Oi Polloi

Top Ten Football Kits

Published: Wed Feb 29 2012

Amongst the ever growing band of Oi Polloi employees, it has to be said, the love for football comes way down the list. It resides somewhere below the love for ace music, posh cars, smurfs (yes, smurfs), swearing, sushi, crushed minstrel buttons and actual crushed minstrels. But of the few who do believe the beautiful game is still beautiful there’s some clued up chaps.

We know we’ve been bombarding you with some amazing new stuff of late so we thought it was time for some light relief.

While you’ve been sitting at home, stroking your beard and wondering if the socks with sandals look is one you’re ready to embrace this summer (you know you are), we’ve been stroking our own facial fuzz to come up with this whimsical aside – a top ten list of the best football kits we’ve ever seen.

10. At number ten, it’s a curious one. Made famous by Tranmere Rovers fans Half Man Half Biscuit, this Dukla Prague away kit is amongst the most obscure/nice kits you’re ever likely to see. While the kit itself puts us vaguely in mind of fictional team Melchester Rovers (who didn’t quite make the cut), it’s probably closer to Motherwell or Bradford. We can’t suss out if Dukla Prague still fully exist as they once did, but apparently if you go and see HMHB, you can’t move for ‘wacky types’ wearing these. Not bad for 5-a-side… if you want to do your mates heads in.

9. At the opposite end of the scale, here is a kit so ambitiously bad it's good. In 1994, the USA hosted the World Cup. Although they've improved a fair bit since, their pursuit of the World Cup was one that was never really going to get off the ground. Instead they tried to win the world over in the fashion stakes. Flame-haired Rocky Dennis lookalike Alexi Lalas led his team out in this fetching faux-denim shirt, embossed with a few stars — which echoed the other kit they wore which was a flag-esque red and white stripes. Bold, but they got away with it, just. Go Team USA etc. etc.

8. In contrast to the USA shirt, Real Madrid have remained faithful to their all white kit for ages. The addition of minor flashes of purple or black, plus the sponsors logo has taken away from the simplicity of this over the years — but with their gold-rimmed badge this is a classic, and proof that often, less is more. The Leeds United version, complete with posh sock ties gets an honorable mention here too, but they're not as exciting as Real Madrid. Sorry Leeds.

7. Madrid's arch rivals Barcelona have only recently decided to forego their plain shirts and allow a sponsors logo to ruin it somewhat. Over the years they've stuck fairly closely to their blue and dark red design. There are probably some clever names for the shades of blue and red but we've all seen it. If it's good enough for Cruyff, Maradona and the Madchester-haired Messi, it'll do us, cocker.

6. This one is proof that international kits, minus fussy sponsors logos and the need to change every August are the best. Nike and Umbro seem to be fighting it out between themselves for the title of coolest kit maker, and in this Nike effort, Les Bleus have a change kit that is the best there's been in years. Taking inspiration from the French breton t-shirts made by the likes of Saint James and Armorlux, the shape of this and the overall clean design makes us wish we were French in a way. Only a bit, though. The last few England kits have been decent too, but we like this one better.

5. We mentioned old Johan before. Balotelli looks like a babyish show-off when compared to Cruyff and although Cantona's antics earned him some serious cool points, he never did it in quite the same style as Cruyff for Holland and Ajax. Quite apart from his ace abilities with a ball, his memorable moment came in the 1974 World Cup. With the bitter battle between Puma and adidas raging in Herzogenaurach, Germany, Cruyff nailed his colours to the Puma mast. He had a lucrative deal with the brand but his cool Dutch kit quite clearly bore the 'drei striefen' of their rivals. Rather than shrug and continue to pick up his money from Puma, he arranged for his number 14 kit to lose a stripe. Even incomplete, it's still a classic.

4. We'll dip outside Europe to South America now. In truth it could have been any number of club sides from that part of the world but we've gone for Boca Juniors. Maradona is known mostly for being a cheating little get on these shores, but in the rest of the world he's revered, and rightly so, nowhere more so than at Boca. He made his name in their ace kit. There he is next to the coaches in a team photo featuring the most rigidly folded arms ever.

3. Post-1990 was a good time to be a football fan in many ways. TV coverage had increased but was nowhere near the saturation point of today. Channel 4 gave us Italian football and while it always seemed to be a boring 0-0 draw the calibre of the players on show was always ace. Sampdoria played at a smart ground in a smart kit. Vialli and the bald bonce of Lombardo were joined by Oldham's best bollock lookalike David Platt. We should shoe-horn a mention for Fiorentina (who everyone annoyingly seemed to refer to as 'Florentina' at school, the wallies). Their purple kit was always pretty standout, if slightly un-hetero, especially with the long haired Batistuta up top banging them in. Oo-er. We'll stick this with Sampdoria effort thanks.

2. Another example of a team making a kit classic is the 1990s Milan effort. Up there with the best teams of all time, their black and red stripes and white shorts was copied by every Sunday League side this side of Saddleworth. The Rossoneri featured a gold star above their badge to denote the 10 league titles they'd won, plus a shield in the Italian flag colours. Franco Baresi with his captains armband and untucked shirt makes for an unlikely style icon but a worthy one.

1. Ooh Brazil, the team everybody hates to love. It seems like it's become cool to dislike those Samba sods these days doesn't it? Is it because they're just dead good? Is it because they come from a country where teams with ace kits like Flamengo and Fluminense play? Or is it because it's cool to be contrary? Who cares about that. They play in arguably the most iconic kit there is. White socks, blue shorts and yellow shirt with green trim. It makes no sartorial sense whatsoever. It's like a lost property kit or something. Colombia and a few other South American nations wear similarly mad mashups. But surely if you're starting with a yellow shirt with a splash of green, the shorts must be green too? Nope, blue. What makes it work is the fact it shouldn't. Also, the amount of downright cool players who have worn it over the years give it more kudos than any massive endorsement deal. From Garrincha and Pele through to Fat Ronaldo and Romario via Zico and the king of cool himself, Socrates, it's been worn by the best. If latest hope Neymar is to be added to that list he'll need to cut his hair. We can but hope.