‘Got, Not Got: The Lost World of Southampton’ is now available on Amazon…
You can buy it HERE…
In the meantime, enjoy David Breach’s piece on his favourite shirt…
“There have been many memorable, noteworthy and unforgettable kits – and many will look and feel better than the Rank Xerox-sponsored Southampton kit between 1980 and 1983 (the Air Florida and Draper Tools sponsored versions on exactly the same kit, don’t do it for me). But none will ever get close to being my favourite football shirt than that tight polyester, Patrick-manufactured shirt…
It provided me with my first tastes of sporting jealousy – when I attended a cricket match to watch my Dad and two kids strolled past the boundary wearing the kit, sparking the initial thought of “what is that” soon the be replaced with “oh my god, I must have that”.
It gave me my first taste of understanding that time is a concept, and that sporting time doesn’t pass as it does elsewhere. The four months from first seeing the shirt in August until receiving it for my birthday four months later seemed like a decade. Every Saturday and Sunday I would see the shirt – whether in black and white images in the local newspaper or every other week with David Bobbin commentary on Southern TV, and it just grew my desire to wear it. Even those four months would seem to pass quickly compared to the four days between birthday and Christmas when I received the matching shorts. It made me complete, and I eventually took the whole ensemble off for the first time about four years later.
It gave me my first sense of sporting belonging – in that shirt, I WAS Southampton. I was Keegan. I was Golac. I was Steve Williams. And every few months when my Mum butchered my follicles at the quarterly haircut, I WAS David Armstrong.
It gave us an easy way to differentiate teams in our primary school. Such was its popularity that lunchtime games in the playground were between those in the Saints shirt and those who weren’t (apparently some children allowed their mums to wash it) and it usually meant an equal number of players in each team.
It also gave my team an identity. In a time of fairly generic kits, we stood out from all the other red and white striped teams with our unique combinations of big white chest stripe flanked by two red thick stripes.
It perhaps even gave me my first elements of titillation. Spotting the white stripes on the underside of the arm of any long-sleeved shirt wearer (usually Steve Williams) was to witness something you were not supposed to see – a little secret that was not obvious to others.
It taught me that football pronunciations were different. It was only a few years later that I realised Xerox was pronounced “Zeer-Ox” not “Ex-er-ox”. After that, pronouncing names such as Ndlovu was a cinch.
It gave me my first sense of sporting commercialism. My father had to explain why our all too rare appearances on Match of the Day featured a sponsor-less shirt, while on other weeks we could clearly see with our own eyes at The Dell that we were emblazoned by Rank Xerox.
It gave me a sense of how red red can be. The red of our Patrick kit was so very, very red. Not like every other teams red, but a more red red.
And the fact is, that Patrick kit made us among the best in England. It wasn’t the likes of Keegan, Williams, Shilton, Danny Wallace and Steve Moran that made “little-old” us perennial cup semi-finalists and runner-up in the 1983/84 league season. No, it was the thick white chest stripe, the many lined collar, the tiny white “P” with two even smaller red and blue lines within it of the Patrick logo and the fully capitalised RANK XEROX that made us different and great.
Saints kit of 1980-1983. You were the first. The best. My one true (football shirt love). Though with hindsight, I now quite like the blue away version too.”