talkSPORT’s Scottish football correspondent Stewart Weir is back with his take on the game north of the border. It’s Tartan Talk, quite literally, as Stewart discusses Scotland’s new home and away kits.
It was a bad enough week for Scotland fans, with the rest of the British Isles collectively patting each other on the back and planning a summer of European Championship football in France, leaving us Scots feeling a bit like that advert with the old fella, sitting all alone on the moon, staring back to earth. That’ll be us come June.
However, just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse, the SFA decide to launch the new Scotland international kit, both home and away versions, the ones we’ll wear on our way to the next World Cup. Or at least, that is the plan.
Because for folk (other than the team) to wear it, they’ve got to like it. And on the current models, at best, the jury is out.
Maybe the launch time (8pm on a Sunday night) tells you all you need to know; a good time to bury bad news perhaps?
For long enough, I’ve thought that Scotland’s international kit manufacturers sent their design teams out to the pub to get blitzed, then come back with their most outlandish suggestions just to see if the SFA, and more importantly the Tartan Army hoards, would buy in to their design concepts.
It did work for a while. During the 80’s and into the 90’s, Scotland’s footballing marketeers foisted some utterly bizarre fashion upon Scotland supporters, where you didn’t so much check the label to see what washing instructions had to be followed, but to find out if you had purchased a limited edition ‘statement’ from Zandra Rhodes and Vivienne Westwood.
We had the famous ‘suspender belt’ shorts (pictured below) for Mexico ’86, followed by the beach towel away kit for Italia ’90.
The 1990’s were obviously influenced by something stronger than homeopathic medicines, evidenced by the ‘explosion in a paint factory’ away kit, soon replaced by the ‘stray firework’ design (below). Scotland even had their first fling with tartan for Euro 96 in England.
I say fling, because it wasn’t proper tartan, more a subliminal effect. But they sold, as did anything the kit manufacturers invented. Why?
Because for a long period, it didn’t really matter what style, design or outlandish colour scheme the national team was bedecked in, they won and they qualified. Everyone was happy; looking stupid wasn’t even a consideration.
However, since the turn of the century, Scotland fans have been presented with a catalogue of dodgy gear, the infamous ‘butchers apron’ being my own particular favourite to make Room 101. And that’s not even beginning to list the away uniforms the Tartan Army have collected.
There was the Drumstick Lolly/deck chair look, we’ve had Saltires, we’ve had white, yellow and even a cherry red top, the description alone telling you this belonged more on a Dulux paint chart or a fast food menu than it did on the backs of our national team.
Because that’s where we are now with the new generation away jersey. I know people have said we’re only following the likes of Juventus and Real Madrid. True, but they could model that colour with a bit of style and panache, because they were delivering the goods on the pitch – not running the risk of impersonating stranded salmon.
However, I can live with it, yes I can. My real gripe is with the ‘traditional’ blue home jersey. Cos it’s not entirely blue, and it isn’t tartan.
The splash of white could have been applied by a seagull while yet again (as with that Euro ’96 shirt) we have gone half-cock on the tartan.
Tartan is, to excuse the pun, part of the fabric of Scotland; it’s difficult not to attend some kind of social event or celebration without seeing it either as decoration, or, adorned by men and women alike.
However, it is proper tartan, whether clan, name, commemorative, regimental or city, it is a died-in-the-wool pukka tartan.
Like Croatia have successfully managed to incorporate their national flag in several designs, if Scotland want tartan, go for it. The embarrassment of looking like a Bay City Rollers tribute act would soon be forgotten about if we qualified for another major final. Consider it an incentive.
Scotland’s Rugby World Cup shirts incorporated tartan tastefully (as Gok Wan might say). So it can be done. But football learning from rugby? Nah…
For me however, we should just get back to what we’ve looked good in previously; the classic 60’s ‘Denis Law’ V-neck is still a winner with fans, while nothing since, to my mind, has come close to the Spain ’82 World Cup attire.
The one saving grace with the new garb is that it won’t be seen in France this summer. Just like Scotland.
Follow Stewart on Twitter @sweirz