Platini in Kimberley’s Stockings
Remember when you forgot your PE kit and the best case scenario was rooting through a basket of lost property to save the indignity of having to prance around the school hall in your y-fronts?
Well at my primary school there was this Netherlands 1988 shirt that some sorry bastard must’ve left behind. A beautiful shirt I’m sure you’ll agree. In 1991 it caused so much hysteria amongst my peers that it was binned by a teacher sick of watching kids wrestling to dress like a charity shop Marco Van Basten. Its majesty never wooed me. All I saw was a washed-out orange t-shirt that a thousand other sweaty kids had worn and, in all honesty, had weird issues with even touching it. But when the equivalent happens in football, I’ve got loads of time for it.
In September 2000, as if a game on FIFA was being controlled by some heretic with no regard for the realms of reality, I watched Tranmere Home beat Tranmere Away 2-0 at Prenton Park. I mean, who could really blame Sheffield Wednesday for reckoning the chances unlikely of both their blue and white home kit and all white away clashing with Tranmere's white and blue colour scheme? They must’ve been horrified to find themselves kicking off in a pungent green and orange number from Tranmere’s 1998 autumn/winter catalogue.
It happens more than you might think in the lower leagues. In fact, Tranmere were guilty of the same assumptions as Sheff Wed for a trip to Colchester back in April 2014. Rovers wore the home team’s gold away kit with striker Ryan Lowe scoring a late winner proclaiming “whether we had to wear a different kit, or even skins, we needed to take three points," perhaps proving that the embarrassment of playing half naked for a portly PE teacher (or Ronnie Moore in this case) never leaves you.
The 2013/14 season was riddled with kitman cock-ups. As it happens, Mansfield dressed up just how Torquay like it, Barnsley walked a heat-map in Palace’s shoes and Sheff Wed finally got someone’s kit off back at their place when Millwall forgot to even pack one. Maybe the maddest of all happened in Egypt when Ghazl Mahalla’s kitman forgot the goalie kit for a league match at Al Ahly. Everything was sound though; they were able to just nip into town and buy a Liverpool goalie shirt, then iron their own McDonalds sponsor over the front. No jaunt to JJB was ever complete without a Maccies I guess.
Speaking of JJB, Wigan owner Dave Whelan once tried tailoring the Andorran national team in his image. For a Euro 2008 qualifier at Old Trafford the Tricolors forgot to pack any colour, and not one to miss a tight-fisted-marketing-opportunity, Whelan kindly stepped up and offered some of his dowdy sportswear. Much like Bono’s equally dowdy hat however, the proper kit swaggered in on the next flight out of Barcelona.
The charade isn’t completely unheard of at the summit of world football. During Argentina ‘78 , France had to ravage the clothes of a local and suspiciously promiscuous sounding amateur side Kimberley de Mar del Plata. They romped to a 3-1 victory over Hungary in her slimming green and white stripes after there was a clash concern for anyone watching on a black and white telly.
In 1997, Chelsea were sent to Coventry with only their home kit, and the ref said no. Much fannying around ensued resulting in a 15 minute delay to the kick off and Chelsea getting to wear Cov’s rather cool French-branded red and black chequered number. They must’ve felt le right coq though, and were sportiv-ly beaten 3-1. They did however, add some of their own French-branding to the jersey when Franck Leboeuf threw his to the floor and spat at it. Shirty.
In 2001 Gillingham’s kitman accidentally packed the club’s home kit instead of their away for the short trip to bitter rivals Millwall. Seems like a pretty stupid mistake to make seeing as Millwall’s home colours are no secret, and it must’ve pained a few fans when their beloved Gills ran out in a green away kit belonging to their most hated enemy. Things got worse when Millwall took the lead, but I imagine it was all worth it when Marlon King struck a winner following Guy Ipoua’s equaliser. Is there anything better than beating your rivals in their ground and kit? For the fans I mean, getting out of prison must be up there for King. Still, I hope he kissed the badge.
It makes you wonder who the whole palaver favours. You’d initially think the home side - but then footballers aren’t always the brightest coloured goalie kit in Jorge Campos’ wardrobe. Maybe they struggle with remembering that the players in their away kit aren’t actually on their team. It’s surprising some teams don’t play dirty when it happens. You’d think the situation was perfect for itchy shirts or ill-fitting youth kits. I personally think they should make them buy all the garb in the club shop at least.