Following our successful series looking at the history of Tottenham's match day kits Tony Sealey now turns his attention to the games where Spurs have wore 'unique kits' for various reasons across the ages.
Whilst Tottenham have played in white shirts with navy blue shorts (or knickers as they were called till the late 1950’s) since 1898 and during this time, their change kit was normally navy blue and white worn in either vertical stripes or broad hoops, (whisper it) red, plain navy blue and since the late 1960’s yellow, they have at numerous times during this period worn either unique or one off kits. With this article, I will cover those kits that have popped up from time to time and try to put them into context.
One of the first was worn for a friendly match against a Berlin IX on a very snowy pitch at White Hart Lane in January 1901, light and dark broad hooped, crew necked woollen jerseys were worn.
Despite finding a number of match reports for this game, including one with numerous illustrations, I cannot find any record of what the colours being worn by Spurs are.
Moving onto December 1908, reports state that red and white stripes were worn against Fulham.
Spurs’ unique shirts have not always been limited to outfield players, in 1909, the rules changed requiring goalkeepers to wear different colours to the outfield players.
Right - Tommy Lunn
For the 1922 FA Cup semi-final (Left and above left)
also against Preston at Hillsborough, Sheffield, Spurs wore blue and white vertical stripes, with the blue being lighter than that of their knickers.
Now as Preston played in red shirts that day, I believe that these shirts were in fact borrowed from their hosts Sheffield Wednesday, presumably as Spurs had travelled with the red shirts they had worn in the semi-final, also against Preston, the previous year.
It is not only colours that Spurs have been innovative with, for the 1930/31 season, Spurs introduced a new home shirt that was made of a cream/off-white material, with a pure white collar.
According to a contemporary report in the Tottenham Weekly Herald, unusually this shirt was made of cashmere wool and turned off white after washing.
I can find no reason for the use of this unusual and now luxurious material. These shirts seem to have been dropped some time after Christmas 1930.
Despite having a standard change kit between 1930 and 1937 of broad navy blue and white hoops, a myriad of alternative one off change kits also appeared.
In the first post war league game, which was still the Football League South, they are shown to have worn blue shirts with white knickers at home to Wolves, for which I can find no explanation.
During the mid ‘50’s, occasionally, unique stockings (socks) would be worn. (Bottom image)
In October 1954, they wore plain white stockings, (possibly for the first time) at Sheffield United, in February 1955, navy blue stockings were worn, which had a turn-over of navy blue and white vertical stripes, finally at the end of that season, in a friendly match against Kinizsi of Hungary, Spurs wore white stockings, with navy blue and white tops.
The mid ‘50’s also saw the first regular use of floodlights in England and Spurs, along with other clubs, experimented with modified shirts for better visibility in the early primitive floodlights.
In late 1956, florescent white shirts were worn in at least one floodlit friendly match. To continue this experiment, a dazzling change kit, described as either all amber or all gold, was worn in at least six matches between 1958 and 1960, as was a yellow kit with blue and white hoops in 1962.
None of these experimental kits proved to be satisfactory as the artificial material used tended to cling to the body when wet and proved uncomfortable for the players and were subsequently discarded.
Whilst I have never seen a photograph of either of these two change kits, for the away leg of their European Cup Winners Cup match against Lyon in 1967, Spurs wore an unusual combination of their normal navy blue away shirt, matched with amber shorts and amber and blue hooped socks!
Could these have been the socks and shorts from these earlier kits? At this stage I do not know.
For the 1973 League Cup Final against Norwich City, Spurs wore an all-white kit, but for the first time an overt manufacturers logo appeared on the outfield players kit when worn on the shorts, it would be another two years, before a manufacturers logos would become a permanent feature of a Spurs kit.
In February 1977, Spurs played Leeds at Elland Road in an all royal blue kit, with white collar and cuffs and cadet stripe down the side of the shorts and on the socks turn over, but no club crest.
