By Phil Hecken, with Kyle Evans & CJ Fleck
As we kick off (pun intended) my final week handling the weekdays, I’m pleased to bring back to gentlemen who’ve basically handled all the soccer on Uni Watch for 2016 — CJ Fleck and Kyle Evans — and who are here today to bring us their reviews of the 2016-17 EPL (English Premier League) kits. There’s a lot to get to, so let’s get started. You can click the pics below to enlarge.
Premier League Kits
By Kyle Evans & CJ Fleck
Thanks Phil! We’re happy to check back in again and we really hope everyone has enjoyed our soccer uniform rundowns and ratings that have appeared here in the last six months. This time, we’re taking a look at all of the English Premier League kits for this season, which kicked off during the final weekend of the Olympics. The first noteworthy visual change is that the league itself dropped the sponsorship from the name and changed their league logo and font, with the before and after shown below. As in the past, teams will wear the league logo on one of their jersey sleeves during league games. This can be seen in some of the uniform pictures and a missing league logo simply means the picture came from a preseason friendly rather than a league game.
Kyle: The Gunners have 3 kits – their classic red and white home but with a darker red center vertical stripe, a yellow and navy away with a collar, and a black and neon third. I’m not sure I understand the darker red stripe, and although Arsenal traditionally wear yellow/blue in their away, I’m not a fan of the design/template around the armpit area. And why does neon continue to appear on soccer uniforms? (Unfortunately, it gets worse.) Rating: 3 stars home, 2 stars away, 2 stars third
CJ: The dark red looks like a sweat stain in a very specific place. The blue and yellow kit is modern, but not too bad. As for the third, “neon” and “garish” may as well be synonymous. Good/good/stupid.
Kyle: Bournemouth have a new version of their traditional red and black vertical stripe home, a blue and light blue horizontal stripe away, and a (yup) neon third. I like how the striping pattern is identical on the blue jersey and socks, and why is neon used as the primary color of any jersey? (Unfortunately, it still gets worse.) Rating: 4 stars home, 4 stars away, 1 star third
CJ: Stripes, beautiful stripes! The hoops on the blue are a little too subtle for my tastes, but definitely a nice move. But of course we must finish with more eye gouging neon. Good/good/stupid.
Kyle: Burnley have home and away versions utilizing their claret and blue, and the only differences other than swapping the colors is the end of sleeve stripe and the collar appearing on the home jersey. I like those colors, but I’m not sure about the shorts options being white and black, which looks particularly disconnected on the away. Rating: 4 stars home, 3 stars away
CJ: I’ve stated a love of collars before and I’ll repeat it here. Not a fan of anything over two solid pieces as I’ve also stated before. Mark these begrudgingly good/good.
Kyle: The Blues have an all-blue home and an all-white third which are effectively color swapped (minus end of sleeve stripes) and a black away with gray horizontal stripes and neon elements. Can’t go wrong with the simple home and third, but even as a Chelsea supporter, I can’t support that away kit. Rating: 5 stars home, 2 stars away, 5 stars third
CJ: Simplicity and elegance from one of the top clubs. Except that black away that reminds me of tire treads, which is appropriate given the sponsor. Good/stupid/good.
Kyle: Crystal Palace have a home jersey that can be described as blue with wide red sides and sleeves or red with a large blue center stripe and a yellow away with a red and blue sash. I like that the home design is different and I think it works here and I really like the team colors sash, but not the overwhelming amount of yellow. Rating: 4 stars home, 2 stars away
CJ: Contrary to Kyle I am a fan of the away. Love the sash design as well as the somewhat muted color choice of yellow; it works well with the red and blue. Oh, and the home is great too. Good/Good.
Kyle: The Toffees have a blue and white home but with a touch of yellow added to the sleeves, shorts, and socks, an all-black with some orange away, and a yellow and blue third. I really like the yellow as a minor accent color, but not as the primary color, and Everton’s away happens to be effectively exactly the same as Hull City’s and in their colors. Rating: 5 stars home, 2 stars away, 2 stars third
CJ: Some teams retain their elegance while also making minor mistakes. Everton’s addition of yellow accents is a prime example of this. I’d also say the black away is fine, if only they didn’t go with orange. The third…at least it isn’t neon? Good/good/good.
Kyle: The Tigers have wide orange and black vertical stripes on their home jersey, and an all-black away with orange elements. Call me a traditionalist, but I like when teams actually use their team colors in both their home and away kits. Rating: 4 stars home, 3 stars away
CJ: Points off on the home for the odd Y shaped collar design, but I agree with Kyle on keeping color schemes. Good/good.
