Ahead of the launch of the new 2012/13 Leicester City home kit by PUMA this Saturday, Club Historian John Hutchinson charts the evolution of the Leicester City shirt.
Over the years, Leicester City’s shirt designs have evolved almost beyond recognition.
Designs, materials, shirt crests, shirt colours, shirt manufacturers and shirt sponsors have all changed. Heavy woollen shirts have been replaced by lightweight man-made materials. Shirt collars have included a whole variety of lace-ups, round necks, v-necks, and lapels. There has been a variety of shirt colours too.
The first Leicester Fosse shirts were black with a blue sash. These gave way to brown-and-blue-halved shirts. The next shirts were dark blue with light blue sleeves. These were replaced by white shirts before the Club settled on an all-blue shirt in 1902. Apart from a period during and after the First World War, when a dye shortage resulted in blue and white striped shirts, and 1972-3, when the Club experimented with an all-white kit, royal blue has been the consistent colour for well over a hundred years.
For the first six decades, there was no badge on Leicester shirts. The Fox’s head made its first appearance in 1948 and gained national prominence in the 1949 FA Cup Final. The original design, a red fox in profile, only lasted a season before being replaced by the famous Fox head in profile set above crossed riding crops. Various versions of this, based on either a shield or a circular shape, persisted until 1983 when it was replaced by the running Fox. Nine years later, the original version of the current badge was introduced, with the Fox no longer in profile, and with the design incorporating a white cinqfoil, part of the coat of arms of the City of Leicester. The riding crops disappeared.
1983 saw a major departure in Leicester’s shirt designs in other ways too. The tradition of a plain blue shirt was broken with the introduction of thin white vertical stripes. This opened the way for a variety of white markings (sometimes with red additions), pin stripes and white panels, to be introduced in the years which followed, adding to the traditional plain blue. Modern manufacturing techniques also saw the addition of Club-related designs, such as Club crests, logos and other patterns, being incorporated into the fabric of the shirts.
The most dramatic departure in shirt designs, the introduction of a shirt sponsor, also dates from 1983. Ind Coope (for two years) was followed by one year of John Bull before ‘Walkers Crisps’ and ‘Walkers’ , were emblazoned onto the shirts in various forms for the next 14 years. The new century saw a succession of shirt sponsors, ‘LG’, ‘Alliance and Leicester’, ‘Topps Tiles’ and ‘King Power’. There was not a shirt sponsor in 2009-2010, recalling an earlier era in keeping with the Club’s 125-year anniversary season.
Manufacturers’ logos on Leicester City shirts made their first appearance in 1976. The very distinctive Admiral shirt with logo’d shoulder bars and a circular central crest was followed by Umbro, Admiral again, Scoreline, Bukta, Fox Leisure, Le Coq Sportif, JJB, Jako, Joma, Burrda Sport and now PUMA.
Since its introduction over one hundred years ago, Leicester traditional blue shirt has been paired with white shorts apart from one season in the 1960s, four seasons in the 1990s and a total of three seasons in the last ten years, when the shirt was part of an all-blue strip. Socks have generally been white, but there have been several seasons when they have been blue.
Away kits over the years have often been either white or yellow, but there has been an astonishing array of colours in addition to these. Red, black with a blue flash, jade and blue halves, Fosse gold and the infamous Ind Coope green kit with yellow stripes all spring to mind.
Leicester City shirt designs evoke clear memories of past eras. Whenever a fan sees an old shirt, memories of feats performed when that shirt was worn, ranging from FA Cup Finals, League Cup wins, promotion seasons and Play-Off Finals instantly spring to mind. With this in mind, next season’s Matchday Magazine will be running a series featuring the complete range of Leicester City shirts from the past.
The brand new Leicester City home shirt by PUMA will be unveiled on the morning of Saturday 21 July and goes on sale from the City Fanstore and lcfcdirect.com from 8am ahead of the day’s open training session at King Power Stadium.
Entry to the open training session will be FREE for all supporters, who will watch from the Family Stand as Nigel Pearson and his staff put the players through their paces, a little more than three weeks before the 2012/13 campaign gets underway. Entry to the Family Stand will be from 10am, with the session due to begin at 11am. There will be no entry to the training session after 10.45am.
PLUS six lucky winners will have the chance to meet some of the players after the session, by taking part in our fantastic SOCIAL NETWORK COMPETITION!
Purchase your new PUMA home shirt from the City Fanstore in the morning, take a picture of yourself wearing it at our open training session, then contact us on Twitter or Facebook:
TWITTER: Tweet your picture with the hashtag #lcfckit to @OfficialFOXES.
FACEBOOK: Like our status at LCFC Official, then make the image your profile picture.
Six lucky winners (three from Twitter and three from Facebook) will be chosen at random to meet the players and we’ll send you a direct message to let you know you’re a winner!
Meanwhile, the first items from the 2012/13 PUMA trainingwear range – including training jerseys, training shorts and polo shirts – are now on sale from the City Fanstore and online at www.lcfcdirect.com.