Again I can find no reason for this, save that the normal all yellow change kit would have been hard to differentiate with Leeds’ all white kit on a black and white TV broadcast, however the match was never broadcast.
In 1980, during their first season of using Le Coq kits, Spurs played at Brighton, whose royal blue shorts were deemed to clash with those of Spurs, at this point the white “European” shorts had not be introduced, so an emergency pair of yellow Le Coq shorts were worn. These differed from the away shorts of the time as they did not have any Spurs crest on them.
During the centenary season of 1982/83, a rare third kit of all yellow, of similar design to the home kit, was worn at least once, away to Bristol Rovers, whose kit clashed with both the first two choices.
In a testimonial to celebrate their own Centenary, this was probably also worn in a pre-season friendly against Manchester City at Maine Road in August 1984.
In April 1984, the 1980-82, yellow away kit, complete with Holsten branding added across the chest, was revived as an emergency third kit for the match at QPR, as both the home and away shirts would have clashed. This was worn with the normal home navy shorts. This shirt was also worn for the UEFA Cup Semi Final 1st leg away to Hajduk Split that month, where this time it was matched with the normal white shadow striped “European”shorts. Spurs played in an end of season tournament in Swaziland, in southern Africa, where they were sponsored by Black Cat, apparently a local casino.
On New Years eve of the 1986/87 season, Spurs arrived at Highfield Road, with their new all navy blue away kit to play against Coventry City (see above) who, at that time, played in sky blue and white stripes. However, the referee deemed this to be a clash and forced Spurs to wear Coventry’s change yellow shirts. However, the same all-navy kit was allowed at the same match for the opening day of the following season. Incidentally, this is the only time since 1922, that I believe Spurs have worn another teams shirt, though “home team” royal blue socks had been worn at both Middlesbrough and Everton in the ‘80’s. This was not the only “wardrobe malfunction” that Spurs were to suffer against Coventry that season, for FA Cup Final Spurs wore an all new all-white kit and due to an internal mix up with the match embroidery on the shirt, six Spurs players played in youth team shirts, minus the Holsten beer sponsorship logos. Ironically, the furore this caused afterwards, probably gained Holsten more coverage than had the team all worn the correct shirts.
In 1995, Spurs moved to American company Pony for their kit supply. Initially the long sleeved shirt featured navy blue and white piping down the sleeve, however, by the end of September, possibly due to quality issues, the sleeves had become plain white and remained so for the first team for the next two years, strangely this issue did not affect the short sleeved variant, which retained the piping.
In the 2002 League Cup Final, Spurs played Blackburn Rovers. That season, Spurs away kit was light blue and the Football League deemed that both Spurs’ shirt would clash, so Adidas produced an emergency third shirt of yellow (or “golden poppy”) and navy blue.
As this shirt was not sold commercially, the club panicked that they may lift the trophy in a shirt not available to the fans and produced a set of white shirts for the presentation ceremony. Nothing went to plan and Blackburn won 2-1, leaving Adidas to pick up the cost of producing two sets of kit that would never be seen again.
Above - examples of the various socks wore by Spurs during the 50's
To celebrate Spurs’ 125th anniversary in 2007, they played their home league match against Aston Villa, being the closest home game to the founding date, in a commemorative light blue and white halved shirt, to match that as worn in the first known photograph of the team from 1885, (top image).
At the start of the 2010/11 season, Spurs had has delays in agreeing a suitable shirt sponsorship to replace Mansion, which in turn had delayed the launch and release of that seasons kits, so for the first pre-season friendly against Bournemouth, unsponsored training shirts were worn.
Finally, in recent season, Spurs have worn charity shirts, with either special embroidery or an actual change to the main sponsor. These shirts have then been auctioned off to raise money for that specific charity.
Editors note - Thanks again to Tony for an most interesting look into Tottenham's kits and for supplying the images from his own collection. Please remember if you any questions or thoughts on Tottenham kits pease contact me.
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