Posts Tagged ‘ West Ham United ’

Turf Wars: A History of London Football

Turf Wars: A History of London Football

This book went on my wish list and moved to the top of the pile when a copy ended up in my hands thanks to a huge Chelsea supporter.

The premise of the book is daunting as is stated in the title: A History of London Football. The author is very comprehensive, taking the reader from the early days of the pre-cursors of the Football League in the 19th century all the way to the 2015/16 season. There are even clubs in there that I had never heard of before.

I have to admit that the book can be a little dry at times. Covering over a 125 years of football is a big ask. Besides the nomadic nature of most clubs in the early, the book touches on key moments, either of a club’s location or success on the pitch. The first two-thirds or so would take multiple readings for me as I am not as familiar with those times but the last section of the 90s to the most recent seasons was really interesting.

Not a book for everyone. I might have focused more on the big teams, but if you want an expansive history of football played in London, this is the book for you.


For more book review, check out my Recommended Reading page.

An American’s Guide to Soccer in England


An American’s Guide to Soccer in England

English groundhopper Paul Gerald came back on the SoccerNomad podcast to recap his latest trip to the UK. Paul hit Watford, Tottenham, West Ham, Bristol and others as he gathers material for his upcoming book, An American’s Guide to Soccer in England. Paul provided some great insight and tips for fans interesting in going to matches. He plans to have his book out in the summer of 2017, so keep an eye out for it. In the meantime, check out his blog English Soccer Guide and follow him on twitter @authorpaulg.


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Claret and Blue


(pic courtesy of Castleberry Hill AC)

While interviewing members of the Castleberry Hill Athletic Club for the SoccerNomad podcast, I asked, “What was the inspiration of your colors?” I assumed they had fans of Aston Villa or West Ham in their numbers (didn’t figure there were too many Burnley fans running around Atlanta), but was told, “We just liked the colors.” This led to a discussion about teams who wore claret and blue which caused me to start researching the history of that color combination.

Based on my research, I found four English teams that use claret and blue for their home strips and another one that used the combination in their past. I also discovered several Irish teams and even a Turkish team that wear these colors.

Note: updated in 2020 starting with Colorado Rapids


According to the sources I used, Aston Villa were the original wearers of this color combination. The Villains wore several different colors ahead of their adoption of claret and blue in the late 1880s. John Chandler author of the wonderful book Picking up the Threads, chimes in with: “The style of having contrasting body and sleeves was introduced in the late 19th century by Ollie Whateley.  The distinctive design became very successful and it was often referred to as the Villa style.”


(image courtesy of Historical Football Kits, Aston Villa 1890/91)


(image courtesy of Historical Football Kits, Aston Villa 2016/17)


West Ham United started their history as Thames Ironworks in navy blue (released as a special shirt for the 16/17 season). The club even used a royal blue shirt for a couple of seasons but at the turn of century the team adopted their current name. The new color scheme for the team may have arisen from a bet or the company’s colors or a little bit of both. The original shirt for 1900 was sky blue and a claret band was added across the middle of the shirt the following year. In 1903 a claret shirt with light blue sleeves was introduced (as well was the sky blue yoke similar to Aston Villa) and has been used in some form to this day for the Hammers.


(image courtesy of Historical Football Kits, West Ham United 1901-1903)


(image courtesy of Historical Football Kits, West Ham United 2016/17)


Burnley’s color palette and shirt design was all over the place for about twenty years, including a white/sky blue horizontal half and half top, a white shirt with a navy blue sash, and shirts with black and amber vertical stripes, pink and white vertical stripes and even a red jersey. In 1900 the club switched to a green shirt, which they used for almost a decade. One of the first yo yo teams of English football, Burnley chose claret and blue sometime between 1910 and 1911, inspired by the success of Aston Villa or possibly because, as John Chandler notes, “green was once considered an unlucky color.” Something happened because the club won their first FA Cup in 1914.


(image courtesy of Historical Football Kits, Burnley 1910-1915)


(image courtesy of Historical Football Kits, Burnley 2016/17)


The story of the Scunthorpe United is a little confusing. A combination of two teams created Scunthorpe United in 1899, then that team merged with North Lindsey United in 1910 to form Scunthorpe and Lindsey United. With me so far? Eventually the club became Scunthorpe United in 1958.

