Soapbox: stripped of dignity


Pete Sixsmith‘s many qualities were not previously thought to include a talent for fashion commentary. Then Mike Ashley decided to have yet another (last?) laugh at the expense of Mags by coming up with the ugliest, most inappropriate away strip imaginable. Pete’s first reaction was “Yellow and Gold: ugh!!” This is his second …

Just when Newcastle supporters thought it was safe to come out of the house, the new away strip is launched on an unsuspecting and incredulous public. Yellow and orange stripes are, in the words of one of my Magpie students, “absolutely minging” and just about sums up the general feeling of anyone with any kind of colour/dress sense.

It could well be that this is Ashley’s parting gift to the club and city that has come to loathe him as much as we loathed McMenemey 25 years ago. If so, it’s a hell of a leaving pressie, expecting the rapidly diminishing number of Toon Army foot soldiers to walk around looking like giant deckchairs.

The really depressing thing about it is that it gives them another reason to take their shirts off and show us their tattooed bellies – though on reflection that may be preferable to the yellow stripes that make up this truly revolting strip.

We have been quite fortunate over the years in that our strips, home and away, have been quite decent. My favourite strip was the classic Hummel one that we wore in the 8os and 90s. Perfect stripes, v neck and the Hummel arrows coupled with a simple sponsor in Vaux all add up to a great strip. The blue second strip that we wore at Newcastle on Play Off night was equally good.

Of course, Colin and myself are old enough to remember the days when a second strip was redundant for much of the season. Red and white stripes only clashed with Southampton, Stoke and Sheffield United and we would change for visits to Old Trafford, Elland Road and Anfield. In the cup tie with United in 64 we wore a light blue strip that was never worn again after the drubbing at Huddersfield in the second replay.

There was a nifty all white and all red strip that we would use with the letters SAFC on the top right but nobody really cared because nobody ever thought of buying a strip. My mum bought me a red and white striped shirt for games in 1966 but made the cardinal error of getting one with a white rounded collar rather than a red one. We rarely spoke after that major gaffe.

I was recently entertaining the troops at school by showing them Ken Loach’s Kes. As always, the PE lesson brings the house down and it’s interesting to see the motley collection of kit that the kids turn out in.

Brian Glover’s Mr Sugden is resplendent in a proper Manchester United shirt (“Bobby Charlton today lad. Dennis Law’s in the wash”) but the rest wear polo shirts, T-shirts generic football shirts and what looks like a washed out Huddersfield Town shirt. Poor Billy Casper wears his normal shirt and a pair of gigantic shorts and keeps goal as well as Iain Hesford did for us and Hull City.

I suppose it was in the 1980s that the replica kit trade took off – something else we can blame Margaret Thatcher for. I don’t think I have ever bought one and at my advanced age I don’t think I ever will. Polyester stretched over my not inconsiderable frame is not a pretty sight. But whatever I wear it can’t be any more revolting than the latest disaster from SJP. Yellow stripes indeed………

On a more positive note, I offer these lyrics from Jackie Leven’s song Fareham Confidential, track two on the excellent album Lovers At The Gun Club.

I Could hear the wind a-blowing
Through my Somerfield carrier bag
As I stood outside the Fareham burger van
The burger man has chilli sauce
And Sunderland is his team

Top album from a top guy. Perhaps if he sold bananas or deck chairs,he would be a Newcastle man.

Salut! Sunderland is written, illustrated and edited by - and principally for - supporters of Sunderland AFC. The site aims to be sufficiently literate and entertaining to appeal to people who do not follow SAFC but enjoy good football writing.

2 Responses to “Soapbox: stripped of dignity” Subscribe

  1. Bill Taylor June 24, 2009 at 6:37 pm #

    At least it gives the Custard Creams a chance of picking up some away points — while their opponents are helpless with laughter.

  2. Jeremy Robson July 8, 2009 at 12:16 am #

    I could see that kit catching on over here Bill, if Tim Hortons (Donut and coffee shop for non Canadian based Mackems) ever decided to go for a makeover with their staff uniform!

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