85. Puma Momentta (2013-15)
Many years ago, when I was less than half the age I am now, I owned a Commodore Amiga. Ostensibly a computer best suited for playing games, I often tested its credentials by playing Sensible Soccer or Jimmy White's Whirlwind Snooker. Having thereby enriched my life with unimaginable excitement, I had regular need to calm myself down at regular intervals for fear of inducing cardiovascular palpitations. For that, I'd head for the tranquil waters of Deluxe Paint III.
DP3, as some people called it, was my first exposure to the wonderful world of graphic design. For the first time ever, I could create something vaguely artistic and purely digital. (I'm not including the blocky seven-colour nonsense I produced on my ZX Spectrum.) In this pre-PC age, I could doodle away on a screen without the need for pens, pencils or paints - an incredible privilege that only set me back £850 (or at least the 1988 equivalent to today's money). What a bargain.
But why am I telling you all this? Because back then, the sort of things I was designing were very... straight. I'd draw scoreboards for my Subbuteo matches or logos for imaginary football teams, and always with straight lines very much to the fore. I had a friend called Martin, and his designs were full of curves and bends and rounded corners. I was envious of the far-out, non-angular attitude of my young buddy, but why was I seemingly unable to think outside the box - or at least beyond anything resembling a square?
We have no time to resolve this matter. All I know is this shirt template is one that Martin could have created with his brain, but not me with mine. That said, no-one in the late 1980s had the foresight to believe such a design as this would one day be made real, and yet here it is. Or was. Next year it will celebrate its tenth anniversary, and celebrate it we should. Let me count the ways...
From left: AEK Athens (2013-15 away), Botafogo (2013-14 away and third).
The more eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed that the templates featured in this countdown are included because they've been rated highly against certain criteria. One of those criteria is 'detail', meaning that a shirt design has incorporated a considerable set of distinctive characteristics. Yet while this rule appears to favour more complicated templates, I'm always prepared to give a pass to those in the 'less is more' category. Without doubt this is one such template.
Possessing what appears to be little more than a round neckline and some curvy piping, Puma have shown that barely anything else need be added. In fact, that kinked line stretching from one arm to the other is all that's required for a design that looks contemporary, poised, and delightfully minimalistic.
From left: Cardiff City (2013-14 yellow/blue alternates), Chesterfield (2013-15 away), Coventry City (2013-15 home).
Thus was the approach taken by Cardiff City, Huddersfield Town and Motherwell, to name but three. All wore a one-colour kit either home or away, with a second colour being employed for the piping and/or collar. Puma, however, made allowances for those teams wanting something a bit extra. Others, such as Chesterfield, Watford and Rangers, chose to have the upper part of the shirt in a different colour to the rest of it. In the case of Falkirk and Fleetwood Town, that technically provided the opportunity to bring in a three-colour palette which looked very nice indeed.
But wait - there's more! (Heck, even I can do infomercials...)
Coventry City and Sheffield Wednesday proved that Puma's template was versatile enough to work with stripes too, even if they were kettled into the lower two-thirds of the shirt. With a single colour above the curved piping, the design still looked cohesive.
From left: Falkirk (2013-14 home and away), Fleetwood Town (2013-14 home), Huddersfield Town (2013-14 away).
Yet Coventry wanted to occupy an even smaller cross-section of the Momentta venn diagram by doing something only they and Brazilian club Botafogo achieved; they integrated a unique decoration to the upper part of the shirt. In the case of the Sky Blues, that decoration took the form of a hexagonal grid woven into the fabric, while their Brazilian counterparts showed off 13 stars in the same manner. For Botafogo, the number 13 is supposedly a special number, hence the number of stars. Why Coventry City had hexagons on their shirt, I'm not sure. Something-something joke-about-only-getting-six-points something-something.
* DUCKS * ...
From left: Huddersfield Town (2013-14 third), Motherwell (2013-14 away), Rangers (2013-14 away).
AEK Athens, meanwhile, took the opposite approach and had their club badge looming large on the lower part of the shirt. Coloured dark grey on a black background, it seemed to be sidling off to the right almost apologetically, like a ghostly figure too embarrassed to emerge from the shadows.
But that's merely a minor distraction. All in all, this was a popular template worn in Europe and South America by a great many teams, and rightly so. If subtlety and flexibility are what you're looking for in a shirt template, Puma proved here (as on many other occasions) that it could be done, and done with great style. Why it hasn't been done by more kit suppliers only proves how difficult it is to pull off.
From left: Sheffield Wednesday (2013-14 home), Watford (2013-14 home and away).