A history of Town kits: 1980-84

Cod Almighty | Article

by Paul Thundercliffe

7 April 2020

Admiral, Adidas and Hobott designed some of Town's best kits, to dress one of Town's best teams. Paul Thundercliffe starts his history of the Grimsby strip

Town kits 1980-84

Football shirts are ultimately the way to work out which team is which during a match. Kept relatively simple for almost 90 years, they have evolved over time to embrace fashions and trends while still identifying your team.

These days, football shirts are big business, with clubs like Town relying on selling a few thousand tops as a real revenue spinner, particularly with having an away shirt and rarely worn third shirt too. Also attracting a lot of money are retro shirts, with Town going to market recently with 1988 and 1984 remakes, and a controversial unlicensed remake of the Adidas 1982 top shipping from Australia. If you’re fortunate to own any originals, or especially player-issued shirts, these can go for a pretty penny, although they are harder to find as the replica market only really mushroomed in the 1990s.

Town are now synonymous with black and white stripes, although this wasn't always the case. The team first wore a blue and white hooped effort, before morphing into a claret and blue halved shirt which incorporated the council arms. Chocolate and blue quarters followed at the turn of the 20th century, with the first black and white striped shirt debuting in 1910, complete with a laced collar and white shorts. The shorts changed to black a few years later and Town challenged at the top end of the footballing pyramid in rarely-changing kits.

After the second world war, black socks replaced red and a "warm weather kit", all red collar and short sleeves, was seen in the mid-to-late 1950s. The 1960s saw a boom in fashion nationally and had Town dressed in 'candy' stripes for much of the decade: thin black stripes on a white top. That was interrupted for a couple of years by a white shirt, black collar and red short combo.

The 1970s saw a return to the broader stripes in a kit that soon adopted white sleeves for most of the period. The first manufactured shirt was made by Bukta - the kind of thing you would buy for PE from Norris the Rubberman, with the Town badge adorning an Admiral-created effort in 1978. This top was worn as Town won successive promotions in 1979 and 1980: an apt time to pick up a more detailed history of the Town shirt.

Part one: 1980-1984 

Deano in Roy of the Rovers
That Admiral kit was adorned with Town’s first shirt sponsor, the Findus flag appearing just below the logo on the right breast. The white collar added depth to the shirt, and the black shorts and red socks complimented a smart team with a smart look. As Town smashed into the second division, the Findus logo changed to a red vertical 'fuzzy-felt' lettering, sponsorship that was replicated on Town’s next kit, thought to be maybe the best ever.

Adidas were a global company by 1981, making international kits for West Germany and Holland. Their foray into domestic football, saw them provide the kits for Nottingham Forest’s European exploits and also service a number of other Football League clubs. Each kit was different, with the unmistakable three lines on the shoulders and the classic trefoil logo.

Their Town effort was simple yet stunningly effective. A thick red V-necked collar was supported by three broad black stripes, the "adidas" in red and a Town badge patch. The Adidas three stripes actually began at the start of the shoulder, flowing down the white sleeve before ending with a thick red cuff.

Town at Charlton 1982

The shorts - black with three red stripes - and new white socks with three red stripes on the turnover finished off a sleek new look. In retrospect I wonder if red stripes on the shirt sleeves as well would have finished it off a little more but a classic nonetheless.

The second and final Adidas season saw a subtle change to the top, the three stripes now reaching from the collar to the sleeve cuff, and a new Times Roman red Findus logo sitting vertically across the front on a white background.

With Town punching above their weight in the second division, they unveiled a new strip for the 1983-84 season. It was manufactured by a true giant of lower league football, Hobott. Originating in the late 1970s in South Yorkshire, the kit makers launched from the House of Barrington sports shop in Sheffield. Hobott actually stands for "House of Barrington Official Teamster Top" and was presented in a sleek logo, an ascending capitalised "Hobott" encased by two corner quadrants.

If Adidas was all about the three stripes then Hobott’s USP was two parallel lines running from the collar to the armpit of the shirt on both sides, about two inches from the top. On their first Town shirt, Hobott placed two red lines to compliment the stripes, which were now a little narrower, with a white stripe in the middle.

Paul Emson 1983
The black Hobott logo sat on the right breast and a now fully stitched Town badge - a little smaller than previously lay on the left. The V-necked collar had a thicker red edge, followed by a thinner white and black V with the rest white.

There were now stripes on the sleeves which were very short and ended with elasticated cuffs in the same design as the collar. The Findus sponsor's logo was as the previous season.

The shorts had five thin stripes on each side - white, red, black, red and white - while the white socks had four hoops of red, black, red and back on the turnover. Put simply, this gorgeous effort looked sleek on the pitch and remains one of Town’s best ever home shirts.

In Part 2 we’ll look at how the design was tweaked, with two versions often being worn on the pitch.