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From Dial Square to the Gunners – A History of the Arsenal Shirt
Arsenal is one of the greatest and most successful football clubs in English football history. Their home ground is in North London at the Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal was originally called Dial Square and had their home in Woolwich, South East London. In 1891 the team turned professional and changed their name to Woolwich Arsenal. In 1913 they moved north to Highbury before moving to the brand new Emirates Stadium in 2006. Arsenal are also one of the wealthiest clubs in England, valued at over £600million.
Arsenal’s shirt being red in color has an equally colorful history. Once Dial Square formed, they needed a kit to play, but none could be found or donated. Among the founding players were two men recently moved south for work who were officially Nottingham Forest players. These two men responded to Nottingham Forest asking for help and received a kit and a ball. Naturally, coming from Nottingham Forest, the kit was dark red. The kit was completed with white shorts and blue socks. The fire engine red with white sleeves color scheme used today was introduced in 1933. The precise reason for the white sleeves is not known. However, one story claims a fan spotted in the stands wearing a red sleeveless sweater over a white shirt was the inspiration. This strip remained unchanged except for two seasons. The first in 1966-67 was when Arsenal wore all red shirts. The second instance of deviation dates back to 2006 when, in commemoration of the last season played at the old Highbury Stadium, the team used the blackcurrant colors worn by the first team to play there in 1913.
Yellow and blue are the colors most often used for the Arsenal away kit. However, there have been deviations from this. In 1982-1984, they wore a green and navy shirt. The lucrative market for replica shirts that emerged in the early 1990s led to Arsenal changing away shirts on a regular basis. Blue patterns were used in addition to the substitution of traditional yellow with gold. Arsenal change the away kit every season at the moment, with the kit being moved to the third kit at the end of each season.
The sewn crest on the Arsenal shirt has also changed over the years. The first crest dating from 1888 consisted of three cannons seen from above, pointing north. The Woolwich borough coat of arms was the inspiration behind this design. Each cannon was decorated with a lion’s head and a cascabel. This design was changed after the move north to Highbury. The crest with a single barrel debuted in 1925. The crest was modified again in 1949. The barrel was unchanged but the name “Arsenal” was added above the barrel. The Islington coat of arms was placed below the gun and a scroll with the club’s new motto below. In 2002, in order to create a simpler, copy-writable crest, a new crest was introduced with the barrel again facing east, the green color being replaced with dark blue.
This article has hopefully provided an interesting insight into the history of the Arsenal shirt from the amateur days of Dial Square to the big-money professional side that now ply their trade at the Emirates Stadium.
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