The kit – is it a problem?

For a number of years some Bradford City fans thought that the club could move to wearing an all claret shirt putting the style and attractiveness of an AS Roma over the traditional stripes which the Bantams wear most often.

Those people have had twelve months of watching City wearing such a strip and it looked respectable. Some say they preferred to watch City wearing such muted attire but most were less impressed, happy to give the claret shirt a go, but keen to move back to something more, well, Bradford City.

No one seems to have asked for an all amber shirt.

Yet an all amber shirt with claret shorts and socks seems to be what Bradford City will be wearing next season and owing to reverence of Saturday’s tributes, the blinding quality of Gareth Evans’s goals and the eye-splitting idiocy of the pitch invaders the new shirt hardly got a mention.

Of the mentions one heard of it few could find anything positive to say. It looks like Watford and while closer examination shows it has claret pinstripes that only serves to make it look more like a Hull City top.

Lots of people wanted stripes, some people fancied claret but no one wanted amber and it is amber which we have.

Two questions emerge. Firstly, most obviously, is the question of who decided this design and who at Valley Parade had the chance to veto it. These are practical questions and ones which – if one were of a mind to – one could put down to a malaise at the club – a narrative which piles poor decision onto poor decision.

Secondly though one is forced to ask if a club’s football shirt really matters? To the outsider one gaudy outfit looks much like another and the mums that have washed football shirts for the last couple of decades of rapid change will probably tell you that none of them have any sartorial elegance.

No sartorial elegance but plenty of tradition which is what a shirt encapsulates. It is a tribal identifier, colours if you will, which is no about looking good just about looking like you belong in a sea of similar coloured scarves. Some clubs have changed colours and built new traditions – Leeds United wore blue and yellow but won the league in a Real Madrid inspired all white and not are indelibly cast in that colour – and perhaps had Stuart’s City romped to League Two last year City would have done the same. We did not.

So does it matter? To those interested in history and tradition it does but those people are already writing a line in the books that says (once again, for we have been here before) “for two seasons City wore alternatives to stripes…”

Does it matter to supporters? Since the rapid changing of shirts began City have been in amber pinstripe while the likes of Robbie James and Phil Babb wore a similar and equally un-City like top and no lasting effects were felt, or so we assume.

Ultimately question of how much a shirt matters is measured at the tills of Valley Parade. There was no rush to buy this new top, there was no huge interest in it. If the average shirt buying man of Bradford decides that he will spend the £30-odd on something else and wear the top from two stripey seasons ago simply because they do not fancy being asked about The Tigers’ chances of promotion bouncing back to the Premier League as they wander around on their summer holidays then matters of sartorial elegance are of less importance than financial concerns.

If we need all the money we can get why put out a shirt which fewer people are going to buy?

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