North Lindsey United had been wearing a claret body/light blue sleeved/light blue yoke shirt similar to West Ham and Aston Villa in the early 1900s and the newly formed club used this for the first couple of years before switching to vertical stripes of claret and sky blue from 1913-1923. The club nicknamed The Iron reverted to their original design and this took them to 1959 when the team switched to a white shirt with blue or white shorts and white socks for a decade before changing to an all red strip until 1982. Normal service was resumed in the 82/83 season.


(image courtesy of Historical Football Kits, Scunthrope and Lindsey United 1911-1913)


(image courtesy of Historical Football Kits, Scunthorpe United 2016/17)


John Devlin, author/illustrator of the True Colours books on football kits, reminded me that Crystal Palace have also used claret and blue in their kits. This was news to me so I did a little research. The London based club was formed by workers of the Crystal Palace Exhibition and the Eagles have explored all four divisions of English Football during their history and have finished as FA Cup Runners Up twice (1990 and 2016). Turns out Aston Villa helped sort out the club in terms of their kit in the early days. Based on images at Historical Kits, the kits of the two teams were identical from 1905, when Palace was founded, until 1908, when Palace starting tweaking their strip, something that remains to this day.

I have to say that few clubs that I have encountered have undergone as many changes as Crystal Palace. The claret body and pale blue sleeve/white shorts scheme was used until 1937 when claret and pale blue vertical stripes were introduced. That look lasted one season and then the club switched to some sort of white shirt and black shorts until 1963 except for a brief return to the standard from 1949-1954. After that the kit design and color palette was all over the place and I’ll just leave it right there.


(image courtesy of Historical Football Kits, Crystal Palace 1905-1907)


(image courtesy of Historical Football Kits, Crystal Palace 2016/17)


Drogheda United FC are another team wearing the claret and blue. The club play in the League of Ireland and were originally founded in 1919 as Drogheda United. In 1962 another team was founded called Drogheda FC and eventually the two teams merged in 1975 to create Drogheda United FC. The Drogs have had recent success winning the FAI Cup in 2005 and the League of Ireland in 2007.


(pic courtesy of Drogheda United FC)


Twitter follower Sean Dwyer (@Doug_Groovy) brought the Cobh Ramblers to my attention. Formed in 1922, not much to highlight in the club’s history except a run to the FAI Cup Semi-Finals in 1983.  Cobh finally got to the top division of Irish football in 1988 and have enjoyed four seasons in the top flight. Manchester United legend Roy Keane played for the club during the 1989/90 season before his move to Nottingham Forrest.

16/7/2016. EE Sport. Action from the SSE Airtricity League in the Markets Field between Limerick FC and Cobh Ramblers. Our photograph shows Cobh’s Anthony O’Donnell in action with Limerick’sStephen Kenny. (With Compliments) Photograph Liam Burke/Press 22

(pic courtesy of Limerick Post, Cobh Ramblers 2016/17)

roy keane

(pic of Roy Keane courtesy of Daily Mail)


Sean also mentioned Galway United. The club started in the 1930s as Galway Rovers and joined the League of Ireland in 1977. The mid 80s and early 90s were a time of great success for the club. Renamed Galway United FC in 1981, the club were Runners Up to double winners Shamrock Rovers in 1985 and qualified for their first European competition, the 1985/86 Cup Winners Cup, falling in the opening round to Lyngby of Denmark. Galway United almost won the League of Ireland title the following season but fell just short, making it into the 1986/87 UEFA Cup where they hammered by Dutch side Groningen. The team finally won a major trophy, winning the 1991 FAI Cup. Their European adventure only lasted one round as Odense knocked them out in the First Round of the Cup Winners Cup.  Financial problems caused the club to lose League of Ireland status in 2011. However, efforts were made to reform the team and Galway United returned to the League of Ireland in 2014.

galway united

(image of 2016/17 home shirt courtesy of Galway United)

From what I could find, both Irish teams use the colors of claret and blue but in different styles. Sometimes one color dominates the body with the opposite color being used a trim. Full kit histories were hard to come by but if readers have resources, please let me know.


