Desert Island Kits: My Shirt Stories and Tom Williams Top Kits

The desert island kit series seems to have been a huge success, with many of your out there firm fans of kits, even if they’re not Lincoln.

I have been keen to take part in this series, but I already did my top five Lincoln kits and I didn’t feel like simply churning out the same content. If you missed them originally, I did my pick of the best away shirts from my collection here, I can’t actually locate my favourite home kits article though, but it is out there, I’m sure.

Also, I didn’t want to just rattle off my favourite kits from other teams. Colin Green had one of my personal favourites, QPR’s Guinness kit from the eighties, but again it didn’t feel all that personal to me. Instead, my desert island kits feature five kits I have owned, at some point and the interesting stories behind them all. I do have six by the way, my apologies, but I couldn’t leave out the Luton one even though the story isn’t quite the same as the others.

On page two, we’ve got Classic Football Kits’ Tom Williams delivering his all-time favourites, which for now wraps up the mini-series.

Argentina World Cup 1998

Yes, I bought this shirt. I say I bought it, I was going out with a girl at the time who offered to buy me any shirt in the sports shop we went in back in spring 1998. I had the Lincoln shirt of the era, obviously, but I wanted another kit to play in down the park in Wragby. I could have chosen the England shirt, but at the time I felt the kit was uninspiring. I also knew we were rivals with the likes of Argentina, but up close this kit oozed beauty. The pale blue and white stripes looked gorgeous close up (if you could forget whose they were), with the gold trim setting everything off nicely.

I quickly realised the error of my way the first time I turned up for a kickabout with Dayle Rowson, Matt Warr and a few other mates. Firstly, the badge was solid and chafed my nipple really badly, to a point where I had some mild swelling. That would have been a major problem, had I not found another drawback; I had made myself a target. I was, for want of a better word, weak and crap at football, so proper players such as Dayle didn’t go in that hard on me. Now I wore the colours of Diego Maradona, it was no holds barred. Three tackles in, after being slammed into the tennis court fence twice and hacked down full pelt from behind, I went home.

I did try to play squash in it a few times, but still had a chafed nipple so, in the end, I gave the shirt to charity.

Inter Milan 3rd Shirt 1991

This was one of the first non-Lincoln shirts I chose to buy. Like many others in this series, I was taken in by the Italian football we’d seen on TV after Gazza’s move and I decided I wanted the kit of Inter Milan. The blue and black stripes had the same sort of appeal as the Argentina kit; I think I have a thing for the opposite colours to Lincoln. Because I’m almost forced to wear red and white, I see true beauty in the opposite colours. You’ll notice throughout this series, few Imps’ fans have chosen other red and white shirts.

Anyway, this was a cheap option at a five-a-side tournament we went to. I’d never seen them play in it, still haven’t to this day, plus they only had XL and my teenage frame was more like ‘pigeon chested’, so I swanned around in this for a few years looking like a bit that had dropped off a real footballer. I think my last outing in it came when Craig Rowson, brother of my aggressor in the Argentina shirt experience, remarked that ‘Fitgar’ was a bit like ‘Fit Gary’, which no girls said, ever. I binned it off after that.

Luton Town Home Shirt 1991

Let’s be right about this, the Luton shirt of the era wasn’t the most fetching of them all. Their ‘Bedford’ shirts were far more attractive and easy on the eye, whilst this looked like a child’s drawing had been smudged. It didn’t matter, at the start of the nineties I still had a fondness for Luton and whilst everyone else had top-flight shirts on down the park, I felt I wanted one too. One day, after returning from a five-a-side (my Dad managed Wragby Boys and in the summer attended five or six tournaments), my Mum told me she’d got me a Luton shirt. I was delighted, thinking it was this one.

It wasn’t, it was a knock-off with a hat for a badge and no sponsor. I still have it, for some reason. Still, it could have been worse, I could have worn this for a Rowson-kicking.

Siena Away 2007

This Italian shirt wasn’t inspired by any TV programme, it was inspired by a trip to Tuscany. We stayed just outside Siena and as you do when you’re away, I decided to adopt the local team. They weren’t playing during our trip, but I vowed to grab a shirt when I returned home. They played in black and white stripes, a nice shirt and one I thought would save me from kickings. We’d progressed from the park now, Dayle, Matt and Craig were all far too good for me, so I played with some lads from work at Yarborough.

I found this by chance ion eBay, their second kit (I always ended up with the non-iconic ones). I wore it a few times, but like the Argentina shirt of 1998, it had a nipple chafing badge. Maybe it’s something to do with my nipple? Anyway, I started to wear a T-Shirt under it and only really sported it whilst playing squash. One day, someone asked me whose shirt it was and I proudly exclaimed ‘Siena’, trying to be achingly hipster before hipster was a thing, only to find out they’d gone bankrupt.

West Ham Away 1991

I did have this shirt for a while and I wish I still did; one went for £200 on eBay the other week. I got rid of mine back in the nineties when, after forgetting dad’s birthday, Paul and I made him a ‘Man Utd hating kit’ using old programmes and this old West Ham shirt. I’d wager he doesn’t still have it, so we’ve both lost out.

How did I get it? Well, like a proper little skip rat, I used to go through the lost property at school whenever I could looking for football kits. I only ever found one; this one. I knew who it belonged to as well, a kid a couple of years above me. I might have given him it back, only he was good looking, always had a nice girl in tow and I hated that. He was olive-skinned, had dark hair and that smouldering Mediterranean thing that women love. I was pale, ginger and my feet used to sweat a lot. Still, at least I had his shirt, even if I did hide it in a drawer until giving it to Dad in case the kid saw me and I got a slap.

Yugoslavia 1991/92

Image result for yugoslavia shirt 1991

Genuinely, I have little idea why I had this. It was a medium and I loved the deep blue; it reminded me of the Imps’ away kit in the early nineties. I would imagine it came from a five-a-side stall again, possibly the one at Nettleham’s Mulsanne Park. I remember these shirts being flogged off for a fiver each at one event or another and Dad said I could get one, so I picked this. I’d seen the Yugoslavia team in the World Cup of 1990 and just loved the colour and style of their kit.

I imagine by the time I wore this, Yugoslavia was no longer a thing, but I didn’t care. Kids used to ask me which team it was and I lied and told them it was my fantasy team’s kit that I’d had made. The gullible ones believed me.

Sadly, the only one of these shirts I still have is the Siena one. I only ever felt Lincoln ones were worth keeping I suppose, but it does warm me to know that somewhere out there, a guy found my Argentina shirt in a charity shop and experienced really painful nipples rash whenever he wore it.