We recently featured a three part series, Tottenham Hotspur Kit History.
I’m delighted that the author Tony Sealey has agreed to do a question and answer session on some of the points raised by the readers from that series and indeed it’s very pleasing that so many people took an interest in the series.
Keith - Could I ask to start off by asking how long you have followed Spurs and who your early heroes were?
Tony - I have supported Tottenham since the early/mid-sixties, I was born into a Tottenham family some 4 miles from the ground, with my dad going regularly. My first favourite player was Jimmy Robertson, a Scottish right winger from 1964 until 1968, who scored in the 1967 FA cup Final win but was then sold to Arsenal, before his time was up, which has to be one of Bill Nicks few (only?) mistakes. Later heroes include Martin Chivers, Alan Gilzean, Pat Jennings, Ossie Ardiles, Steve Archibald and more recently Paul Gascoigne, who before he was injured, is the best player I have ever seen.
Keith – Got to agree about Robertson, use to love watching him tear down the right. I’ve described researching THFC history as being like a contradictory conundrum; I would expect kits to be the darkest corner of that labyrinth so what got you started researching kits?
Tony - As long as I can remember, I have always been interested in the detail of different football kits and as a kid at about 8-10 years old I did a school project on it. My interest was re-ignited back in 2005 with the publication of the first True Colours book by John Devlin, who seemed to want to record kit history in the level of detail I wanted to see. With the rise of the internet, it has made research so much easier. In 2009 I discovered the Historical Football Kits site which again matches my level of interest and as it requested input for any updates this has been both a challenge and an outlet for my passion.
Keith - Andy Rockall sent in a couple of questions in for you. The first is ‘Why did Tottenham wear yellow socks in the 1971 League Cup Final V Villa when there was no clash?’
Tony - Andy, I think that you have now established that for this season, both teams’ first choice socks were white and both teams therefore changed, however strangely, the following season for Chelsea vs Stoke, only Chelsea changed socks in the same circumstances.
Keith - Andy’s second point was he wondered “Why did the club discard 30 years of tradition by not wearing all white during the European campaigns in the 90’s ?”
Tony - Andy, I have no specific knowledge as to why Spurs dropped the all-white European kit during the 1990’s, however my cynical side suspects it was due to the lack of knowledge of our history by the clubs hierarchy at that time.
Keith – I have to agree again, I remember being very disappointed at the time when they appeared not wearing all-white.
What discovery has surprised you most in your research over the years?
Tony - The biggest things that always surprise me are the little used or one off kits. For example, the cashmere shirt of 1930, or the light blue shirt worn at Bury in 1932, similarly the red shirt with navy and red socks of 1933 and a reference to a yellow with blue and white hoops in 1962. If this series of blogs prove successful, l think a blog on these and other rare shirts could be in order.
Keith – A reader said they knew we wore red in the early days but admitted surprise that Tottenham had worn it as late as they did. Similarly I haven’t heard of the hooped kit you just mentioned from ’62.
Suraj Sharma wondered about ‘shorts being called knickers up to the 1950’s.’ Did other clubs refer to them in the same way and was this just a change in the usage of the language or ?
Tony - Suraj, you are correct about the different use of language. The term knickers (instead of shorts) was used by Spurs right up until the late 1950’s, a term that along with stockings (instead of socks) was quite common throughout football. Incidentally, the very first reference I have to a Spurs kit of 1883, from the 1908 “White Hart Spurs entry to the English League” history book, records their attire as “Dark Blue Jersey, White Breeches, Dark Blue Stockings and cap”, so using an even earlier term.
Keith - Two from me, the first, this pic, above, from the late 50’s seems to show the players wearing different types of shirt in the same game?
Tony - Keith, this is a great picture, and one of those that stunned me when I first saw it. It is from December 1956 and features a team group, taken during one of their floodlit friendlies during the first half of that season. As I said in the blog, at this time Spurs, along with other clubs, experimented with modified shirts for better visibility under the early primitive floodlights. This is the only picture I have seen of a florescent white Spurs shirt, which was probably made of rayon. Whilst this picture shows only two players wearing the shirt, I suspect that a full set was probably made and experimented with in other matches that autumn, before being discarded. Incidentally, the two shirts shown, are two of six different home shirts I have recorded for that season.
Keith – My second question / comment is this photo I came across when preparing an article for the 1920’s.
The lads hardly seem ‘uniformed’?
Tony - Again, another great picture of Cantrell, Grimsdell and Bliss, which I think is from the 1920/21 season. Until about 1951, Spurs wore navy blue knickers made of a heavy cotton material, which turned a dull blue/grey colour after numerous washes. Whilst it is not unusual to see matches where the entire team turned out in these “off colour” knickers, right up until as late as 1950, this is a rare photo where a mixed condition was worn.
Keith - There are still some ‘holes’ in the earlier parts of the story, do you think you will uncover any new evidence?