Moving outside Britain, Trabzonspor are one of the most successful Turkish teams outside of the big three Istanbul teams—Galatasaray, Fenerbahçe and Beşiktaş. Trabzonspor were formed in 1966 after three amateur teams came together in the city of Trabzon, and their original colors were red and white. After a dispute with İdmanocağı, a new club was formed in 1967 and used the claret and blue. After several years in the second division, the club achieved promotion to the top flight and in 1976 became the first club outside Istanbul to win the league title. From there the team enjoyed a decade of success winning five more league titles, finishing runners up three times plus celebrating three Turkish Cup wins. 1984 saw their cycle capped with a domestic double and since then they have won the Turkish Cup five more times.

Trabzonspor are another team that chose their colors in honor of Aston Villa. “TS” is the short name for the club and these letters are creatively incorporated into the club crest along with a ball and the club’s year formation.


(image courtesy of Trabzonspor)

trab 2016

(image of 2016/17 home shirt courtesy of Trabzonspor)


The Colorado Rapids play in Major League Soccer (MLS), and originally the club used green and white as primary colors, then the Rapids switched to black in blue in 2003. But in 2007, the franchise (key word) re-branded. The Rapids changed their logo and color palette to burgundy and sky blue. This change did a couple of things: updated their branding and brought the Rapids branding more in line with the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche of Kroenke Sports & Entertainment (KSE).


Photo courtesy of Rapids Republic

Primary Kit 2007


Photo courtesy of The Mane Land

Primary Kit 2020

Since then, their primary shirts have been mostly burgundy with sky blue or white trim/accents. In the early years of the re-brand, sky blue was used as a secondary color.


  • The Colorado Rapids wikipedia article has a comprehensive recap of the logo and color scheme for the club.
  • Rapids Republic provides a thorough kit history of the club.
  • And if you want to learn more about the club, the Burgundy Wave site is a great place to start.


Italian side F.C. Rieti was brought to my attention about teams who wear claret and blue, or in this case amaranto and celeste.

The club has been around since 1936 playing mostly in Serie C, with two seasons in Serie B in 1946–47 and 1947–48 and two seasons in Serie C2 in  2005–06 and 2006–07

The club is currently in Group C (South) of Serie C but are having tough times. Bottom of the table, they were penalized five points for missing payments at the beginning of the current campaign.

Information on the club and kit history was hard to track down. Plus I don’t speak Italian. However, I did find pics of these some recent kits. The striped one with the laces is AMAZING!!

96 97

1996/97 Home Kit



Recent home kits



This was another club brought to my attention on my original post about teams who wear claret and blue.

Going through the history of Weymouth FC made for interesting reading with a string of ownership groups, managers and promotions/relegations. This club has experienced a lot in 130 years.

Founded in 1890, the club started with a halved navy blue and pink shirt paired with white shorts and navy socks. The club was referred to as the Terra Cottas during the 1893-1894 season. 

A kit of white shirts with black shorts and socks was introduced in the 1930s and was used in the late 50s and for most of the 60s and 70s. Interesting that their strips have been manufactured by Macron, Joma and Umbro in recent seasons.

The Terras were promoted to Conference South in 2006 and played in the National Conference (fifth tier of English Football) until their relegation in 2009. The club is currently in the National League South (sixth tier of English Football).


Picture courtesy of Peter Else (Flickr)

2016/17 Home shirt

1819 home kit

Current Home Strip



Westfields FC were formed in November 1966 by local youths following England’s 1966 World Cup win. Per the club’s website: The club took the claret and blue colours from West Ham United, as its founders admired Bobby Moore, Martin Peters and Sir Geoff Hurst, who were part of the England squad that won the World Cup in the year they were founded.

One of the founders, Andy Morris, is still involved with the club and is now its chief executive. He was given the Lifetime Achievement Award for 50 years’ service as during their 50th anniversary celebration, which took place in 2016/17.

The Fields, as they are known, are currently playing in the Hellenic League Premier Division (ninth level of English football).The Hellenic Football League is an English men’s football league covering an area including the English counties of Worcestershire, Berkshire, Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, southern Buckinghamshire, southern Herefordshire and northern Wiltshire

Westfields were unbeaten this campaign (20W 6D 0L) and 13 points ahead, but unfortunately the season has been abandoned and all results expunged, with no promotion or relegation.

