s a beautiful design however, one that combines the best elements of early 90s style. It was out there in terms of its distinctive pattern, but not as bawdy as some of its contemporaries; Arsenal’s famous “bruised banana” away shirt, for example.
If you squint, the shirt looks a little like a line graph, though unfortunately for Forest the upwards direction of the stripe did not represent their footballing trajectory: they were relegated at the end of the inaugural Premier League season. It was an ill-fitting finale to the managerial career of Brian Clough, one which symbolised a paradigm shift in English football. At least they went down in style.
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Guest Contributor Adam Williams.
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- Lewis Davison