76. Umbro Chevron (2011-13)
Well, here we are again. Yet more chevrons... As mentioned before, the classic v-stripe was experiencing something of a comeback a decade ago. Nike were particularly keen to explore the different ways that a chevron could be conceived, and Umbro produced a design of their own that matched any of them for fine execution.
Around the time of their magnificent 'Tailored' designs, Umbro began looking into broad bands of colour as the basis for creating shirts with impact. When they hit upon chevrons as one such idea, they made them big, broad and two-coloured on a contrasting plain background. The result was a bold interpretation of the look that had been so popular in Rugby League for a century or more - a look which itself may derive from the colourful v-neckline of vintage cricket sweaters. Rumours that an old British TV commercial for decorators' crack filler was the inspiration for the design are entirely unsubstantiated.
From left: Airdrie United (2011-12 third), Ballymena United (2011-12 away), Canada (2011 home and away).
Like Nike's similar chevron designs, a simplistic approach was taken by Umbro. Nearly every version of the template featured a round neckline on the shirt, a basic diamond logo on the right breast and nothing else. No shadow patterns were there to grab the attention, and only a sponsor logo on the chest or sleeves could sully the otherwise unambiguous visual presentation. This, however, was exactly the right approach to take. Solid swathes of colour are often what work best on football shirts, and Umbro are arguably the masters of proving that.
Somewhat peculiarly, many versions of their aptly-named Chevron template were worn on both sides of the Irish border. Apart from the Northern Ireland national team who adopted it for their away kit, club sides Ballymena United and Crusaders provided some exposure in the IFA Premiership. In the Republic of Ireland, Cork City and Dundalk wore the template in domestic competition.
From left: Cork City (2012-13 home and away), Crusaders (2011-12 away).
As with all templates, there are one or two anomalies capable of piquing one's interest. Of the twelve versions I was able to find, only one (belonging to Rangers) had an extra line of trim around the neckline, and only Northern Ireland's featured a v-neckline rather than a round neckline. Perhaps the strangest one of all was that worn by Airdrie United - not because of its physical appearance, but because it was a third shirt in a set where the home and away kits were made by Surridge. Of those, the home shirt was provided in two different styles, but that's another story...
Sadly, the Umbro Chevron template was worn towards the start of the 'one-year kit cycle' era and it had disappeared almost as soon as we'd set eyes on it. Thankfully, it left a lasting impression on many and, like all good templates, it was versatile enough to be worn in a wide range of colour combinations. With accompanying shorts and socks in a variety of complementary styles, Umbro showed once again that when it comes to classic kit designs, there weren't many to better them.
From left: Huddersfield Town (2011-12 away and third), Northern Ireland (2011-12 away), Rangers (2011-12 third).