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Stoke City, Umbro, 1983-84 – Pin Stripes and Full Colour Sleeves

After a brief experiment at the beginning of the 20th century with red and blue in the ‘Southern League’, Stoke City have been straight up red & white stripe fanatics. That is, except for one year in 1983/84. That was the year when they opted for a difficult to describe main section of red pinstripes with full colour sleeves. The effect is pinkish, and frankly looks odd.

Stoke City, Umbro, 1983/4

Stoke City, Umbro, 1983/4 (as modelled by Mark Chamberlain)

But that doesn’t mean the Umbro shirt can not be admired. What can also be admired was manager Ritchie Barker’s foresight in the summer of 1983 to turn what had been a reasonably successful passing side into a completely unsuccessful long ball team. Barker had been on some sort of summer camp at Lilleshall where they had persuaded him to change Stoke’s style, and despite protestations from the players, Barker pushed ahead with the change. The results were disastrous. 

It took Barker’s sacking to turn round Stoke’s fortunes. Club hero Alan Hudson returned from a stint abroad (including a spell at Cleveland Force) to help former assistant Bill Asprey save the Potters, and Stoke started to play some more conventional floor-based stuff.

But Stoke still needed a result going into the final day of the season to avoid the drop. In the end, they won comfortably, a brace of penalties from top scorer Paul Maguire helping them to a 4-0 win over already relegated Wolves.

Let us return, though, to that heady summer of 1983, when Ritchie Barker’s mind was full of thoughts like ‘big number 9’, ‘big number 10’, and ‘big number 11’. Ritchie’s vision of how the game should be played was ahead of its time, as although the 1980s was a great time for long ball enthusiasts, it is only now that it has truly found its heartland in the Midlands. And so to Barker we dedicate this clip of the Stoke lads showing the boys from West Ham that it doesn’t matter how it goes in, as long as it has spent a lot of time in the air beforehand.

You might note, by the way, that one of those goals is scored by Mark Chamberlain, father of Arsenal’s Alex Oxlade-etc. The original Chambo had joined Stoke from hated rivals Port Vale. Asked if he had burned any bridges by leaving Vale, Chamberlain replied, “No not really. Mind you, I wouldn’t. I don’t really have any mates”.

Which is definitely strange. After all, in the photo above you can see Chambo modelling the kit itself above. He certainly seems friendly enough, and I for one wouldn’t have minded taking him out for a pint.

Rob Hogg

Is this Stoke’s greatest ever kit?  Let us know on twitter @thefootballsc

Got a shirt to share on the Football Shirt Collective?  Well it is easy; send us a link to them on twitter or use the #myfavouritefootballshirt # tag, upload them to our facebook page, or pin them on our Pinterest board - and we will publish the best in the collective.

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We spoke to TEAMtalk’s Homzy about Mark Stein, purple Stoke shirts and Peter Crouch’s volley. 

What was your first ever football shirt? 

I am certain my first ever shirt was a home shirt sponsored by Fradley Homes in 1990/91 but the earliest I have still got in my possession is the Ansells one from the following season, which you can see at the front of this picture with some of my other shirts from my early years!

What is your favourite ever shirt?

There is only so much you can do with red and white stripes so, as a Stoke fan, my favourite shirts have always been our away ones. We had a cracking green and black striped one with Carling on it during the mid 90s but I think my all-time favourite has to be this purple and white one from 1992.

 Stoke, Asics, 1992

Stoke, Asics, 1992

I associate it with Mark Stein and winning the Autoglass Trophy at Wembley but even now I think it’s a great design. It is just a shame I can’t fit in it anymore!

What is your favourite ever goal? 

The Peter Crouch goal against Man City last season was probably the best I’ve ever seen and there was a Kevin Keen volley in the 95/96 season that I’ll never forget, but I have to say Mark Stein’s first in our 2-1 win over Man Utd in the League Cup in the 93/94 season. That man was unbelievable!  

You can share your classic football shirts by; tagging them to our facebook page, sending us a link to them on twitter, or pinning them on our Pinterest board - and we will publish the best on our blog.

Ever wondered what a bed of Stoke shirts looks like? - courtesy of @Homzy

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