Aug 25

Why Bury FC changed club colours for 1962-63

Posted by Ian Nannestad

Football kits were originally designed with practical objectives in mind, indeed the very earliest ‘kits’ from the 1860s and 1870s generally consisted of the same clothes that were worn for cricket with teams distinguished by different colour caps, belts and occasionally badges, scarves or sashes. As early as 1863, for example, the Lincoln Football Club wore a badge of the Lindum heraldic arms which were to be “in the proper colours.” Examples of the team captain wearing a star or symbol on their chest to make them a target of the opposition can even be found.

From these rudimentary beginnings there developed firstly shirts in identifiable colours and patterns; these were limited by technology and the same colours that were used on ordinary clothes at the time. Shirts therefore tended to be either mono-coloured or in hoops, stripes, halves or quarters. Later shorts were added to the team colours and eventually socks to effectively create the kit that is still used today.

Team colours were initially chosen for all sorts of reasons, often because a particular colour was associated with the town, or perhaps because of the interests of the founding members. This remained the case probably until the 1930s when one or two clubs began to think more deeply about the colours worn.

One interesting example is provided by Notts County who in 1934, following a run of poor fortunes, decided to ditch their black-and-white stripes for their ‘traditional’ colours of chocolate-and-blue halves (the team’s colours in the 1880s). It was felt this would bring the team luck but in fact they finished bottom of the Second Division table that season and quickly reverted back to their former ‘magpie’ shirts.

Clothing shortages in the immediate post-World War Two era produced a number of enforced changes, often only temporary, as team’s struggled to assemble sufficient kit. Technological changes towards the end of the 1950s saw the introduction of more modern lightweight shirts and the novelty of a silk finish for use in floodlit games.

In the early 1960s Leeds United switched from their traditional yellow and blue ‘peacock’ jerseys to all white hoping that if they wore the same shirts as Real Madrid the players might actually begin to play like Real Madrid.

There was a general trend towards more simplified colour schemes that prevailed in the ‘60s and ‘70s before the emergence of the modern branded kit which has become as much a fashion and leisurewear item as a sportswear item.

As we have noted, not all kit changes were planned, but Bury’s switch from white and navy blue to white and royal blue for the 1962-63 season must be one of the more bizarre reasons for changing team colours. As the newscutting (which comes from the Bury Times for 28 July 1962) shows, the reason for this was a mistake by the manufacturers! The club had ordered navy blue shorts and socks but these had been sent in royal blue. Rather than send them back they decided to keep them, as manager Bob Stokoe noted “The colours will tone with the paintwork at the ground.” With few exceptions since then Bury have worn navy blue shorts for the last 50 years or so, all because of that mistake in the order.