I like stripes. Juventus’ monochrome pinstripe always looks good, especially as worn by Michel Platini, but the best stripes were always those worn by the Milan clubs: the classic Inter Milan and, best of all, the sublime AC Milan Rossonero. So I’m looking forward to seeing Everton take on a West Bromwich Albion side whose away kit channels that worn by Baresi and co. It might also stir memories of twenty years ago, and a kit that divided Evertonians.
1992 saw the start of the Premier League, the Sky Strikers shaking their pom-poms at every televised game and The Shamen belting out Ebeneezer Goode at half-time to a bemused set of supporters whose closest thing to ecstasy was the warmth from a cup of Bovril. In amongst the innovations that worked and the innovations that didn’t, was a remarkable piece of design from Umbro. They reached back 100 years into Everton’s glorious history and came up with a striped away kit. The navy stripe was fine: the “salmon pink” stripe, with which it alternated, was dangerously close to that colour of which we must not speak. Some fans saw red in more senses than one.
I loved it. It was unique and confident in both its conception and execution. These days pink kits are a dime a dozen, with rugby’s Stade Francais leading the way, but back then, this was something special. The first time I saw it was (I think) at Selhurst Park where a Blues (well, Blues and Pinks team) defeated Crystal Palace 2-0, with a line-up that included Preki and Billy Kenny in midfield and an all-time great up front – Peter Beardsley. The Geordie genius got one and Matt Jackson got the other – and we crawled up to 17th, a slot behind our opponents. Palace went down that season and we finished in 13th – things were so tight that had the result gone the other way, Palace would have survived comfortably by three points and we would have been a single point off the drop.
We’ve played in pink since of course, but there wasn’t quite the shock of the new that hit hard as an Everton side turned out, not just in stripes, but in pink stripes. At Goodison, West Brom will remind fans of our short-lived kit and I hope they’ll look back fondly – I can’t be alone in not wanting to wait another 100 years to see it again.