One of the highlights for the club was their FA Cup run during the 2016–17 season. The club won six matches and qualified for the first round of the FA Cup for the first time in their history. Per Andy Morris, “We appeared on Match of the Day and Football Focus, and I appeared as a studio guest for the live FA Cup First Round Draw in Manchester.” The Fields played Curzon Ashton and were knocked out after losing 3–1 in a replay after drawing 1–1 initially at home.

westfields old strip

The Westfields team that won the Herefordshire Sunday League Premier Division in 1972

1920 home

2019/20 Home kit



This project took me to Malta and Gzira United FC. Founded in 1947, information was difficult to find but the Maroons won the Maltese FA Trophy in 1973, which qualified them for the 1973-74 European Cup Winners’ Cup, with their participation lasting one round. Details from the tie here

This is their only major honor to date but the club were promoted to the Maltese First Division for the first time in 2016 and back to back third place finishes in 2018 and 2019 saw them enter the UEFA Europa League, winning their first round tie but falling at the second hurdle each time.

Their strip was made by Joma for 2016/17 and 2017/18 seasons while the current kit is made by Puma. The home strip is a dark burgundy while the away set is deep sky blue. The club interchanges both sets to give them lots of flexibility for kit clashes.


Picture of team from 1952/53 (Courtesy of Malta and International Football Collection Facebook page)

cwc team

Picture of team from 1973/1974 Cup Winners Cup (Courtesy of Malta and International Football Collection Facebook page)

1920 kit 2

2019/20 Home kit (pic courtesy of Gzira United FC)

1920 away kit (2)

2019/20 Away kit (pic courtesy of Gzira United FC)



Cumbernauld United F.C. is a Scottish Junior team with a stop/start history. The team was formed in the 1900s, dissolved in 1923 and restarted in 1929, lasting until the start of World War II. United returned to the field in 1967 and have been going strong ever since.

The team has interacted with some famous teams and players through the years, hosting prestige friendlies against Celtic and Manchester United and having Sir Kenny Dalglish, Johnny Hamilton, Jackie McNamara, Lee McCulloch, and Bobby Russell in their ranks.

At the time of writing, Cumbernauld United F.C. is in the Scottish Junior Football Association (SJFA) West Region Championship. My research led me to learn that the term “junior” does not relate to the age of players, and Roddy Cairns wrote an informative piece for The Football Pink that laid out the history and current status of Junior Football. The West Region Championship is the second tier of region with promotion to the West Region Premiership or relegation to the West League One

The current strips are made by Stanno, a brand I had not heard of before. Turns out Stanno is part of the Dutch Deventrade Group, which also oversees hummel. Cumbernauld United’s current strip is the Torino template and looks fantastic.



South Shields FC, a club with a storied history, was formed in 1974 in the wake of Gateshead A.F.C. and Gateshead United F.C. The club has climbed up the English football pyramid and now play in the Northern Premier League Premier Division, which is the 7th level of English soccer.

FA-Vase-Final-Wembley-Stadium via chronicle live

FA Vase triumph in 2017 (picture courtesy of Chronicle Live)

The last 15 years or so have seen several cup runs, both local and national, for the Mariners but nothing may ever trump the 2016/17 campaign. The club collected the Durham Challenge Cup, the Northern League Cup and most notably Football Association Challenge Vase (FA Vase) title. This competition is for teams playing below Step 4 of the English National League System (or equivalently, below tier 8 of the overall English football league system). On top of that, the team won the Northern League with 108 points.

49573675728_0bfc1ee821_c (2)

Current home strip (picture courtesy of South Shields FC)

South Shields claret and blue shirts and white shorts are an homage to their predecessors, who have used a multitude of color schemes over the last century–tangerine and black, red and green, blue and white, all white, amber and blue, all red and even white and green. Historical Football Kits has previous iterations. Recent kits for the Mariners have been provided by Nike, Macron, Stanno, Errea and now are made by Puma.



