Imps Hit The Mark As New Shirt Drops

Football shirts have gained such importance over the past few seasons. Once upon a time, last season’s shirt was a cast-off, something to do the decorating in. Now, it slowly accumulates value. 

People pour over the minor details, clubs release three or four kits to try to tempt you to open your wallet and, like all art, the beauty is often in the eye of the beholder. No kit is ever called wonderful by everyone. Some are so awful on the eye that they become memorable instantly. With kits, you could say no publicity is bad publicity, and some woeful kits have become cult classics. There’s still hope for the 2018/19 shirt yet!

Cult classic, or best seller? – Courtesy Graham Burrell

Today, we got an early release of our 2023/23 shirt. It’s made by a new manufacturer, Oxen, featuring the same sponsor as last season, Branston. We had a tease yesterday, and it hasn’t taken long for the new shirt to drop. Dare I say, part of the reason we’ve got an early release could be the supplier – no waiting around on Italy to send things over, and no email chains debating design to hold the process up. It’s mad to think we’ve not yet had the FA Cup final, and the Imps’ new kit has dropped. Of course, it isn’t rare if you go back over history; I can recall us playing on the final day of one season in the following season’s kit. I think. Maybe I dreamed that.

Anyway, you’ve seen it already, but here is our 2023/24 shirt.

Credit Chris Vaughan

Several things strike me immediately. Firstly, there are two versions of the Imp on the kit, the old-style Imp as seen in the cathedral, and the simplified, late eighties Imp that either reminds you of relegations in 1986 and 1987, or of promotion in 1988. I joined the Imps family properly in 1986, this Imp was on my first shirt, the one I wore the day we beat Wycombe 2-1 to get promoted back to the league. For me, it is the classic Imps badge. What I would say is it feels like we’re slowly migrating towards the old badge, but tearing the plaster off very slowly indeed.

The kit itself has strong 1992/93 vibes in terms of the trim. I really like the black on the arms, and whilst a V-collar isn’t for me, I think it complements the shirt really nicely. The shoulders might be a bit too busy from the side, but it adds a sufficiently different element from last season.

I’m also a fan of us remaining dedicated to red and white stripes, although, as I often get told by my mate Pete, it’s not really striped if the back is solid red, as it is. I do almost agree – I’d love to see us have stripes back and front, with a white panel for the black number to be printed on. Again, little things are all down to personal preference.

I also hear the badge is now embroidered on, rather than ironed on, which means I won’t fear putting the shirt through more than three washes. I barely wore the last two seasons’ shirts for fear of losing the badge, and whilst I have got into the habit of not wearing a shirt, others like to have something that lasts.

You can’t judge a shirt just from the images – the quality of the fabric is a big talking point these days, as is the general fit. It is interesting to note there is now a ‘women’s fit’ shirt to order as well, which is a big step forward for our female fanbase.

The shirt won’t appeal to everyone. If, in 12 months’ time, we’re fresh off the back of a top-ten finish, it will have more fans than right now. If we’re in League Two, it will have fewer. For some (such as Fe), it is ‘just red and white stripes’. For others, it is the latest exciting instalment in our club history, an early glimpse into what could be an exciting season at Sincil Bank.

Me? I love a kit launch, but I don’t always love a kit. Without having it in my hand, I’ll reserve overall judgement, but the design and elements, such as early drop and women’s fit, seem to make this one of the better launches we’ve had in a long time. The Oxen era has certainly started strongly.

Also, as a footnote, the three players who launched the kit, Ben House, Ethan Erhahon and Paudie O’Connor, are the spine of our team for next season. That little touch has not gone unnoticed. I think Lincoln City mean business this season.