Desert Island Kits – Roy Thomson takes us to Peru and back

Courtesy Graham Burrell

I’m not really a football kit connoisseur and don’t hold a big collection but thought I’d write about a few kits that mean something personal to me, writes Roy Thomson.

Peru 1978

Once Voted Best Kit in the World, Peru's Iconic Jerseys Might ...

Argentina 78 is the first World Cup I can remember. Due to England’s failure to qualify, it was a tournament that saw many people in the UK get behind what turned out to be a vastly overrated Scotland side. In a time when you could reveal you wanted a rival win without fear of being condemned as plastic on social media, I settled down with Mum and Dad to watch Ally McLeod’s men more than likely batter an unfancied Peru side. When Joe Jordan slotted home early in the first half, all seemed to be going to plan.

However, a team boasting players with exotic names like Oblitas, Cubillas and Cueto then proceeded to tear the Scots apart.

As a nine-year-old, I’d never seen such quick intricate, attacking, possession-based football. The kit also seemed like it was from another planet, an all-white affair with a red sash across the front of the shirt and the famous Adidas three stripes on the sleeves.

Peru eventually went out in the second round to Argentina in controversial circumstances, but that team and their kit left a lasting impression on a young football fanatic.

Nottingham Forest 1980

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In four incredible years, Brian Clough and his assistant Peter Taylor took Nottingham Forest from the old Second Division to double European Cup winners via a First Division title and a couple of League Cups wearing this classic red Adidas shirt.

Dad was a big Forest fan and worshipped Clough, and the sight of this kit always brings back happy memories. I loved sitting down with him to watch their rise and success on Match of the Day, Star Soccer, Sportsnight and Midweek Sports Special.

My Dad’s favourite two players were John Robertson and Kenny Burns. Robertson was a chubby little left-winger with no pace who loved a fag at half-time and lived on kebabs and burgers, but my god could he play.

His career was going nowhere before Clough arrived at the City Ground. But, after a sprinkle of Clough and Taylor magic, Robertson became arguably the best player in Europe. A two-footed freak of nature who could beat two players in five yards and ping over unplayable crosses.

Burns, on the other hand, was the muscle in the team. His tackles were ferocious, perhaps best illustrated by his welcome to Kevin Keegan in the first few minutes of the 1980 European Cup Final. Clough turned Burns from an average centre forward with a bad reputation at Birmingham City into one of the best centre-halves on the continent. His partnership with Larry Lloyd was at times unbreachable, and Dad loved some of the rumours about his less than professional off-field activities almost as much as his uncompromising efforts on it.

A classic Adidas shirt, worn by some great players and a reminder of great childhood times.

Lincoln City 1984/85

(Middle kit) Credit – Lincoln City Football Club

I loved this kit, and it probably marks the years I became a proper Imp. I began going in 1983 to watch the great side of Peake, Cockerill, Hobson and Shipley, quite possibly attracted to Sincil Bank by the prospect of a bit of local glory.

However, that fantastic side was unfortunately broken up far too early, and results got progressively worse during the mid-1980s. Players like Jack, Thomas, Houghton and Walker proved themselves to be no match for the lads that moved on, many if not all, to clubs in the top division. The interesting thing was I kept going, I can’t explain why, there was no life-changing epiphany, it just became a massive part of my life, and nearly forty years later it still is.

This kit replaced the iconic Adidas effort so beloved of many Imps fans. However, for me, this effort means more because it represents a time that I somehow connected with the club and slowly realised I was an Imp for life.

Lincoln City 2006/7

Courtesy Graham Burrell

This shirt is special because it is the first one I bought my son. He was nine or ten and starting to get really into his football, but being born down south and keen on everything to do with the Premier League and Arsenal, he hated it when I informed him we were going to watch the Imps. I had split up with his mum when he was very young, and I initially found it tough being a weekend Dad. My hope was he’d start to enjoy our trips, but it was difficult, and I was greeted with the usual scowl when I told him we were off to Underhill to watch Lincoln play Barnet.

Walking out after we’d watched Frecklington, Stallard and Forrester play some of the best football I’d ever seen Lincoln produce away from home, something extraordinary happened. He looked up at me, asked me a few questions about Forrester and then somewhat sheepishly requested a Lincoln shirt for Christmas.

Yes, I know all the anoraks will be saying Lincoln played in away colours that day, but this is the shirt I dispatched my mum to buy from the club shop and get signed by all the players so I could present it to him on Boxing Day after our traditional Christmas journey up to Nettleham. A proud Dad moment.

Lincoln City (away) 2016/17

Courtesy Graham Burrell

I’m not really an avid kit buyer but wish I’d have bought this one as it was the shirt the Imps donned in two of my favourite ever away days, Burnley and Gateshead.

Burnley was such an unbelievable day. The only haze like feeling of disbelief I experienced at the final whistle I can compare it too is the feeling of waking up every day to the realisation the world is in total lockdown because of a fast-spreading virus.

However, Gateshead was even better because I experienced it with my lad. He was now twenty, and there was a sense of anticipation rather than a scowl when he joined me early in the morning for the long drive north from Cambridge. To share with him the jubilation of Rheady’s penalty and Arnold’s volley remains a memory I will treasure forever.