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My Favourite Kit: Tottenham 1986-87 (The Rare Third Kit)

By Matt Hill

As a now-loving Tottenham supporter dragged to his first game in 1986 – I seem to remember a very dull 1-0 win over Manchester City happening at the Lane in between me requesting sweets from my dad, with Graham Roberts the man to interrupt my annoying whines with cheers – Hummel kits emblazoned with Holsten were Year Zero. What was it with Spurs and Hamburg-based companies in the Eighties? Presumably with Irving Scholar the man in the chair, there were some great tax-break opportunities.

But in among the German love-in, someone had a road accident on our traditional white. All up in your face, the home shirt was loud and proud with its complicated and busy mosaic of multi-angled arrows and lines. Meanwhile, this third-choice strip sat at the back of the bus, steely stare piercing into the distance, quietly going about its business. It was the business…

It was an important shirt for the now-thirtysomething Spurs fan for two reasons: 1) Clive Allen wore it, and 2) he didn’t wear it very often. Couple a legendary performer (49 goals in one season, lest anyone forget) with rarity and you have an icon in the making, and this cool and commanding dark blue number certainly had the hearts of Junior Spurs a-flutter.

Remember, third kits were a bit of a novelty in the mid Eighties – it’s hard sometimes in an age when you’re lucky if your club isn’t miking you with a fourth, and Spurs seem to have a different sponsor dependent on what hour of the day they play. But, then, typical Tottenham – one of the first football clubs to become a PLC and a trailblazer in maximising kits sales. Yet with young eyes devoid of cynicism, in addition to the white home and sky-blue second strips, having this occasionally winking its steely polyester eyes at you was something to behold.

And I say occasionally because… well, we hardly ever wore it. I can’t find the figures, believe me I’ve tried (it would actually be great to know, so if you do, please tell us), but I only remember seeing it a couple of times. I can’t imagine our sky-blue kit clashed with many teams – even Coventry wore blue and white stripes back then. Yet it was because it was so rarely allowed out of the dressing room that it possessed the aura of a classic. A replica rebel, a merchandise maverick. Blink and you’d miss it – so you savoured its every second.

The full kit was actually all dark blue, but the shirt looked best when coupled with the white shorts and socks of the home strip, a killer contrast. I hoped that we’d follow suit this season – our 2010/11 home shirt is hands-down the best creation any kit manufacturer we’ve entertained has come up with in a decade. Unfortunately, the away strips are a shambles, each one an entirely different design, either dull or mismatched or both.

If only Puma had just reversed the home kit, with a dark blue shirt with white-striped shoulders and shorts, there would have been a consistency, a coherence and a ‘1986/87 third kit’ kind of cool about it. But then maybe they just can’t make them like this anymore. Although, even with all its history and certified rare collectible status, you can still pick it up online for £9 less than the current Champions League shirt will set you back. I know which one I’d rather be wearing.

Matt Hill is a writer and editor who writes and edits stuff, occasionally for money. See more of him at, or follow his ramblings on Twitter: @gethill

More in the fav kits series (home kit unless otherwise stated):

Real Madrid, 2002

Arsenal 2002-04

Denmark 1986

Juventus 1995-96 (away)

Man Utd 1994-96

Cameroon 1990

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By Ollie Irish on September 16th, 2010 in Featured, Kits & fashion, Retro, Tottenham Hotspur. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

18 Responses to “My Favourite Kit: Tottenham 1986-87 (The Rare Third Kit)”

  1. Ollie Irish says:

    I’m biased, but that is one lovely shirt. Love Hummel’s 1980s work.

  2. santi says:

    That’s a nice shirt for a Hummel, wouldn’t look out of place in today’s game.

  3. helpusoutthen says:

    Where can i get this from then? i cant find any kits from ’87 to buy for myself and want one badly!!

  4. spencer kurash says:

    i owned this shirt myself. I remember it being worn in a midweek friendly at WHL. It was a 5-1 win vs Hamburg. It was the first time that Nico Claesen scored. The crowd I think was around 5000 .

  5. Ollie Irish says:

    Think eBay might be your best bet. Matt?

  6. Mark says:

    The best strip in my opinion was the short sleeved plain white shirt with blue shorts and white or yellow socks of the early 70s.
    And of course when in Europe the all white strip,both were made of cotton with none of the busy stuff plastered all over the place like now.

  7. s130178 says:

    100% the best kit , maybe because it was the first season i started watching us play all 3 kits that season are awesome , i onece sold one on ebay and it fetched £280 , would have kept it but it didnt fit , was gutted!

  8. Geir says:

    I’ve got this one in my collection. Paid £80 for it a couple of years ago, and it’s worth it! My favorite shirt by far.

  9. Random says:

    Surely anyone who keeps last seasons shirt in good condition would get a pretty penny in the future for the first season Spurs made it into the UCL. Though you have to hand it to Mr Levy this season, for getting sponsership deals for individual competitions, nightmare for the supporters for having to buy more shirts, but fair play to the club as a whole.

  10. Goodspurs says:

    Totally agree Matt, its a real beauty. Strange question but did you go to University in sunny Stoke? My housemate, of the same now, was massively into his retro gear, especially that of spurs.
    Keep up the good work. COYS

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  12. Anonymous says:

    love it. my fave is the home kit from the same season and I still have it. Hoddle, Waddle, Ardiles… sweet sweet memories! COYS!

  13. Felipe says:

    This is the first kit of my collection, it took three years for me to realize it was a Tottenham kit, as I was 13 and there were no news from English clubs in Brazil…

  14. Andy says:

    Spurs arrived at Highfield Road in December 1986 planning to wear this strip, as the sky blue away strip was obviously a no-no. The ref was unhappy that it clashed (!) with Coventry City’s sky blue and white stripes (???). The only thing for Spurs was to wear City’s yellow away strip. City won 4-3, Regis getting the winner with a header. Play up Sky Blues!

  15. John says:

    I have Nico’s match worn navy blue 3rd shirt from the 87/88 season.
    The game was against Coventry at Highfield road and I understand it was the only time
    Tottenham wore this navy blue 3rd strip in a league game.
    It’s my treasured possession as its as rare as hens teeth! COYS!!

  16. Spencer Hamilton says:

    The navy blue strip was also worn at the away game at QPR in the 86/87 season.

  17. Jonny Hill says:

    I am a Sheff Weds fan and the first game I want to at Hillsborough in April 1988: Owls 0 – 3 Spurs. Clive Allen and Nico Claesen scored, I think Paul Allen got the other. Anyway, Surs played in this shirt with white shorts and navy socks. Probably on account of Wednesday’s largely white shirt (with pin stripe blue stripes), blue shorts and white socks.

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