The Admiral kits from the 1970’s and 1980’s hold a special place in the hearts of those of us who are of a certain age. Despite being basic, they were truly beautiful. In my opinion, they are the greatest kits of all time, except perhaps for Ipswich Town’s original Pioneer kit. In this article, I will be sharing my personal top 10 favourite Admiral kits. Although Admiral had been producing sports kits since before the start of the Great War, it was only after England won the World Cup and the introduction of colour television that they realised there was a market for football kits, especially replica shirts.
Admiral created the kit for Leeds United during the 1973-74 season, marking the first prominently branded kit in English top-tier football. The FA swiftly recognised the potential of the replica market and inked a five-year agreement with Admiral to produce England team kits, ultimately making the initial commercially available England kits accessible for purchase.
Soon enough, Admiral’s impressive resume included renowned football clubs such as Manchester United, Coventry City, Portsmouth, Tottenham Hotspur, Southampton, Norwich, and West Ham, as well as multiple Scottish teams and the entirety of the NASL.
As the 70’s turned into the 80’s the giants like UMBRO and ADIDAS entered the football shirt market and ADMIRAL went into liquidation before making a less glorious comeback a year or so later in 1983.
Before we had to the Top Ten I’ll give a Highly Commended to this offering from Southampton for my pal Neil.
So what makes the top 10? Read on to find out.
10 . Wales 1976 – 1979
This shirt was worn in qualification for both the 1978 World Cup and 1980 European Championships by such Wales legends as John Toshack, Mickey Thomas and Terry Yorath.
9. Spurs 1977 – 1980
A basic white kit with blue trimmings and a very prominent cockerel. Made famous by two of the greatest imports into English football in Osvaldo Ardiles and Ricky Villa
8. Leicester City 1983-1985
Worn by the likes of Gary Lineker and Alan Smith and was one of the first to be produced using the new shiny synthetic look moving away from the heavy cotton shirts of the 70’s
7. Norwich City 1978
A controversial choice but I like it’s simplicity. That’s all I’m saying
6. Leeds United 1978
Another simplistic design which I believe is hated among the Leeds faithful. All the more reason to include it here then.
5. Manchester United 1975 – 1979
It’s hard to believe but Manchester United wore this kit for 3 to 4 seasons. When I see it I think of Stevie Coppell and the Greenhoff brothers.
4. England 1974 – 1980
Even harder to believe than Man Utd wearing the same kit for 4 years England wore the same one for 6 years. An awesome kit which sadly coincided with a woeful time on the pitch.
3. Crystal Palace Away 1978
A move away from the basic designs with an continental type sash. This design has since been copied but never beaten.
2. Coventry City Away 1978 – 1980
This normally finds it’s way onto worst kit lists but I think there’s something uniquely beautiful about it’s horribleness.
1. England 1980 – 1983
What a shirt. This upset the purists who raged because of the colourful trimmings. This time? Remembered fondly being worn by Butcher, Mills and Mariner in England’s unbeaten world cup campaign of 1982. Another tournament we probably should have won.