70. Nike Striker III (2013-15)
OK, I’ll just come right out and say it: this template is pretty basic. For days, I’ve been wondering what else I could add to “It’s got a band of colour in two places and a v-neck,” a cold sweat breaking out on my upper lip as I did so. It is about as simple as shirt design gets, and yet it’s already beaten thirty others in this countdown, to say nothing of the other 200 or more that didn’t even get that far. Why?
I have a couple of theories. First of all, that vertical band down one side of the shirt very much appeals to my love of nostalgia. I’m a sentimental old fool, and I still have a hankering for those Admiral shirt designs of the Seventies when one or more stripes, off centre, seemed such a tremendously daring thing to do. Think Aberdeen, Luton Town, Manchester United... What great designs they were.
Top row, from left: Ayr United (2013-14 home and away), Barnsley (2013-14 away), Blackburn Rovers (2013-14 away).
Bottom row, from left: Bradford City (2013-14 home), Brighton & Hove Albion (2014-15 third), China (2015 away), Cork City (2015 home).
Striker III is a modern addition to that bloodline, and what it might lack in pizazz, it more than makes up for in simple class. The repeat of that stripe, rotated on the opposite sleeve, is something those Admiral designs never had, and it provides a nice continuity to the motif in an interesting way.
For those claiming ‘it still looks boring,’ Nike did allow a few teams to modify the template (although they’ve not been illustrated here, sadly). Australia, for example, truncated the main band so that their team badge could be seen clearly, not to mention the stripe on the inner edge of the sleeve, close to the underarm area.
Like the Australian version, Hong Kong’s 2013-14 home and away shirts had a round neckline instead of the curved v-shape, but the stripes had their own thick edging for a bit of extra detail. Indonesia’s 2013 away shirt adopted the same approach, but made the stripe edging more discrete.
Top row, from left: Dnipro (2013-14 home and away), Eintracht Braunschweig (2013-14 away), Finland (2014-15 home).
Bottom row, from left: Finland (2014-15 away), Hartlepool United (2013-14 away and special shirt), Lech Poznań (2014-15 home).
The original version worn by the teams shown undoubtedly works best for this template, but that brings me onto my second theory about its greatness. Having that vertical bar running down the right of the shirt forces each team in question to address the sponsor logo issue. Where should it go?
Teams wearing this template fell into one of three camps. Many, like Bradford City and Brighton, simply plastered their sponsor logo right across the shirt, vertical bar included. Another group, including Lincoln City and Scunthorpe, chose to place their sponsor logo away from the bar in its own distinct area of the shirt. That just left a couple of outliers - Barnsley and Hartlepool United - who were in the fortunate position of having a logo that fitted nicely onto the bar itself (albeit with a little judicious rotation).
Moving that vertical bar to one side, as Nike did, meant a shaking up of the conventional look of a shirt. It might not mean much to most people, but I love that sponsor logos couldn’t just assume they’d be slapped across the middle. Sometimes they had to work around the main feature of the template, and that’s no bad thing, in my view.
Top row, from left: Lech Poznań (2014-15 away), Lincoln City (2013-14 home and away), Linfield (2013-14 away).
Bottom row, from left: Maccabi Haifa (2013-14 home), Oxford United (2013-14 away), Peterborough United (2013-14 home),
Scunthorpe United (2013-14 third / 2014-15 away).
One final thought about this shirt template (as part of an entire kit) is that Nike appeared to make a wide range of colours available for it. Often, as with other templates, you might see two or three core colours, but that’s it. Here, we see white, blue, red, purple, green, navy blue, orange... and that’s before you add in the shorts which often contrast to the shirt. Good to see.
So there we have it. Nike hit the bullseye with a popular, simple template that has underlying levels of detail and interest. Job done, and ‘tick - VG’ from this football kit admirer.
Lots of messages came in after this post was published to tell us about other teams that wore this template. I've managed to illustrate those I've been able to ratify, but a few remain unconfirmed.
Anyway, first of all, it's thanks to Adam's Shirt Quest who told me about the triumvirate of island idylls, namely Martinique, Tahiti and American Samoa, all of whom wore Striker III back in the day (see template gallery page for illustrations). Great detective work as ever, there...
Next up, it's a big thank you to old friend Denis Hurley who informed me that it wasn't just Cork City that wore the featured template in the League of Ireland. Bray Wanderers did too, and in almost the identical home kit. Denis tells me that they had different Nike teamwear kit suppliers at the time, which possibly explains their similar preference for this design...
Regular correspondent, Daniel Hansen, also spotted that Dyanmo Dresden wore a natty yellow and white ensemble home and away, and very happy I was to create a new Dynamo Dresden page on the Kitbliss website accordingly. Thanks Daniel!
Finally, James Welham, sent me a picture of Southend United playing in their all-yellow away version of Striker III in the 2014-15 League Two play-off final. The regular look of that kit featured black shorts, and it was that one I happily added to the Southend United page. Nice one, James!
And there are many other reports of teams wearing this design, too. India, Nigeria, Macau... even the mighty Guernsey, supposedly, but I need a little more confirmation about the circumstances and date of when the kit was worn in each case. Once I get that, I'll add them to the appropriate places on the Kitbliss website.
Meantime, if you know of any alternative versions yourself, please do drop me a line, but remember to provide as much information as you can about who's wearing the kit, when and in what match. That way, we'll be able to give you the credit you deserve. Thanks very much!