Strip Club–Mileage Edition
The summer of 2003 saw the dawn of a new era for the Blaugrana, with a new president and a new coach. Laporta and Rijkaard came on to the scene and laid the foundation for future success that continues today. I was fortunate to get a glimpse of the new team when they played Manchester United in Philly that summer as part of their pre-season tour. Unfortunately the squad was wearing the khaki kit, one of Nike’s many away strip misfires over the years.
In researching this season in particular, I was struck by the transfer dealings. Ronaldinho, Davids, Marquez and van Brockhourst were brought in while Iniesta, Valdes and Oleguer were all promoted. With the exception of Davids, these players were key to the back to back league wins the following two years and the 2006 Champions League Final triumph. And look at the players that left the club that year: Frank de Boer, Geovanni, Fabregas and Riquelme, plus one my favorite player names—Trashorras. The Dutchman tailed off but the other three had decent runs in new destinations.
Rijkaard’s first season in charge ended without a trophy. (Read Graham Hunter’s excellent book Barca: The Making of the Worlds’ Greatest Team about the difficulties the Dutch coach faced early in his tenure.) Valencia won their second title in four years, with Barca finishing five points behind, but this was an improvement on their sixth place the year before. Because of that finish, FCB played in the UEFA Cup instead of the Champions League. A heroic effort by Celtic goalkeeper Marshall and a solitary goal by Thompson saw the Hoops move on to the quarter-finals. Success was not found in the Copa either, as Real Zaragoza scored late in the second leg to advance to the semis with a 2-1 aggregate win.
The home jersey for this season was a variation on the centenary jersey, using the navy blue shoulders with blaugrana stripes across the chest.
The shorts for the strip were more of a royal blue instead of the navy blue used four years earlier. Finally the socks featured the blaugrana stripes.
The jersey, which is relatively light, is a little too big for my liking. A shame because I really like it, but eBay provided me a pretty decent knock off for super cheap. This jersey was the end of a spring buying spree which saw me buy the Real Madrid Home and Away jerseys from that season and the Holland Euro 2004 Home and Away jerseys. My son had just been born and I realized that I needed to be a little more responsible with my purchases.
Special thanks for to Colours of Football for the graphics.