Jack The Lad: The third strip

9th August

In our new website feature, supporter-turned-blogger Jack the Lad kicks off his weekly installment by focusing on the Swans’ new third strip, and lifts the lid on his first ever football shirt.

The unveiling of a club's new kit is one of the most eagerly anticipated and hotly debated events of every new season.

This season, Swans fans had the unexpected bonus of a new third kit to look forward to thanks to the colour clash between this Saturday's opening-day opponents Southampton's home strip and both the Swans' traditional white home shirt and the new red away strip.

As a result, the Swans unveiled their first Premier League third kit, a rather smart black number, with white and gold trim.

I can't imagine any young Swans fans being disappointed at being bought any one of the club's three shirts.

Things have come a long way since I was a young football fan back in the 1970s. Back then replica shirts were far more scarce . . . or they were in my house anyway!

As far as I remember, my first shirt came from Woolworth. Instead of Adidas, Umbro, Bukta or any of the other popular brands back then, my shirt had the slightly less prestigious and decidedly un-cool Winfield logo transferred onto the chest.

From a distance it looked like the Manchester United kit of the early to mid-Seventies, made famous by the likes of Charlton, Law and Best.

For some, this would have been a good thing - they may have got away with people thinking they had a genuine First Division football shirt . . . as long as people didn’t get too close.

However, this was no consolation to me. First of all, I wasn’t a Manchester United fan. Secondly, keeping myself a couple of hundred yards away from anyone else wasn’t practical when you wanted to play football with them!

And thirdly, because money was tight, the shirt also had to double for rugby practice. Wearing a football shirt of any kind tended to be frowned upon in a village where the oval ball game was by far the dominant sport.

Things didn’t get any better when the shirt needed to be washed for the first time.

It’s fair to say the 100 per cent synthetic garment didn’t take well to being accidently boil washed.

On the plus side, the Winfield logo became less of a problem. It had half peeled away and was now pretty much unrecognisable. But there were far worse consequences.

Not only did the shirt shrink considerably, but the red dye of the body and sleeves ran into the previously pristine white of the collar and cuffs.

This wouldn’t be a particular problem in these more enlightened days, but you have to remember this was the mid-Seventies in a rugby-dominated South Wales mining village.

Turning up at the local park in a “soccer shirt” was bad enough, but this one was now essentially a skin-tight red crop top with three-quarter sleeves, finished off with bright pink collar and cuffs.

You can probably imagine the comments and leg pulling I endured.

Not that my legs needed any pulling in those days. To say I was gangly as I approached my teenage years would be an understatement. It’s fair to say I had a physique which would have made Peter Crouch look decidedly chunky.

My scrawny torso and skinny arms being clad in shrunken red and pink polyester didn’t really do much for my appearance.

However, what it did do was toughen me up, in a similar fashion to the character in the Johnny Cash song “A Boy Named Sue”!

There was very little the notoriously physical Neath and District Football League could throw at me during my 20 years as a parks player which could phase me after spending my formative years wearing my red and pink crop top to play football and rugby.

So in the unlikely event any youngster complains about their new Swans kit, send them around to see me, I’m sure my old shirt is lurking in the attic somewhere and they're more than welcome to it!

C'mon you Swans!

Jack the Lad