92. Umbro 'Quad' (1987-90)

Graphic showing examples of the Umbro 'Quad' shirt template

Chris Oakley | 22 March 2022

Of all the templates that have been discussed thus far (and many of those that will follow) this example is perhaps the one with the most negligible qualities.

But let's address one thing before we start: those magnificent squares. Like a series of diagonal stripes that have been pixelated for being too indecent, they showed us that shirts didn't have to be plain or have a repeating shadow pattern. Umbro's squares appeared in four tones of the same colour and repeated with pleasing regularity across and down the shirt. Football shirt design was in fine fettle in 1987.

Look beyond the squares and the details start to get a little patchy when assessing the two main versions of this design that were regularly worn. Both featured a grandad collar, but while Derby wore theirs in plain white, Aberdeen preferred some extra coloured trim along the top edge of theirs. Cuffs? Aberdeen went with white to tally up with the collar while Derby didn't bother at all. Piping? Derby had theirs running along the shoulder and down to the armpit, but Aberdeen opted for one on the shoulder and another separately on the arm.

From left: Aberdeen (1987-90 home), Derby County (1987-89 away).

So for anyone foolishly trying to nail down the exact elements of shirt templates, this one doesn't give us much to go on. There are constituent parts, but other than the bold pattern, none of them are consistent between the two versions.

Thankfully a third iteration of the template exists to provide a little more insight on the design. It was worn by the Rest of the World team that played a Football League XI at Wembley in August 1987, a match organised to celebrate the centenary of the Football League in England and Wales.

The World XI team consisted of many international stars including Michel Platini, Gary Lineker and Diego Maradona, and the kit they wore was not dissimilar to the one Aberdeen were often seen in betwen 1987 and 1990. This one, however, had the Derby County piping and a completely different wrapover collar with double-stripe edging.

All of which firmly puts this template into the 'Deconstructable' category. When we see those squares, we're reminded perhaps of Dean Saunders of Derby or Charlie Nicholas of Aberdeen, but the overall design isn't as consistent as one thinks. Umbro left it up to the team in question to choose which other aspects they wanted on the shirt, but the background design was strong enough to take the attention away from those minor differences. For that reason, this is a clever template by Umbro that nicely shows off their growing sense of dynamic design in the late 1980's.

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