Kyle: The stunning league champions from last season, Leicester City return with an all-blue home, an all-red with a subtle gradient from lighter to darker red away, and an-all white with blue pinstripes third that unlike the home and away, does not feature a collar. The gradient is unnecessary, but otherwise, this is a clean uniform set. Rating: 5 stars home, 3 stars away, 5 stars third
CJ: More collars! And pinstripes as well! Count me in. Red is an admittedly odd choice, but the execution could be much worse. Good/good/good.
Kyle: Liverpool have an all-red home, an all-black away with red side stripes, and an all-neon (yup!) third with a gray shoulder/sleeve stripe. I actually kind of like the red stripes and how they stand out against the black, and why is that third allowed to exist? Rating: 5 stars home, 4 stars away, 0 stars third
CJ: Beautiful home, mildly interesting away, and a borderline crime of a third. They look like a training top. Good/good/stupid.
Kyle: The only Premier League team outfitted by Nike, Manchester City has a pair of jerseys each using the template seen on many of the national teams over the summer, with the home using a darker blue on the sleeves and the away using maroon on the sleeves to complement the black jersey and yellow elements. No more complaints about the template from me, my biggest problem here is with the color combination on the away. Rating: 4 stars home, 2 stars away (and a preemptive 0 stars for their leaked third which features an orange to purple gradient)
CJ: Not a terrible use of the template on the home, but the away color scheme looks terrible to me. Good/stupid/assuming stupid.
Kyle: The Red Devils have three different Adidas designs – a home red/darker red divided by small hexagons, a blue away incorporating a “heathered t-shirt” look, and a white third with small black to gray hexagons used as a shoulder/sleeve stripe. All of the kits are unique, but at the same time seem to go together as well. The only thing I would change is the color of the blue shorts to match the jersey/socks, but otherwise well done. Rating: 5 stars home, 4 stars away, 5 stars third
CJ: Adidas has artfully crafted some new ideas without going over the top. I especially enjoy the heathered look, though not with the red. Good all around.
Kyle: Newly promoted Boro have a red home jersey with a wide white and thin blue diagonal stripe on the bottom portion and a light blue and navy blue away including a gradient chevron which matches the template of the current Houston Dynamo away jersey. I don’t like that lower stripe, particularly with the white shorts and I find it interesting that an EPL and MLS team have effectively the same uniform. Nice color combinations though. Rating: 3 stars home, 4 stars away
CJ: Odd and unique without being ridiculous; Boro should be proud. A little underwhelmed by the away, but I’ll take it. Good/good.
Kyle: Southampton are newly outfitted by Under Armour and have a home kit featuring a white panel for logos and an identical red and white striping pattern on the jersey, side of shorts, and socks along with a black and gray away kit. I absolutely love the home striping and the use of black and will even forgive that white panel as a result, but there’s nothing to forgive on the away. Black and gray? Rating: 5 stars home, 2 stars away
CJ: I’m not sure I can forgive the white panel and the striped piping. The whole home seems like everybody in the meeting got to contribute a design element. Plus, the white panel seems designed to highlight the UA logo. I don’t think I have to address the away. Stupid/stupid.
Kyle: Stoke have a newer version of their classic red and white vertical stripes with a collar as well as an all-sky blue away without a collar. Nothing wrong with the home, but I’m left wanting something else or something more for the away. Rating: 5 stars home, 3 stars away
CJ: An elegant home with a boring away. You could have had collars on both, Stoke! Good/good.
Kyle: Sunderland have a red and white vertical stripe home with gold accents, a white with blue gradient sash away, and a pink and purple (!) horizontal striped third. Love the home, wondering why the sash is a gradient rather than a solid color, and umm their third is…different? I still think Liverpool’s third is worse, but let’s just say this color combination doesn’t exactly work. Rating: 5 stars home, 3 stars away, 1 star third
CJ: A simple home, an understated yet problematic away, and an ungodly abomination of a third. It all started so well and went downhill so quickly. Good/good/stupid.
Kyle: Swansea have an all-white home and a turquoise to navy gradient away. I’m left wanting some use of black on the home jersey and if a jersey has to be gradient, there’s a lot worse than this one. Rating: 4 stars home, 3 stars away
CJ: Enough with the gradients! Also, ditch the black socks. Good/stupid.
Kyle: Spurs have a white home with navy shoulders and gold accents, an all-navy away with gold sleeve stripes, and a mustard third with navy pinstripes. Kudos to sticking to a color scheme throughout the uniforms which many teams can’t say, but that navy shoulder design on the home jersey is off-putting to me. Of the three, the away is easily my favorite – clean design and solid color combination. Rating: 3 stars home, 5 stars away, 2 stars third
CJ: I have to second Kyle on the home’s shoulder element. As well, the away keeps the advertising in the color scheme, something more teams should consider. The third is solid; I like the pinstripes. Good/good/good.
