There was a time when the unveiling of a new football kit would be one of the biggest events of the year. Fans would rush to the club shop to get their eyes on the latest upgrade in the identity of their favourite football club.
Nowadays new kits have lost their appeal. Almost every season a new home, away and third kit are unveiled to the fans – usually costing upwards of £50 just for a shirt. The shirt sponsors are normally bland too, with most rather than iconic brands such as Autoglass and Coors.
Chelsea players will run out in their third kit, not to avoid a colour clash with the opposition but to fulfil commercial obligations to the sponsors.
This is just another example of the rabid capitalism that is slowly eroding the game as we know it. But let’s not get bogged down in all of that. Instead let’s take a look at some of the best Chelsea kits from the past few decades.
Home Kit – 1984/1985
Cast your mind back to 1984, a time long before the arrival of Roman Abramovich, Richard Scudamore and ‘loyalty payments’ scoring 9 goals in the process. Allez les bleus was the collective call of not just France, but football purists around the world.
With this in mind Chelsea put the design of their new home kit in the capable hands of Le Coque Sportif. The result was a blue jersey with horizontal strips as well as red trim on the shorts. The kit conjured memories of Gallic flare from the recent summer of fun as well as marking Chelsea’s return to the first division.
Nigel Spackman, Pat Nevin and Kerry Dixon wore the kit with aplomb as they helped Chelsea to a sixth-place finish and a League Cup semi-final on their return to the big time.
Away – 1997/1998
When we think back to Zola in the pomp we are reminded of him wearing this yellow and blue striped classic. Admittedly with modern eyes the kit itself looks like a monstrosity. The fading stripes, the badge in the centre of the chest framed by a giant UMBRO logo. But it is still a classic.
Even more so when you consider that Chelsea won the League Cup, the Cup Winners Cup and finished 4th in the Premiership.
Away – 1994 – 1996
No discussion of historic Chelsea kits would be complete without an entry from this abomination. The orange, grey, white and black concoction was thoroughly disgusting, but that’s what makes it iconic.
Luckily for the sponsors Coors, their brand logo was fairly difficult to spot with all the clashing colours and obscure lines.
Home – 2003 – 2005
Fly Emirates took over the main sponsorship of Chelsea kits in 2001 from Autoglass – who were responsible for some pretty good shirts. The brand logo fitted seamlessly into this classy, simple and elegant shirt.
The kit also holds a special place in the hearts of Chelsea fans because it was worn during a unique period in the club’s history. This kit marked the beginning of the Roman Abramovich era, when Chelsea broke the duopoly of Manchester United and Arsenal in the Premiership.