Look in the wardrobe of any Gunners fan and you’ll likely find at least one football shirt. These day’s football teams change their kits virtually every season, but that wasn’t always the case and football shirts have come a hell of a long way through the evolution of the beautiful game. 

The Past 

When football first began there were no set rules and the game was significantly more violent than it is today. There weren’t even specific rules around the number of people who could play and teams identified themselves with whatever they had to hand, be that a strip of coloured material tied to their wrist, coloured caps or coloured scarves. As the game evolved, rules began to be implemented and in 1870 the English FA first introduced uniforms to the field. Believe it or not, the game continued for 9 years more before a rule was created specifying that each team must be dressed differently from one another – imagine how confusing it must have been before! 

Manufacture

When uniforms were first introduced to football there was no specific shirt manufacturer and individuals had to have their shirts custom made by a tailor, making them a costly asset. As a result, the FA cup was largely filled with med who had some form of financial backing and it wasn’t until the Catholic church got involved that working-class men were able to afford shirts of their own. 

Now you probably know of dozens of sportswear manufacturers including Joma Teamwear, Adidas and Puma, but in the beginning, there was just one – Bukta. Bukta began production in 1879 and was dedicated to the production of athletics wear. Unlike the shirts that players wear today, all football shirts used to be long-sleeved and striped patterns weren’t introduced until 1883. To save money on shirts, country teams didn’t even have their own uniforms, and players would simply sew their country’s badge onto their team shirt for fixtures. 

Sponsorship

Modern football shirts would look odd without the logos of their sponsors that adorn them, but traditional football shirts didn’t have sponsors all the way up to 1976 when Kettering Town became the first club to sign a sponsorship deal with local tyre manufacturer, Kettering Tyres. Now, Football would be lost without its sponsorship income and it’s hard to imagine the sport without it. 

The Future

Football shirts nowadays represent how far football as a game has come. The shirts are now technological advancements in themselves, created from the finest, breathable materials and ever-changing to become more comfortable and performance-enhancing. Shirts even now contain GPS tracking devices helping managers to track the performance of their players including their distance travelled, their speed and the number of sprints they perform during the game. 

In the future who knows where football uniforms will go, to what heights they will reach and how many variations they will work through, but one thing is for sure, you’ll still find them hanging up in every fans closet as a reminder of the team and game they love.