Kyle: Watford have a yellow/black/yellow home kit with a red side stripe on the jersey, and an all-white away with black sleeves. They’re also the only team in the league in which each jersey option features a collar. I love the use of team colors and the red stripe on the home, and I guess their new uniform supplier played it safe with the away? Rating: 5 stars home, 3 stars away
CJ: You know the collar love is coming from me at this point. I enjoy the simplicity of the home, but cannot stand the away’s sock choice. I don’t understand this trend, and I don’t like it. Good/good.
West Bromwich Albion
Kyle: West Brom have a white and navy vertical stripe home which also includes light blue trim, and an all-navy away with light blue pinstripes and trim. Again, I tend to like the continuity of colors between the uniforms and call me a fan of this set and the light blue pinstripes. Rating: 5 stars home, 5 stars away
CJ: Love the home, but pinstripes can’t save the away. That’s a neon color and you know it, West Brom. You’re not fooling me. Good/stupid.
West Ham United
Kyle: West Ham have a new stadium (the renovated Olympic Stadium from London 2012) and a new version of their claret and sky blue home as well as a white away with sky blue shorts. Love the home and again, the use of team colors in each kit. Rating: 5 stars home, 4 stars away
CJ: Can’t argue with what Kyle said. Good/good.
Sweet stuff! Thanks, guys!!!
Well readers (especially you soccer/EPL guys & gals — and I know you’re out there) — what do you think?
The Wonderful Story of the Millard North Tape Job
A short while ago, I received a note from reader Patrick Homa, who noticed I had retweeted this:
MN will wear BLUE tape this year in memory and celebration of the life of Lane Graves ðŸ”µ pic.twitter.com/BOZ4pRPS5s
— Millard North HS (@MillardNorthHS) August 25, 2016
(That also appeared in the ticker for that day or the next day).
In his initial note, Patrick wrote:
My name is Patrick Homa and I have been a daily Uni Watch reader for almost 4 years. First off, you, Paul, and the rest of the Uni Watch team do an outstanding job keeping those of us who “Get It” up to speed.
I wanted to reach out because today, I saw you retweeted Millard North HS’s updated football helmet with the unique blue tape job running around the helmet. I attended Millard North in Omaha, Nebraska from 2007-2011 and played football there, and I wanted to contact you to see if you would have any interest in posting anything about the story and tradition behind the tape job. To my knowledge, we were/still are the only team out there with this helmet style, and it has achieved a level of reverence amongst the coaches, team, and school. Here’s the story:
In the late ’90s, (1997 I believe), Millard North (MN) was in a game in which they were losing by a few touchdowns. Since the 80s, we have run an old-school wingbone option offense, which always makes our quarterback the most important player on the team. In the ’97 game, our QB had one of his top chinstrap buckles break after taking a hit to the region. So he could still play, he taped up his helmet like you see now to hold the chinstrap in place. Legend has it that MN came back to win the game, and ever since, we tape up our helmets every season. The tape is like a badge of honor: only the varsity players are allowed to do it (sorry freshmen and JV teams), and we never tape our helmets until the first game – kind of like how the Cowboys “earn” the Star on the side of their helmets. Most players not remove the tape if we are on a winning streak and will add 2-3 layers each week – the band can get really thick by the end of the season if we are particularly good that year! Millard North is the most successful football program in Nebraska in terms of wins and state titles, and our head coach has been there since the early 80s. It is a very special and unique tradition, and something I thought would be interesting to use on the site, or at the very least, give you something entertaining to read about!
Sorry to send such a long email, but I hope you enjoyed reading about it. I can certainly go into more detail if you would like. Keep up the great work at Uni Watch! Although I am an alum of TCU and have a contradictory opinion of the color purple to you and Paul, I can assure you that your site has provided a source of great interest and enjoyment for me.
Thank you and have a great day!
Intrigued, I asked if Patrick would like to follow up — and after a few back and forths (and since he attended, I asked him for a couple photos/recollections of himself!), he obliged. What follows is wonderful. Here’s his story (click any photo below to enlarge):
Omaha, Nebraska’s Millard North High School has always taken a no-frills, simple approach to its football uniforms: solid blue home uniform, white away uniform, and silver pants. However, when fans shift their view to the helmets, they see one of the most unique helmet designs in the country.
