Arsenal kit in each of the previous finals

By Mark Andrews – Stats updated to reflect 1 August 2020

As part of the run up to the FA Cup final we will be looking into various aspects of Arsenal’s rich history with the competition. Today we cover kits worn in finals, which is a yellow tinted updated version of last year’s article to take into account the recent announcement that we will be wearing our change kit

Only 7 minutes but, boy, what 7 minutes they were

Pat Rice and Steve Walford try to catch Alan Sunderland in the final minute of the 1979 FA Cup Final

The Arsenal Colours in FA Cup Finals 1927 – 2020

Year Kit colour Reason Result
1927 Red no clash Lost
1930 Red no clash Won
1932 Red no clash Lost
1936 Red with white sleeves no clash Won
1950 Old Gold clash Won
1952 Red with white sleeves no clash Lost
1971 Yellow/blue clash Won
1972 Red with white sleeves no clash Lost
1978 Yellow/blue clash Lost
1979 Yellow/blue clash Won
1980 Yellow/blue clash Lost
1993 Red with white sleeves (x2) no clash Won
1998 Red with white sleeves no clash Won
2001 Red with white sleeves clash Lost
2002 Red with white sleeves no clash Won
2003 Red with white sleeves clash Won
2005 Red with white sleeves clash Won
2014 Red with white sleeves no clash Won
2015 Yellow/blue clash Won
2017 Red with white sleeves no clash Won
2020 Red with white sleeves no clash Won

The first thing that struck, and also surprised us, is that Arsenal have not worn yellow and blue in an FA Cup final since the awful 1980 fiasco. The only thing worth remembering from that game was the late foul by Willie Young that stopped Paul Allen from scoring. The yellow card he received sent the TV studio into apoplexy, especially Jimmy Hill, and shortly afterwards the footballing authorities decided to alter the professional foul to deny a goal scoring chance to be a red card offence. So, aside from being a huge crowd favourite (cue the songs), Willie Young was also responsible almost single-handedly for a football law change.

Welcome to the big boy's game.

Welcome to the big boy’s game.

The reason that game against West Ham is important, as far as this article goes, is that new evidence gained from working with Simon Shakeshaft and James Elkin on their fantastic The Arsenal Shirt Book shows that Arsenal had actually been drawn as the away team. Instead of going with their traditional claret and blue, the Hammers plumped for their all white away kit. However, as the referee felt that the shorts and sleeves clashed, Arsenal were forced to wear their change kit of yellow and blue.

London Evening Standard 7 May 1980

London Evening Standard 7 May 1980

Due to the longevity of Arsenal’s semi-final with Liverpool taking so long to conclude, the cup final programmes were printed showing both teams due to wear their home kits.

Click on the programme cover to read it

Click on the programme cover to read it

As far as we can see, and as inferred in shewore, one of the main reasons the yellow and blue kit is loved by fans for FA Cup finals is that we wore those colours in the two most exciting finals that Arsenal won in living memory. Firstly, the 1971 game when Charlie George crashed the ball past Ray Clemence in the final few minutes to win the double for the first time, and in 1979 when Alan Sunderland scored in the last minute.

Additionally in the list of  ‘after goal FA Cup final celebrations’ both numbers one and two occurred in these games and were carried out by the respective goalscorers. Another major reason is not FA Cup related, but yellow and blue were the colours when the 1989 League was won in such dramatic circumstances at Anfield 26 years ago.

Nevertheless it is an empirical fact that Arsenal have a better record while wearing the red and white sleeved home shirt, as can be seen in this chart, than the yellow with blue variety. (updated 1 Aug 2020 MA)

Colour Won Lost
Red 1 2
Red and white 9 3
Yellow/blue 3 2
Old gold 1 0
Totals 14 7

Prior to the white sleeves being added in 1933 Arsenal had won the trophy under Herbert Chapman but also lost two finals, so all red was statistically not greatly favoured, even though historically it is of immense importance as the 1930 triumph started off the great 30s side and was the club’s inaugural trophy. Strangely, in 1936 both Arsenal and Sheffield United wore red and white and, while they were different designs, it was surprising that neither team changed, though it was the first FA Cup won in the new red and white sleeved kit.

In 1950 both Arsenal and Liverpool wore change kits: the Gunners wearing a specially commissioned kit with shirts classically called “old gold”. To make sure that the players were used to playing together in this kit before such a big game it was tried in the League game at home to Newcastle two weeks prior to the Cup final. It was an obvious success with Arsenal winning 4-2. The kit was also worn in the home game against title-contenders Portsmouth a few days after the final victory. The players must have wanted to play in this ‘lucky’ kit every week as they won for the third time whilst wearing the old gold.

1950-03-29 DExp Old Golda

Daily Express revealing the strips of both teams

However, this is not the same as the later yellow and blue kit, it was noted specifically by Arsenal as old gold, not yellow, and there was no hint of blue trim, while the shorts were white, and socks hooped black and old gold.

These four left facing cannon crests highlight the core usage of the yellow and blue kit. The reason we changed was quite straightforward in 1971 and 1979, but the reason for the change in 1978 was due to the clash of  shorts with Ipswich as per FA regulations at the time. Arsenal could have worn red shirts with white sleeves and red shorts, but in this instance the club reverted to the away kit. Arsenal had also made this change in the away league game earlier that season. 

The introduction of the AFC cannon balls in the late 70s was a great addition to the famous cannon, and after this specific period, the utilisation of these iconic colours reverted to the tried and trusted and Arsenal played the next seven finals (eight games including the 1993 replay) in the home kit until this coming final.

The yellow and blue is rightly a favourite with fans of a “certain age”, and let’s hope one of the players can conjure up the same magic as Charlie George did in 71 to give us our record breaking 12th final win on 30 May. 


The Arsenal Shirt Crest 1971


The Arsenal Shirt Crest 1978


The Arsenal Shirt Crest 1979


The Arsenal Shirt Crest 1980


AFC postcard 3

Charlie George in 71 by Paine Proffitt


She Wore

The Arsenal Shirt Book

Paine Proffitt


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2 thoughts on “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon: Arsenal Kits in the FA Cup Final – 2015 ver – updated 2020

  1. Jamie on 27 April 2015 at 9:23 pm said:

    The usual thorough, informative and comprehensive article as is the norm on this site!
    Regarding the injury-hit 1978 final, I have seen evidence to disprove that a club policy of a uniform ‘ red-white-red’ look was in place throughout the entire 1977/78 season. Although the away kit did indeed feature on the opening day of the season at a rain-sodden Portman Road, red shorts were used with the home kit on a couple of occasions, the last of which was away to Q.P.R. three days after reaching Wembley.
    The optional shorts may also have been reflected in the fact that the cover illustration on the programme for that year’s particular Cup Final shows red and white ribbons attached to one handle of the cup.

    • Jamie,
      Thanks for your erudite contribution and impelling evidence of red shorts between 75 and 78. We have altered the blog and removed the uniform reference to 78.

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