Arsenal kit in each of the previous finals
By Mark Andrews
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
The Arsenal Colours in FA Cup Finals 1927 – 2015
|1936||Red with white sleeves||no clash||Won|
|1952||Red with white sleeves||no clash||Lost|
|1972||Red with white sleeves||no 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|
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.
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.
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.
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.
|Red and white||7||3|
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.
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.
- Woolwich Arsenal: The club that changed football – Arsenal’s early years
- The Crowd at Woolwich Arsenal – crowd behaviour at the early matches
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