With the Mustangs being the school mascot, many wonder why there isn’t any sort of logo on the helmet. The story behind the helmet tape is largely unknown, but it has become a distinguishing symbol of the Mustangs throughout Nebraska. I attended Millard North from 2007-2011 and played for the football team and am one of the few who is familiar with the mystique of “The Tape”.
The Tape has taken on a sort of legendary status amongst the football team over the years. In the ’80s and early ’90s, the school had a blue version of the SMU Mustang logo on its helmets.
The Tape made its first appearance in the late ’90s, (1996 I believe). Millard North was in a game in which they were losing by a few touchdowns. We have had the same head coach since the early ’80s, and he has always run an old-school wingbone option offense, which makes the quarterback the most important player on the team. In the ’96 game, the quarterback took a hit to the side of his helmet and one of his top chinstrap buckles broke. To stay in the game, he taped up his helmet to hold the chinstrap in place. Legend has it that MN came back to win the game, and ever since, we tape up our helmets every season.
The Tape has become a badge of honor: only the varsity players are allowed to do it (sorry freshmen and JV teams), and we never tape our helmets until the first game – similar to how the Dallas Cowboys “earn” the Star on the side of their helmets in training camp. Most players not remove the tape if we are on a winning streak and will add 2-3 layers each week – the band gets quite thick by the end of the season if we are particularly good that year! Players frequently use their tape to write messages, quotes, tributes to injured players, etc.
In recent seasons, the team has altered the tape color to show support for causes. Last season, the team used pink tape to support a teacher who is a breast cancer survivor.
This season, the team will be sporting blue tape in support to Nebraskan Lane Graves, the toddler tragically killed at Disney World this summer, and his family.
Millard North is the most successful football program in Nebraska in terms of wins, playoff appearances, and state titles. Tradition is a vital part of the program and The Tape is the most special and unique. The feeling you get taping up your helmet for the first time is one that you will never forget.
Thanks so much for sharing the story, Patrick!
Brinke’s Question of the Week
Yeah, I know.
This is usually Mike Chamernik‘s territory — but after begging Mike for two QOTW’s over the past month (and knowing he’s come up with some fantastic ones), our own Brinke Guthrie asked if I was interested in having a Question of the Week from him.
Well, of course. I love the QOTW — maybe I’ll do them occasionally when I return to the weekends, but for now…we’ll see what Brinke has to say. Here’s Brinke:
When you move, who do you then pull for? Does your allegiance to your former teams get packed in the U-Haul along with your team tees and jerseys, or do you do a loyalty reboot when you pull in to your new home?
After all, as Jerry Seinfeld famously put it, “we’re just rooting for the clothes.”
For example, growing up in Louisville, once I discovered the Reds and Bengals, that was it. We moved to Dallas, and I didn’t give those teams a second thought, — I had the Cowboys and the new Rangers. Went to Sanger Harris department store and got this jersey. Whoops, only one year in Dallas, and back to the midwest, and Cincinnati — so I signed up with the Reds and Bengals again. I stayed a Cowboys fan, but the Rangers faded. Can’t say what happened to my Cowboys/Rangers stuff back then, but I do recall one of the first things I bought upon arriving in Cincinnati was one of these Bengals jackets.
Great question, Brinke. Normally I “play” along with the QOTW, but since I’ve never really moved anywhere that wasn’t close to where I was born (I’ve *moved* a bunch of times, including my four years to upstate New York for college — but it was either there or to some other place on Long Island). The only *loyalty* I may have even had a chance to build from upstate was maybe the Buffalo Bills (they always had the Sunday game on NBC then), but that wasn’t going to happen. But what about you guys (and gals) who have moved? What did you do?
T-Shirt Club launch: Hi, folks. Paul here, with our latest Uni Watch T-Shirt Club design.
Before I get to it, some news: We are no longer doing these shirts via Teespring. This isn’t due to any specific problems or issues with Teespring (although I did have some concerns about a few aspects of working with them), but rather because my creative partner on the T-Shirt Club project, Bryan Molloy, no longer works at Teespring. He now works for a company called Represent, which operates almost exactly like Teespring does. From your standpoint, the customer experience should be virtually identical.
Now then: Our latest shirt is devoted to soccer. Here’s the design (for all of these images, you can click to enlarge):
We’re offering this design in four different shirt colors — maroon, black, dark green, and heather grey:
The shirt is available here. As of now, the sales listing shows that the shirt is available until Sept. 10, but that will be changed to Sept. 7 or 8. That’s still a bit longer than our usual one-week period — I want to build in some extra time because of the Labor Day weekend, and also because traffic here on the site is a bit lower during my August break. Basically, I just want to make sure everyone has a chance to see and order the shirt.
