A history of Town kits: 1990-97

Cod Almighty | Article

by Paul Thundercliffe

4 May 2020

Paul continues his history of Town's kits and part three begins as GTFC's revival under Alan Buckley moves up a gear in the glorious March of 1990.

gtfc 1994

As Town scorched their way through a 100 per cent March of 1990, one of their more underrated kits was quietly introduced. The day before a big home game against Exeter, the back page of the Telegraph had some Town players wearing a new kit, one that would be debuted the very next day.

Garry Birtles

Scoreline had been replaced by Ribero (like a lot of clubs eventually) at a key point of the season. Gone were the white sleeves; stripes all the way with a black circular cross-collar, similar to the EN-S one, but with red and white trim. The Ribero 'tick logo was red, falling on both a black and a white stripe, the Town badge, silhouetted in red, the same.

There was red piping around the shoulder and under the armpit and the socks had two red triangles at each side, a Ribero look at that time. GTFC was still italicised on the shorts and the white socks had two red stripes on the turnover.

Town only wore that Food Town-sponsored home shirt 11 times, but won eight of them, including vital victories against Lincoln, Scunny and Southend. Garry Birtles scored the last goal in that shirt in the 5-1 party against Wrexham.

1990-91 saw just one change to the kit: that of sponsor, as pharmaceutical giant Ciba Geigy adorned the front of the shirt in red writing in a massive white box. The effect on the replica shirt was a raised, almost felt-like, rectangle.

An oddity that year were the Ribero numbers. Sitting resplendent in a white box, the numbers had outlines, little diagonal dashes in the top corner, and Ribero logos at their base. For some games, like Stoke at home, the numbers were black. In other instances, as in the promotion win against Exeter, they were red.

Ribero resplendent again then for a second promotion and a brand worn by nineteen other clubs that year, more than a fifth of all teams in the Football League.Cockers 1991

Town had two more Ribero home kits. Both very different and striking. The 1991-92 number had white sleeves and shoulders, separated from the stripes by red piping. The piping fed into the collar which was the same style as the season before but with black Ribero ticks between two red tram lines.

King of the Backheel in Ribero

For the first time, the back and white stripes were joined by red pinstripes, subtly adjoining the back pillars on the shirt. The Ciba Geigy sponsor was now without a box, the black writing outlined by white. Strangely, this worked. The shorts had an inverted isosceles triangle down each side filled with red and white horizontal stripes, and the Town badge was back.

The white socks had a red turnover, with a white stripe and a black Ribero logo. It was worn with panache in the League Cup against Villa and Tottenham that year and was the last Town kit to have short shorts.

Umbro and Tottenham had re-introduced longer shorts in the 1991 Cup Final, and it took manufacturers a while to catch up. Town's first longer style shorts accompanied an interesting Ribero design, their last for the club.

This was the first kit to have a button-down collar and the first to have an actual collar (white with black and red trim) since 1981. The base of the shirt was exactly the same as the previous season, with the red pinstripe detail, but where before there was white there were now horizontal stripes on the shoulder and - controversially - on the sleeves, giving the shirt an almost rugby-style look.Clive 1992

Those baggier shorts had side panels that mimicked the shoulders and sleeves, with a mixture of vertical and horizontal stripes. The socks were unable to match the rest of the kit, white with a thin red stripe on the bottom of the turnover and a red Ribero tick.

If that kit was slightly different, what was to come the next year raised many an eyebrow in DN35.

Ribero kits had dwindled in the early nineties; Matchwinner was now the doyen of the lower leagues. An old favourite was making a comeback of sorts and Town teamed up with four other clubs in 1993-94 by welcoming Admiral back to Cleethorpes.

Anyone hoping for a remake of the 1979 kit was in for a shock when Town revealed their new shirt: it was essentially white.

True, there were some thin black stripes (actually there were five thicker pin stripes, with thinner ones either side) but it looked white from the stands. Another button-down collar, this time red with an italicised embroidered GTFC on the left hand side, and huge red bands on each white sleeve.

The shirt had Admiral-based "watermarks" throughout, the watermark design used prodominately by Umbro in the early 1990s.

It was a curious kit in many ways, not least because of the different versions that existed - some with the red Admiral logo on one stripe, others with it higher up, some embroidered, some not. It was also the first ever shirt where the sponsor was sublimated into the shirt, the shortened 'CIBA' being proof that these were, without doubt, absolutely bespoke.Futch 1993

The shorts were black with a clumsy white band around the left leg with black turnovers and red Admiral detail finishing off the white socks.

Thankfully, thicker stripes returned in August 1994 as a new kit manufacturer, the Italian giant Diadora, rocked into Town. By this time, shirts were baggy: I'm sure you could only get this shirt in XL. It was another button-down white collar, this time with two buttons, that flashed red when open, particularly by Shaun Teale.

The badge and red Diadora logos were in prime position on the black stripes, but strangely, the felt/flock crest and logo were surrounded by white, almost as if Diadora weren't quite sure how big to make the space when designing the shirt.

There was a subtle Diadora wallpaper sheen throughout, black stripes on the sleeve, tapered by a thick red cuff. The shorts were black and baggy, finished off with a red cuff and white Diadora logo, but no badge. The socks were white, with a white Diadora on the red turnover.

Interestingly, Town were the first English club to wear Diadora and this exclusivity continued the next season, the first without Buckley at the helm at its start since 1987.

Ciba had gone, replaced once more with Europe's Food Town. This time the sponsor was in white writing on a black rectangle. The shirt had a cleaner feel, with thinner stripes than previously, a red Diadora logo, a smaller badge and black collar and cuffs.Ivano

The shorts were all black, save for a red pinstripe around each leg and a black turnover on a white sock. This, of course, was the Bonetti shirt, worn with style and then, presumably used to mop up blood at Kenilworth Road. Although the kit was manufactured by Diadora, it was another Italian designer, Lotto, that graced hoardings at Blundell Park that year.

Whether this was down to Ivano and his image rights I'm not sure, but I'm not into coincidences. Lo and behold, Lotto were kit makers at the start of 1996-97, although Bonetti had buggered off to Tranmere.

The Lotto kit was a clean effort, modelled on the Kappa Juventus kit of the same period. It had a simple, effective black and white elasticated V neck with white collar and black trim. The Food Town logo remained, the small "Europe's" being the only red. Black and white striped sleeves with a white cuff finished off the shirt, which was worn with black shorts and big white side panels.

The socks were again white with black turnovers and a black Lotto symbol.

The kit was better than the team, as a first relegation in nine years was accomplished. As the likes of Oster and Mendonca left, Buckley returned, got some of the band back together and set about finishing the job he started. It would take, however, another mid-season kit change to herald the greatest chapter in the club's history.

Images courtesy of GTFC, thanks to Jack Johnson for arranging permission.