Can we please stop messing with the Socceroos’ kit?

by Sebastian Hassett on Apr 11, 2018

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How hard is it to design an Australian national team kit? Not hard at all. Let’s start with the basic ingredients.

Gold shirt. Green shorts. White socks.

Anything else? Preferably jet black boots, but that might be asking a bit much these days. In other words, the Australian football kit is really hard to screw up.

Unless, of course, you’re in the business of wanting to put the word “innovative” on your resume, and feel a moral duty to tear up history and tradition so you can experiment with your creative side.

For some reason, this country can’t seem to compute how simple it is to design a national team football kit that ticks a very simple set of boxes.

Gold shirt. Green shorts. White socks.

You can opt for a collar, or not. You can have some neat stripes – look at how breathtakingly simple the Adidas kits were from the mid-1980s – but that’ll do (for the record, Nike, the current designer, have generally been very good since they took over in 2005).

And thanks to my late colleague Michael Cockerill, his ongoing gift to the sport was the fight for the white socks, which became instantly iconic, and have been restored to the kit once more.

But this time, we not only mucked up the sleeves, but couldn’t get the shorts right. And so we will go to the World Cup looking like a giant banana onesie.

At least, please, if a clash prevents us from wearing green, give us the dignity of white shorts – which both Brazil and Colombia (especially so) wore in 2014, and looked good doing so. Add dark green piping and we’re away.

I was shown a copy of the Socceroos’ new kit way back in January. When I shrieked in fear, I was told it already had approval. It had been rubber-stamped enthusiastically by the FFA. Which is no great surprise, when you consider the way they often treat the game’s history.

The rush was on to try and retro-fit a story to the shirt, hence somebody at Nike or FFA HQ did a lot of Googling and managed to attach the “sea of gold” comment made by Mark Viduka in the lead up to the World Cup qualifier against Uruguay in 2005.

Crisis averted. At least until they told the public, at which point somebody reminded them that the comment actually came from an FFA press release; the giveaway was seeing the quote crafted a little-too-well with sponsors’ names of the time. Ouch. Poor Dukes.

And so our love-hate affair with Australian jersey design goes on. In a way, I love all our kits, for each has their own stories – and the fact that we can never decide between blue and green for our away kits (infamously combining both in the late 1990s).

It’s just a little bit frustrating because the 2014-2015 jerseys were so good. Our boys looked marvellous every time they played: except for the Chile match, when we wore gold shorts, eerily foreshadowing four years later. But then I see us lifting the 2015 Asian Cup, in that near-perfect kit, and realise that sanity will surely prevail again soon.

Honestly, I’d like to know more about where the buck stops with these designs. Is it Nike? FFA? Some third party? And by all means, when you get it right, we’ll applaud – and then open our wallets.

So, how to get it right next time? Put down that copy of Photoshop, take off all the filters and remember the following rule that always works.

Gold shirt. Green shorts. White socks.