93. Umbro 'Cursor' (1995-98)
Ah, the 90's. The 'look at me' decade. Chris Evans. The Spice Girls. Theodore Roosevelt.
(Alright, give me a break... I didn't specify *which* 90's...)
Anyway, you get the point. As we've already discovered, football kits also demanded your attention in the Nineties. If you knew no better, you'd say a law had been passed to ban boring shirt design, such was the change in tack.
Umbro were never shy of trying something new, and by the mid-90's had hit upon the idea of extending their house style by using diamond patterns and devices to reinforce their corporate branding. One such example appeared in 1995 but only seems to have been worn by the national teams of Bolivia and Guatemala. Staggering, given the versatility and great potential of the design.
Someone at Umbro clearly thought there was some mileage in rendering a diamond shape with bold line shading, for this is what became the most striking element of the template. Several of these diamonds were then repeated down the shirt at a slight angle, and each one had a line 'tail' that disappeared off to the left.
From left: Bolivia (1995-97 home), Bolivia (1995-96 away), Guatemala (1995-97 home), Guatemala (1995-96 away).
In essence, there was little else to talk about, apart from a modest winged collar and a chevron shadow pattern that could perhaps be called 'herringbonesque'. The line-shaded diamonds, however, provided an opportunity to incorporate the secondary colour in a team's palette in a modern, vibrant way.
In Bolivia's case, several different versions of this design were worn over a two-year period. Their short-sleeved home shirts were cuffed or non-cuffed, while their long-sleeved alternative appeared to have more of a diamond shadow pattern. The away shirts, meanwhile, added a second trim colour to the collar and replaced the centrally-placed Umbro diamond logo with the company's wordmark on the right breast. Where both home and away kits were concerned, a variety of looks were created by switching the shorts and socks from green to white and vice versa where necessary.
Umbro shadow pattern, 1995-98.
Guatemala wore their template in the blue and white colours for which they're well known. From the scant research material available, it seems they preferred an all-white home strip with blue detailing, and blue-white-blue as their change option. For both kits, a curious Umbro design was used for their white shorts which featured blue triangular sections on each leg, while a blue set of change shorts used white edging that didn't really fit stylistically with the rest of the template.
As for that shirt, it really should have been worn more widely, and one can while away many an hour or two imagining red versions for Wales or yellow and blue versions for Sweden. Yet again, though, we must accept that some templates were perhaps rather too robust for most teams. Only Bolivia and Guatemala will know what it was like to wear this one. 'Lucky them,' I say.
For the second time since this series began, Adam's Shirt Quest has come up with the goods by telling me about a little known shirt that follows a featured template.
In this case he informed me that Trinidad and Tobago wore a very fetching white version of this shirt with red diamond motif. The photo he sent me was a little blurry but proved undoubtedly that this was the same Umbro 'Cursor' template as that worn by Bolivia and Guatemala.
Having carried out some research of my own, I managed to track down an even clearer picture of former English football journeyman Stern John wearing the very same shirt. So thanks to Adam, we now have a fifth variety and in a new colour palette at that!