The Top Ten: Sunderland AFC Home Kits

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Back following a week’s hiatus thanks to International Football, its Captain Fishpaste’s favourite Roker Report weekly regular, it’s the Top Ten! This week I’m going all Gok Wan on your asses, no not like that, as I pick out my favourite SAFC Home Kits from years gone by. Some may have significant memories attached to them, other may just be top notch takes on the simple design that has become an iconic symbol for our club – the red and white stripes.

So without wasting any more of your precious time, lets get down to business!

10. 1986 – 1988

The first and only SAFC kit to be manufactured by Patrick (remember them?) features a number of characteristics that don’t often make up your typical SAFC shirt and help to make this mid-1980’s effort stand out from the rest. Firstly the central positioning of the badge and secondly the white socks, not enough of our kits have featured white socks for my liking, although the kitman is probably thankful of that. Actually, do club’s even wash their kit anymore? I presume a nice fresh shirt is provided these days, I digress…

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9. 1937 – 1938

A favourite amongst the older and, arguably, wiser of our followers. Its always great to see this piece get an airing in the pubs before a home game due to its simple and classic design, a shirt which epitomises it's era if you will. Of course this shirt is much loved by the Sunderland fans due to its connection with the club’s first FA Cup win. The shirt also features the town’s coat of arms and the badges for the kit were actually donated by the council who then, believe it or not, requested their return following the victory over Preston in the Final!

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8. 1981 – 1983

Ah, the controversial early 80’s kit. Personally I wasn’t even born when this shirt was on the backs on Roker Park's heroes but looking back now the retro design with its narrow stripes really make it stand out from any other design we’ve ever had. Obviously it wasn’t especially popular at the time given its stark contrast from the fairly standard shirt designs the fans had become accustomed to but maybe it was simply ahead of its time?

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7. 1994 – 1996

This Avec number is a favourite of mine as its release coincides with the time that I first started attending Roker Park regularly. In all honesty its design is, well, completely mental. With the left shoulder blocked in red patch, a random zig-zag design across the right with a matching section on the shorts. Far be it for me to cast aspersions but the Avec designers must have had a canny session the day they put that one together.

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6.  2002 – 2004

Whilst the football may have been rubbish at the time I was quite a fan of Nike’s last effort for the club. Branching away from the standard blocked stripes design the main body of the shirt was eye-catching, just a shame that it was worn by the likes of Tore Andre Flo amongst others…

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5. 1997 – 1999

Possibly my favourite period during my association with the club. Coinciding with the move to the new stadium, the emergence of Kevin Phillips, Lee Clark etc. and a style of play that was, at times breathtaking, this kit will always hold fond memories for myself and I’m sure the vast majority of our fans. It even featured the central badge I am so fond of, a huge beer mat for a sponsor and that weird "waffle" like material, classy.

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4. 1991 – 1994

The first shirt I owned would also coincide with the first time I would cry because of football. The 1992 FA Cup Final. It would not be the last, that came courtesy of Wimbledon in 1997. Of course, since then I’ve realised that misery is part and parcel of what being a Sunderland fan is all about and instead search for solace in the bottom of a pint glass. Anyway, back to the kit. Hummel’s last design for the club was nice and simple, something a lot of modern shirt manufacturers could learn from. The SAFC crest also moved away from the blue background to black for the first time. I can also remember having to stave off the temptation to pick at the felt sponsors and incur the wrath of a pissed off mother.

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3. 1977 – 1981

Another shirt which encapsulates an entire SAFC era and helps conjure images of fan favourites from the time such as Gary Rowell, Shaun Elliott, Stan Cummings and more. The design itself is simple and uncluttered, just how football shirts should be. It is also the first SAFC kit to feature the crest on the shorts, a design choice which has since become the norm and a nice, plain collar. Smart.

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2. 1973 – 1975

Probably the most famous of all the old, retro SAFC shirts that give the city centre some colour on match day. Of course you all need no reminding of that famous day in May of 1973 when Sunderland upset the odds at Wembley and this kit is an iconic reminder of that historic event. The kit itself is the last not to feature a manufacturers logo and also carried the simple, yet affective, SAFC lettering rather than a crest.

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1. 2000 – 2002

The first of Nike’s most recent affiliation with the club was a classy affair with a nice and simple design including the return of the V-Neck, which after the awful "Grandad Collar" of Asic’s effort the season before was a much welcome addition. The shirt also came at a time when hope and expectations for the club had rose to an all time following back-to-back seventh placed finishes. Of course Sunderland being Sunderland ended up in a relegation battle, but at least the kit was spot on. Small victories and all that.

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All images Copyright Historical Football Kits and reproduced by kind permission.

Be sure to vote in the below poll and let us know in the comments field if we have missed any of your favourites and what makes them memorable to you. Peace out.

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