In skimming a kit site on Facebook I came across this picture:

2019 team pic

2019 Team Picture courtesy of Argja Bóltfelag

This is Argja Bóltfelag who were founded in 1973 and play in the Faroe Islands Premier League. The club has bounced back and forth since getting promoted in 2006, but 2020 is their third season in top flight, which has recently kicked off again after a short suspension due to COVID-19.

Due to the language barrier, information was hard to come by. But based on research of available images, it appears they wear adidas templates in their colors of claret and blue.



 In researching Argja Bóltfelag I stumbled upon this tweet:


So I added Malvern Town to my research and discovered this English club was established in 1946. The Hillsiders currently compete in the Hellenic League Division One West, which is the Tenth Level of the English football league system. This season saw an upgrade in the club’s facilities with a 3G playing surface and new dressing rooms.

home strip

2019/20 Home Strip (photo courtesy of Malvern Town FC)


Back of Home Strip with graphic (photo courtesy of Malvern Town FC)

The team’s strip is provided by Scimitar Sports. Malvern Town is a focal point of the brand’s website and their current kits have a wonderful pattern on the back. I reached out to the club on Twitter and was informed that the graphic shows the various peaks of the Malvern Hills.



My claret and blue journey has taken me to Cyprus, where two Paralimni clubs, Heracles and People’s Love, merged in April 1944 and Enosis Neon Paralimniou was born. The club’s name means Youth Union of Paralimni in Greek, and the Clarets currently play in the Cypriot First Division.

In 1965 the club participated in the Cypriot Second Division and got promoted in 1969 to the First Division where they remained until 2014. They bounced back and forth in the following years with promotion in the 2017/18 season. 

Null - Jun 2002

Picture from 2002 Intertoto Cup tie (Courtesy of Shutterstock)

The Clarets best league finish was second in 1974/75, and they have several runners-up medals in the Cypriot Cup in 1973–74, 1974–75, 1980–81, 1982–83. The club participated in the 2002 UEFA Intertoto Cup but were eliminated in the first round by Austrian team SC Bregenz.

One quick note. In researching the club I noticed they were managed by legendary manager Vic Buckingham in 1968.

As for the team’s colors, per Wikipedia:

The team’s colours of claret and sky blue were introduced by Jimmy Parneriou; a local businessman who was friends with former West Ham United player Bobby Moore. Moore donated West Ham United kits for the team to play in the 1970s. These colours became an established part of the club itself.

The Clarets’ current kit is made by Macron, which has supplied their kit since 2016. This graphic from the club Facebook page shows their most recent home shirts:

recent kits via Enosis Neon Paralimniou FB

The Colours of Football website has several recent sets while Old Football Shirts has even older versions of their strip.



So Castleberry Hill AC join a long and storied group of clubs wearing claret and blue. Let me know what I got right, what I got wrong and who I forgot. And if your team (Sunday league, semi pro, lower league, whatever) wears claret and blue, give me a shout and maybe we’ll get you on the list.

Follow me on twitter (@austinlong1974) and check out the rest of my Strip Club posts here and check out my SoccerNomad podcast.

Many, many thanks to Wikipedia, Historical Football Kits and Picking up the Threads as well as a special thank you to Sam Long, John Devlin and Chris Oakley for their feedback.

SoccerNomad Podcast: Chris Oakley


Chris Oakley

Chris Oakley came on the SoccerNomad podcast to talk kit design and West Ham United. Chris was one of the creators and contributors of the fabulous Football Attic blog, which can be found at Check out his other projects at Kitbliss, Beyond the Last Man and his alternakits at the twohundredpercent website.

Additional Resources:

  • Chris’ video blog at the Football Attic with some of the kits he has owned over the years.
  • The Football Attic podcast on badges.
  • Check out Historical Football Kits for a good look at West Ham home shirts through the years.

Follow Chris and his projects on twitter

Some of the shirts we referenced:

Favorite of Chris’ alternakits:


Portugal away

Goal from Paolo Di Canio against Wimbeldon from 99/00 season.

Here are some of the West Ham shirts we discussed:

whu 79 80Admiral 76-80

whu 80 81adidas 80-83

whu away 60s

Away shirt 1960s

whu away 16 17

Away Shirt 2016/17

We also discussed the West Ham badge redesign:








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