ACCRINGTON Vital Football have teamed up with Dave Moor from HistoricalKits.co.uk to bring you a short history of Accrington Stanley’s first team kits since their formation.
By David Moor
No account of Accrington Stanley’s history can ignore the role of the original Accrington FC, formed in 1878 and known as Th’ Owd Reds. Accrington wore red jerseys and white knickers, which in those days, reached well below the knee. By the time the club were voted in as founder members of the Football League in 1888 (beating local rivals Darwen FC by a single vote), the team wore navy blue knickers. Accrington resigned from the Football League rather than face relegation to the newly formed Second Division in 1893 and joined the Lancashire League. The club was wound up 1895.
Accrington Stanley was formed in 1891 as Stanley Villa FC (most of their founders lived in Stanley St, Accrington). They became Accrington Stanley in 1893 and as Th’Owd Reds declined, Stanley emerged as the town’s pre-eminent club. I have no records of Stanley’s kits before 1904, by which time they were playing in the Lancashire League: the side that won the championship that year is recorded as wearing red shirts and ‘dark knickers.’ As an amateur team, players would have been expected to provide their own kit so the team probably turned out in a motley collection of black, navy or grey knickers at the time – white knickers were smart but considerably harder to keep presentable.
Around 1910 the team were wearing plain red shirts and stockings with white knickers, a style that was retained until 1920 although the shirts did vary between buttoned and lace-up necks. During the twenties the stockings were black with two red rings on the turnover.
For the 1934-35 season, Stanley wore a bold white ‘V’ on their shirts, a popular style in the inter-war period but this was dropped the following season. The V was revived in the first part of the 1936-37 season in a slightly modified form but from January 1937, the team reverted to plain red shirts, now with hooped stockings.
I have no records for the immediate post-war seasons but in 1948-49, Stanley adopted Arsenal-style red shirts with white collars and sleeves, enhanced from 1951-52 with a red stripe on the shorts. Plain red shirts returned in 1953-54 and the following season the club’s badge appeared on the shirts for the first time. While this was not by any means unique, it was unusual for a team as lowly as Stanley to go to the expense of having badges sewn onto their shirts at this time.
In the mid 1950s the old baggy kits began to disappear and for the 1956-57 season, Stanley turned out in plain red shirts with a V neck and short sleeves (adorned with the club badge), white shorts with a red stripe and red stockings. The old heavyweight shirts were retained for use in cold weather.
For the fateful 1961-62 season, Stanley broke with tradition to adopt a radically new kit, perhaps in the hope of improving their flagging fortunes. The new shirts were white with a red band across the chest, with red and white trim at the V neck and cuffs. The shorts were black with a white (later red) stripe and the stockings were white with two red bands on the turnover. As history records, the club was unable to complete its fixtures and resigned from the Football League before the end of the season and went into liquidation.
The club struggled on until 1964 as an amateur team, which was renamed (rather ironically) Accrington FC in order to avoid liability for Accrington Stanley’s debts under the bankruptcy laws. This team wore red shirts with white V necks and cuffs, white shorts with a red stripe and red stockings.
When Accrington Stanley (1968) was formed four years later, the simplest question facing Jimmy Hinksman, faced with rebuilding the club from nothing, was what colours the team would wear. Red shirts and white shorts – no question.
In 1974, while members of the Lancashire Combination, the new Stanley adopted an all-red kit and would play in this outfit until 1990. During the 1985-86 season the team turned out in an Umbro kit identical to the one one worn by Liverpool at the time.
In 1990 the team returned to traditional red shirts, white shorts and red stockings with a kit made by Gibson’s Sportswear and sponsored by Hollands, manufacturers of the noble Lancashire pork pie.
The 1994-95 kit (made by Premier Sports) revived the white sleeves of the old Stanley club from the 1950s, albeit with thoroughly modern trimmings. Between 1996 and 2000 the kits were variations on the traditional red/white/red theme by various manufacturers and with various sponsors. All-red was worn between 2001 and 2003.
Between 2003 and 2006, Stanley wore kits from the Nike catalogue, which featured navy blue trim until 2005. It is fitting, I think, that the side that finally restored Football League status to Accrington wore the simple red shirts, white shorts and red socks associated with every club to have represented the town at the top level since Th’Owd Reds.
Since 2006, Stanley’s kit partner has been Surridge, whose designs have featured black trim. But the beginning of the 2008 season saw Accrington switch to Pro-Star.
The move wasn’t a long lasting partnership, as the club soon teamed up with international sports suppliers Joma to produce their home and away strips.
Vital Accrington would like to thank Dave for his time to do this feature and point you in the direction of his website which can be found at www.historicalkits.co.uk