From Chelsea To Nottingham Forest,The Men Behind Football's Iconic Kits

Football kits are an essential part of a clubs identity, and a new illustrated book is documenting the stories behind the famous (and not-so-famous) kits on the planet
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Football kits are an essential part of a clubs identity, and a new illustrated book is documenting the stories behind the famous (and not-so-famous) kits on the planet

Who knew a  combination of Tommy Docherty and an Earl called Gerald gave Chelsea their famous blue and white strip?


Picking Up The Threads is a newly released compendium of football knowledge and illustration that explores the relationship between kit and club. In this book we will find reasons behind the colours of some of the most famous clubs in the world that stretch back to their foundation, and are every bit as romantic as an ex-girlfriend’s love of Barcelona.  Below are just a few examples of the clubs featured and the individuals behind their famous strips.

Giuseppe Garabaldi-Nottingham Forest


Forest had started their life as a football team wearing a set of red caps. In the late 19th century the Italian Giuseppe Garibaldi was a world-renowned political figure and soldier who had just led his forces in the 1866 Austro-Prussian war. He was famed for his red shirted followers and he must have struck a chord with the board of Nottingham Forest as the club chose to wear a strip of ‘Garibaldi Red’ shirts in 1868, but this Garibaldi Red was darker than the colour worn today. The board’s decision means that Forest have, apart from the lightening of the red, had essentially the same kit longer than any other club in the world. This famous kit has affected the strips that many clubs wear today, as Nottingham Forest’s early influence on the game was widespread.

Gerald Oakley-Chelsea


Chelsea were formed in 1905 when builder Gus Mears needed a team to play in his newly redeveloped Stamford Bridge stadium after Fulham refused because the rent was too high! The chosen colours of the new team were the blue and white racing colours of Lord Chelsea the Earl of Cadogan, the first president. Originally the blue was lighter, the shorts white and socks black. The blue changed, over the years, to a more royal blue colour. The full evolution of the kit was down to 60s manager Tommy Docherty, who changed the shorts to match the shirt and also altered the socks to white, to make the colour scheme more modern and distinctive.

Manuel Belgrano-Belgrano de Cordoba


The team from the city of Córdoba are named after the famous Argentinean hero Manuel Belgrano, an economist, political figure, lawyer and soldier. Involved in the Argentinean War of Independence, Belgrano also designed the flag of Argentina and the club take their team’s colours from this in tribute to him.

George Stephenson- Penarol


From Chelsea To Nottingham Forest,The Men Behind Some Of Football's Most Iconic Kits

Uruguay’s most successful team, Peñarol was formed by British railwaymen working on the new rail system in the country. Already playing cricket as part of the Central Uruguay Railway Cricket Club, they had taken for inspiration for their yellow and black strip the colours of the famous locomotive ‘Rocket’ designed by George Stephenson and they carried these colours over to their new football team.

Roger de Lluria- Espanyol


The Spanish club wear their colours in honour of the Italian Admiral Roger de Lluria who was a 13th century Commander of the fleet of Aragon during the War of the Sicilian Vespers. A war hero on a par with Nelson to the Spanish, he was infamous for his devastating defeats of his enemies!

Gul Baba- Galatasaray


The area of Galatasaray was, according to legend, founded when Bayezid, a 15th century Ottoman Sultan, became a guest of an old wise man, Gül Baba. The wise man presented the Sultan with two roses, one red and one yellow. The Sultan, impressed by this gesture, offered the wise man whatever he wished for. Gül Baba showed him a piece of land overlooking the Bosphorus, and asked him to build a school there. The club chose the colours of the roses for their team.

General Jose San Martin- San Martin de Tucuman

The Argentinean team wears red in honour of General José San Martín; whose red-jacketed Grenadiers were deemed heroes in the struggle for South America’s independence from Spain.


William of Orange- Netherlands

Royal links give the Dutch their famous colours; the orange home jersey coming from the traditional colour of their most famous regent William I of Orange, while the away kit is often ‘Nassau Blue’ after the current royal family.


You can buy Picking  Up The Threads here

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