When it comes to football, it’s the name on the front of the shirt that matters the most, not the name on the back. This is especially true with Arsenal as the club has always come first and foremost throughout its long and storied history. It’s true that the team’s kit has changed and evolved over the years with new advancements in technology being one of the reasons, but each and every player who wears it has to have the desire and passion to honour it.
The Gunners’ dynamic new home kit for the 2014/15 season is designed by Puma as the club has signed a new sponsorship deal with the sports giants after their agreement with Nike expired. Since this season represents a new era in the side’s home uniform, let’s look at the history of Arsenal’s original home kit.
Way back in 1886 before Arsenal was formed as a professional team, the club was known as Dial Square FC. Several of the players were former members of Nottingham Forest and they showed up with their old red kits. The management figured the least expensive way to outfit the side would be to give the rest of the players red kits. Therefore, the club’s very first kit consisted of a long-sleeved dark red shirt which featured a collar and three front buttons. The shorts were white and came down to the knee while the socks had white and blue hoops. The goalkeeper’s kit was identical, but the shirt came with a polo neck and was cream coloured.
When the Gunners moved to Highbury in 1913/14 the players were still wearing this kit. However, when Herbert Chapman arrived to manage the side in 1925, today’s modern-era kit was introduced. Chapman changed the strip when he was inspired by seeing somebody wearing a red sleeveless jumper over top of a white shirt. The manager then decided to combine a red, white-collared shirt with white sleeves and placed the Arsenal badge on the upper left side of it.
A second kit was designed during the 1950s in case the opposing team had a similar-coloured kit. About 10 years later the team’s rugby-style shirt was changed to cotton jersey. The Arsenal cannon logo made its first appearance in 1967 and a few years later the club won the double for the first time by capturing the FA Cup and league crown in the 1970/71 campaign. Before the 1970s were over the team added the manufacturer’s name Umbro to their shirt for the very first time. The Gunners’ first sponsor, JVC, then showed up on the front of the jersey in 1981 and Dreamcast then took over the spot 2000.
In 2002 the front of the shirt featured an O2 logo and this was replaced by Fly Emirates in 2006 when the airline became the club’s main sponsor. Also in 2005/06 season, which was Arsenal’s last at Highbury, the team wore a commemorative redcurrant jersey in honour of their first season there. The socks were also redcurrant while the shorts were white and the lettering on the shirts was gold. In 2007/08 the away kit featured white shirts and redcurrant shorts in honour of Chapman. The club also had a navy and redcurrant third kit with stripes.
The players wore special home shirts to celebrate the clubs 125th anniversary in 2011/12 and these featured a bespoke crest. It also had 15 laurel leaves on the left side f the Arsenal crest and 15 oak leaves on the right of it as well as the motto “Forward” under the crest. In addition, the years 1886 and 2011 were portrayed on the jerseys. For the 2014/15 campaign the Gunners will have a home, away, and a third kit on hand.
The home kit features the traditional red shirt with white sleeves and white shorts. The top left of the shirt is home to the team’s crest while a small Puma emblem sits on the right side. The Fly Emirates logo is featured in the middle of it. The sleeves of the shirt also have red details on them as well as a Puma logo on each side. In addition, the club’s motto Future, Forever, Victorious is on the inside of the collars. The shorts have red trim along the left side with the Arsenal logo on the bottom right and the Puma logo on the bottom left. The socks are red and white hoped versions, which were also worn in 1994 and 1996.
The away shirt is yellow and has navy blue sleeves with the Fly Emirates logo being in red. The shorts are navy with a yellow stripe and Puma and the socks are also yellow and navy. The third kit has a two-toned blue shirt with a couple of thin lime-green stripes. It has plain blue sleeves, but the front of the jersey has light-blue diagonal stripes. The shorts are navy with a yellow trim while the socks are also two-toned blue.
No matter what kits the Gunners are dressed in this season, they’ll have to play with passion and desire each and every time they wear them if they are to challenge for the league title, domestic cups and European Champions League.