Tony - I am certainly hoping so, I continue to research and though new items are scarce, things still become apparent, even so far in this calendar year, I have clarified the socks worn in the 1933/34 season and identified a subtly different home shirt variant that was worn between March 1956 and (at least) January 1957.
Keith - Where else do you get your evidence from?
I have numerous history books on Spurs, the internet is a great source, with various Spurs and other web sites throwing up different press photos. Over the years I have probably collected somewhere in the region of 5000 photographs, which is my main source of data. I also subscribe to the British Newspaper Archive, which as more and more publications come on tends to give me more information especially for the early years.
Keith – I was asked if somebody wanted to learn more, are there any books or websites you would suggest?
Tony - The two best websites, I would recommend on Spurs kit history (after the blogs on India Spurs of course) are; the Historical Football Kits website at historicalkits.co.uk, run by Dave Moor, which is the best reference for this work and where most of my research is recorded and the Glory Shirts website at glory-shirts.com, which is a fantastic collection of match worn Spurs shirts going as far back as the mid 50’s collected by Danny Hartley.
There are also two books I would also recommend on the same topic; True Colours Vol 1, by John Devlin, which records the kit history of 20 clubs, including Spurs, back to 1980 and Lilywhite and Blue, by Jeff Maysh, which again features photographs of different match worn Spurs shirts back to the mid 50’s.
Keith – Another one from Andy, he was asking about this kit. (left).
Do you know if it was worn competitively?
Roy Reyland thought so... he said we wore it v Man City but we didn't that season and they were relegated so didn't play them the following year.
Tony - Andy, I know that you are referring to the rare 3rd yellow kit from the centenary season. So far, by my reckoning, this was worn at least three times; first off the Bristol Rovers centenary match in April 1983, which you put me onto, the pre-season Bill Nick testimonial match in August 1983 and finally a pre-season friendly against Manchester City at Maine Road in August 1984, which I believe to be the game that Roy Reyland refers to.
Keith – The Roy Reyland referred to here was the Tottenham kit man for a number of years and wrote a book about his experiences, “Shorts Shirts and Spurs”.
Long complicated question I’ve reworded a little. Your history took us up to 1977. Why did you stop there? Is this about the time that sponsors started appearing and the club would start having 2, 3 or 4 strips a season? Will you be bringing us up to date at some point?
Tony - I took 1977 as a convenient point to stop as it was the end of our forty year relationship with Umbro and the beginning of our cyclical kit sponsorships, which commenced with Admiral. If these three initial blogs generate enough interest and are deemed a success, I shall carry on with blogs on later seasons. Incidentally, us wearing three different strips per season is not a new phenomenon, as far back as 1901, we wore three, we wore four different strips in 1932/33 and wore six different home white shirts in 1956/57.
Keith – Again one of the comments arising from your series and has puzzled me was about the game you mentioned in Part 3 at White Hart Lane in 1901 V Berlin. Tottenham appear to have worn light and dark brown strips, I think this is the only time we wore this outfit ? Any thoughts of why that might be and how it came about?
Tony - My first response to this question is, do you know that this jersey is light and dark brown or is it an assumption? As I said in the blog, after finding numerous reports on the match including photos, I have no hard evidence as to what the colours actually were and if you can enlighten me with evidence I will be thrilled. As for the second part, I don’t know if this was the only time these jerseys were worn, I know that blue and white striped (presumably cotton) shirts were against Bury and Preston in the FA Cup that season, but from the pictures, seeing the heavy snow on the pitch that day, I presume them to be heavy woolen garments that were worn as a change, in extreme cold conditions.
Keith – I admit my only ‘evidence’ is the illustration and caption on the HFK’s website, (above and thanks to them.) . I did come across a reference to it ‘somewhere’ in passing but I think this was again using the same picture as it source.
Next we had a comment wondering on how kits might develop. Any thoughts on their future of kits what with sports science and built in heart monitors etc?
Tony - This is not something I have really considered. These days each manufacturer appears to want to outdo each other at each kit launch, with claims about their new advance in material technology, but I suspect most of this is primarily a marketing ploy. Advances clearly have been made in the past 35 years, going from cotton shirts through various types of man-made fibres, including double layered shirts (as worn in 2008-09), but what will happen going forward, I don’t know.
Keith – A tough one to finish. Do you have any replica shirts and if you were stuck on a desert island and could only take one which one would it be?
Tony - No I don’t have many, probably six. But given the question, my favourite of those I have, is the navy blue and ecru change shirt of 1997/98.
Keith – Thank you Tony, for your time and an interesting series as well as this session. I’m sure our readers who are spread around the globe these days have enjoyed it as much as myself and hope you will find time to share some more insights at a future date. If these articles have provoked any other questions do send them in.
The three part series starts at - http://www.indiaspurs.com/blog/tottenham-hotspur-kit-history-1-1945-1977
and is worth a visit if only for some of the images from Tony's collection.
Top - Home 1955-59.
t- Keith 16024542
f- peter shearman (old non de plume)
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