Tuesday, 20 August 2013

BJ's SOLSL: My friend John, with some Football History

"John Lovett who enjoys writing and sometimes updates his blog" is how he wants me to introduce this.  This is very typical and succinct of him.  So it can stand.

Mr Hooting Yard is the link here; he introduced us via cyber some time ago, and we seem to have got along very nicely ever since.  I’ve no idea what he sees in BJ here, but I find Mr Lovett a fount of friendly and sudden information; I am happy with his brain.  I love his blog – which he just does NOT do as often as I would like him to – because every time I go there I learn something I didn’t know before.  Usually about something I was under the impression I didn’t give a toss about.

Take this post he has written for me for instance.  When he first suggested it, I wanted to say – ‘but I hate sport! I don’t care!’, but then I read it, and I was interested.  By the end I was hmmming and thinking about…football.  (Fry will be laughing, he’ll think my blog has hit perfection now it has a football post on it.)

So, my lovely Readers – learn something, and then visit this blog and learn some other stuff too (there's posts about Mozart, Polari, BMI diets and lots of other things you wouldn't put together...): http://johnrlovett.blogspot.co.uk/  and http://johnrlovett.wordpress.com/

Enjoy this spot of Football History (and never say I don’t give you variety on this blog…occasionally):
A brief history of changing colours
It is that time of year when the football season kicks off around Europe. Which many people find a bit on the dull side. One of the issues that has come to the fore over the last couple of years has been the colours that teams wear. This is down to teams changing colours for reasons of sponsorship or luck. So lets have a look at teams that have changed colours and why. 

The obvious place to start is Cardiff City. The Blue Birds will be in the Premier League for the first time this year. Playing in Red. The team are owned by Malaysian born businessman Vincent Tan whose money saved the club from administration Tan decided that changing the teams colours to red, a lucky colour in Malaysia it might bring luck to the team. The change happened before last season City won promotion. A plan to rename the team the Cardiff Red Dragons was put on ice although a dragon is now the dominant image on the club crest the blue bird is still on there but a lot smaller. 

Have you ever wondered why West Ham’s shirts are identical to Aston Villa? Well it has to do with a man named Bill Dove. Dove had been an internationally renowned sprinter and was working with the West Ham team when they traveled up to Birmingham to play a cup tie against Villa in 1889. Some of the Villa players bet Dove, by now in his 40s that they could beat him in a race the length of the pitch. Dove won. The Villa players, unable to pay up, were able to give Dove a set of shirts instead.  At the time West Ham were still an amateur club while Villa a league side. But there is no real evidence that this ever happened. In fact Villa and West Ham did not wear the same colours till 1903 and the team that played Villa in 1889 was Thames Ironworks a predecessor club to West Ham. No one is sure what really happened. 

Talking of contrasting sleeves. That brings us to Arsenal. Apparently in 1933 Herbert Chapman the clubs chairman saw his gardener wearing a red pullover over a white shirt on a misty morning and thought that look could help players pick each other out on the pitch. Before then Arsenal played in Red shirts. So he had some white shirts and pullovers made up for the team. These were not popular and soon they switched to red shirts with white sleeves. Of course some doubt this story of the gardener. 

Another team who play in white and red are Dutch champions AFC Ajax Amsterdam. But it wasn’t always so. When the team formed they wore all black with a red sash tied round the waist. Then they changed to red and white striped shirts and black shorts. However on winning promotion to the Dutch top flight in 1911 they had to change again. At that time there were no change kits and if a new team had the same colours as an existing team in the league then the new boys had to change. Sparta Rotterdam already had dibs on the red and white stripes with black shorts so Ajax adopted a white shirt with broad red stripe and white shorts. They still wear these colours today and now that change kits are allowed Ajax regularly revive the original all black look. 

Keeping the Dutch connection Blackpool FC are famous for playing in Tangerine. This came about when a club official Albert Hargreeves refereed a match between The Netherlands and Belgium in 1923. He was impressed with the Dutch colours and suggested it to the club who soon adopted it, although in the late 30’s they switched back to light and dark blue stripes, the clubs original colours. That said before switching to the tangerine they played in all red and at the end of the First World War played a season in black red and gold to honour the Belgian refugees who were billeted in the town. 

Of course some teams change colours to be like a more successful side. Many of the top teams today wear colours that echo the dominant team when they first formed. Leeds United are the exception to this starting out in Blue and White stripes, they switched to Blue and Yellow in the early 30’s to echo the colours of the town crest. In 1961 they changed to all white to mimic Real Madrid. Then a dominant force in Europe they were not quite the only ones. Tottenham Hotspur play in white shirts and blue shorts and socks and have done so since 1900 but since 1961 Spurs have played in all white in Europe to echo Madrid.
Talking of changing colours to mimic another team Juventus in 1903 wanted to replace the pink shirts that they had been using up to that point and asked an Englishman John Savage to help. Savage wrote a friend in Nottingham who got hold of a set of Notts County’s black and white striped shirts. Juve still play in these colours today. Of course Newcastle also play in black and white stripes and when fans were angry at the owner Mike Ashby a few years back a section wore Juventus shirts, to still show the colours but not give and money to the hated owner. 

Perhaps the most surprising colour change of recent years is Luton Town. Many assume that the hatters switched from White and Blue to Orange and Blue after all of their money problems as part of a deal with EasyJet the new sponsor whose colours are Orange and Blue. This isn’t the case, the club wore orange and blue in the 70’s when they played in the top flight and orange and blue are the colours of the crest of Luton and the fans voted for a return to orange and blue before EasyJet came aboard; the airline based at Luton use the colours of the town as now do the club.

There are many more odd changes that have happened. Although strangely throughout team sports it is the teams that rarely if ever change their colours who have the best winning records.

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