While we’re at it, this is a good time to mention something that’s been on my mind: Reader Nathan Stewart recently suggested that there should really be a Uni Watch baseball cap. It’s true that we’ve never had one (unless you count this), and I agree that it would be a fun thing to offer. But what would the design be? I don’t think a “UW” logo would work, because that’s too closely associated with the University of Washington.
So I’ve decided to hold a design contest to create a Uni Watch baseball cap. The contest will be held soon — probably next month. The winning designer will receive $100 and a free cap, and the winning design will be put into production and offered for sale. Speaking of which: There are lots of companies out there that make ballcaps, and I have no idea which ones are better than others. Ideally, I’d like to find a company that operates like Teespring and Represent (i.e., the company will offer a fixed-time-period campaign, manufacture the proper number of caps based on the number of orders, and handle all the shipping). If anyone has a specific recommendation, I’m all ears.
More on that later. Meanwhile, one more time, the soccer shirt is available here. My thanks, as always, for your consideration.
By Alex Hider
Baseball News: The Blue Jays wore red on Sunday for Canada Baseball Day (from Phil). … Whoever made this Facebook ad is a little confused (from Tony Crespo). … The Atlanta Braves appeared as the Boston Red Caps on Google different points over the weekend (from Douglas Ford). … The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRaiders wore “Pierogies” jerseys on Friday. Their opponent, the Rochester Red Wings, wore a mix of NOB and NNOB (from Michael Slesinski).
NFL News: Did the Raiders add a black outline to their numbers this year? Sure looks like it (from Ramon Meza). … 49ers fans are burning their Colin Kaepernick jerseys after he failed to acknowledge the National Anthem on Friday. … The NFL has new official coins for the coin toss. Here’s what they looked like last year (from David Firestone). … The Broncos’ C.J. Anderson suffered a huge jersey tear this weekend (from Matt Barnett).
College Football News: New uniforms for Houston, via a read who did not provide his name. … According to Zach Mallory, Oregon will wear six different pairs of pants this season. … For those interested, here’s the logo guidebook for Colorado State University (from Douglas Ford). … Davenport University played their first football game this weekend, sporting a black and red look (from Joe Holloman). … This is what the Big XII would look like if the team’s bands played football (from Nathan Gruber).
Hockey News: The owners of the NHL’s new Las Vegas hockey franchise have filed for trademarks for Desert Knights, Golden Knights and Silver Knights. Each nickname was filed with location name “Las Vegas” and “Vegas” (from Ted Arnold). … Great piece about a Blues prototype jersey that never made the ice, and its journey through the years (from Tom Donnelly). … Looks like Germany’s Thomas Greiss will be using fauxback goalie pads for the World Cup of Hockey (from John Muir). … Cory Schneider of the US will be wearing flag-themed pads (from Mike Engle). … In 1966, a thief made off with 50 jerseys from the Red Wings locker room. A team official said the damages were $1,000 ”” just $20 a jersey (from JW).
Soccer News: Here’s more on Arsenal’s 2016-17 kits (from Trev). … New kits for VMI (from Scott Wood). … Thanks to Google Translate, we know that Chivas will wear special uniforms for their 110th anniversary (from Josh Hinton).
Grab Bag: Ralph Lauren unveiled the American team uniforms for the Ryder Cup yesterday (from Phil). … Parish Parcel, a Louisiana food subscription service, is selling these T-shirts (with an awesome logo) in support of communities devastated by recent floods. They’ll donate 100 percent of the sales to relief organizations (from Daniel Fontenot). … Sorry Paul, but there was a ton of purple at the Minnesota State Fair on Friday in memory of Prince (from Booted Newswoman). … Looks like Texas high school football is buying into the whole Color Rash thing (from DJMFF).
And that’s it for today. Thanks to Kyle & CJ for that in depth EPL (p)review, Patrick for the wonderful helmet tape piece, Brinke for the QOTW (hope Mike’s not mad!) and Alex for the ticker! Phew. Oh, and make sure to check out the new UW t-shirt offering!
Tomorrow, be sure to tune back in to Uni Watch — as Paul will have the HUGE GIANT MASSIVE NCAA Football rundown over on the Mothership, and we’ll be previewing it here! It’s my second mostest favorite ESPN column by Paul each year (trailing only the MLB Preview). Can’t wait for that!
And Wednesday, I’ll be announcing the winners (yes, there are TWO) of the Griffins Alternate Jersey Design contest, among other great stuff. It may be the doldrums of summer, but there’s big stuff this final week of August right here on Uni Watch. Till tomorrow…
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHecken.
“The Dodgers are still having problems with striped socks. I can understand, the last time they wore striped hosiery was when God turned on the lights.”