BLOG | The Luck of the Irish

(Posted on 17/03/17)

St. Patrick’s Day - A day of celebrating a nation of culture, beauty and heritage.

Once a year it comes along where we all go just a shade green to remember and embrace everything Irish, and we here at Vintage Football Shirts we are now different.

The Republic of Ireland is known for such elite sportsman in Gaelic Football, Rugby and of course Horse Racing. But the football team can sometimes slip under the radar when not competing in a major tournament.

Northern Ireland are also huge lovers of football with a superb up-and-coming international team with the likes of Jonny Evans, Chris Brunt and Kyle Lafferty.

Internationally the sport is loved with such superstars as Robbie Keane, Shane Long and Shay Given who left their mark on the Premier League.

In terms of the Irish Premiership’s things are a little different, rather overlooked many of Ireland’s top talents go on to play across the Irish sea but talent is in abundance and many remain in their native country. Back in 2011 Glentoran’s Matthew Burrows was nominated for a Puskas award for this superb goal (below).

Meanwhile the women aren’t bad either, with this superb strike from Stephanie Roche for Peamount United. The Dublin born international put the woman’s game on the map in 2015.

The traditional green is known throughout the world, and the internationals aren’t any different however it wasn’t always the case when it comes to Northern Ireland. They started with St. Patrick’s Blue with dated back to Norman times and didn’t convert to green so often associated with republicanism until later on.

It was only around 1900 that they changed to the strip of green shirts, white shorts and black socks but they would have the odd year back in the blue shirts. Both sides broke away to form the FAI in 1922 and in the 30’s both wore shamrocks and changed to green permanently to avoid kit changes when playing Scotland, although some believed there was political motivation to the switch.

In 1953 they began playing as Northern Ireland rather than just Ireland and reverted to the cross as their crest. A year later they changed their baggy style of kit to a more modern approach for the time and would keep a fairly similar style experimenting with different collars until 1975. The away shirt was white throughout the history and it was in 1975 that they had their first shirt designer in Umbro.

Two years with Umbro was followed by adidas in 1977 with the first signs of experimentation, as the classic stripes down the arms appeared and would remain until 1999.

Patrick would take over and completely change the design with a navy kit between 1999-2001 as their away shirt.

Another stint with Umbro before the current adidas deal came which see’s the Northern Ireland kits of old return with a modern flourish.

In terms of the Republic of Ireland things were similar in the early stages. In 1922 when they broke away they were formed as the Irish Free State but the British Football Assosiations boycotted playing them and would not meet them until they became the Republic of Ireland in 1937.

This is where it gets complicated – Both ROI and Northern Ireland’s sides were known as Ireland and players could be picked for both sides, but were both separate sides in their own respect. Up to 38 players played for both national teams.

In 1954 they went back to becoming known as the Republic of Ireland and the Shamrock remained their crest in the traditional green shirts, white shorts and green socks we know today right up until a trip to Paris in 1973. They were due to travel to the French capital but rumours circled that someone from the FAI forgot to pack the kit and so the French kitted them out with an all green adidas strip.

Their second was during a time on tour of South America a year later where kits were designed by Brazilian company Athetica. The first contract taken out in the revolution of football shirts was O’Neil’s lasting a decade which saw the experimentation with thin white stripes vertically.

Next was adidas, a huge presence in both camps but iconic for the Republic as they reached the 1990 World Cup in Italy and in 1994 in the USA.

They picked up shirt sponsors in Opel, a rarity for international sides to have such a deal on their shirts. Umbro was the design in the late 90’s with shirt sponsors Eirecom coming in at the turn of the Millennium and remaining for ten years seeing them into the 2002 World Cup.

Umbro remain the suppliers to this day with the more modern approach and added orange on the collar to include the countries full colours.

And on this day of all days, they really should be showing their colours. 

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