Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Which is football's oldest original-design club shirt?

According to Australian freelance journalist Bruce Griffiths, who recently did some significant research on football for the Guinness Book of Records, the oldest surviving jersey design in the world (taking in all sports and codes) is the 133-year old black-with-red-sash of the Australian Football League's Essendon Bombers FC. According to Griffiths, the world's famous high-profile clubs come nowhere near matching the Melbourne-based 'Aussie Rules' club's tradition. For example the New York Yankees' famous white uniform trimmed with black pinstripes was not adopted until 1915. Before that, it was all white.

Scottish football club Rangers, founded one year after Essendon in 1873, started with a simple light blue jersey and while it remains the dominant colour today, the design has changed several times.

Many England football clubs boast a similar story including, for example, Tottenham Hotspurs, who were formed in 1882 using a blue-and-white strip and later wore red, then navy blue and since 1985 has been all white.

Arsenal began in all-red in 1886, then changed to red and white sleeves and even introduced a gold strip in the 1950s. And while red and white always has been the dominant combination, the strip has changed design-wise several times.

Perhaps the most basic design of them all is the black-and-white vertical stripes of another Melbourne-based Australian Football League club, the Collingwood Magpies (formed 1892) and famous English Premier League club Newcastle United (1893) but both have varied over the years, most notably Newcastle, which originally was red and white.

If you have evidence that Essendon's design is NOT the oldest surviving original, please let us know!

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