A football kit is as important to football fans as the badge that is embroidered on it. Not just a shirt and shorts combination that tells apart teammates from the opposition, but this is a uniform, an armour worn before going into battle. This is the colour scheme that has been passed down from generation to generation. Supporters with their children and grandchildren have all watched the same pallets with slightly different variations running around for 90 minutes representing them, their families and more importantly, their identities. If you think I am exaggerating, ask the Cardiff City fans who saw their traditional blue and white home strip be exchanged for the polar opposite bright red tops and black shorts in 2012. What about asking the England fans what they thought of David Seaman's monstrosity during Euro '96? We all remember that red based shirt disaster with the red, green and yellow striped socks.
Luckily for Millwall fans, apart from the period when we had the horrendous bright pink Live TV! across the front, we have been privileged with smart looking and impressive kits. Even the ones that we weren't too fond of haven't made the list of worst kits of all time, although as mentioned any kit that advertises the Weather in Norwegian should automatically trump the awful Hull City kit from 1992.
So as a Millwall fan who has practically bought kits every year for either myself or my two sons, be it at the start of the season when they were fresh out the packet or in the bargain bucket under the tin pencil cases in the club shop, here are my top 5 Millwall kits:
5. Blue and White, Fairview Home Kit 1992 - 1993
The classic blue and white Bukta kit from the 1992-1993 season, this was one of the first Millwall kits I remember owning. The kit that ironically had the name of the developer that had acquired the land of the Old Den. Was it a blue kit with white dividers or white with blue dividers? Either way, at a time when the Premier League was in it's infancy and the new kits were as loud and bright as the fireworks which began every top flight game, Millwall's kit had a very subtle undertone to it.
4. Red and Black, Captain Morgan Away Kit 1994 - 1995
A classy red with black pin stripes and black shorts, this kit was the perfect compliment to the classic royal blue home kit with the white sleeves. Although the roaring Lion badge wasn't as classic as the shirt itself, fans could easily look past this. The black shorts with the red string also showed the care that Asics put into the detail and even though Millwall tried to replicate this design with the 2009-2010 away kit, it was a poor imitation in comparison.
3. All-White, Giorgio Home Kit 1999 - 2001
Due to the negative off field reputation that came before us, Millwall had gone through something of an image change in 1999. The traditional blue home colours that we had been so used to for so many years were now replaced with the all white look we had donned in the late 60's and early 70's. Older fans were happy with this change, but all the fans were furious when then-Chairman Theo Paphitis changed the rampant Lion badge to the crest with two Lions seemingly high-fiving. Our players must've felt our concerns and played great football to distract us from the controversy. These were some of the best years for Millwall and fond memories of this kit coincide with a young, in-form Neil Harris scoring week after week.
2. Green and White, Captain Morgan 1995 - 1996
Where do I begin with this kit? This was a kit of absolute beauty and class. Sometimes green kits don't really work, but the white half and left sleeve settled down that striking green colour. As with the red and black kit and the blue home shirt, the badge wasn't the best but the yellow and brown roaring Lion seemed to both contrast and equally blend in perfectly on the green background. This kit was replicated a few seasons later when The Lions were sponsored by the South London Press, but the Captain Morgan kit was always the preferred option.
1. Blue and White, Captain Morgan, 1994 - 1996
This kit was the clear winner for me. A kit which as a child I would always have on. The collar was sturdy and although I was asked if I was copying Eric Cantona, I told everyone I was replicating Millwall player Andy Roberts who always had his collar up. A kit that was worn in one of our first seasons at the New Den, this kit was copied later on for the FA Cup Final season and also the 2015-2016 Play Off season, but this kit easily trumped both of those. I mean this was the kit we beat Arsenal in at Highbury...
So these are my five favourites. Yes, they may come from around the same time, but these kits were fashion icons. Agree or Disagree with me? Let me know your thoughts and which kit is your favourite!