Over the years a lot can change within a football club, from new owners, to new managers, to new players. One thing that often remains the same, at least to a large extent, is the club’s kit. This article will explore the history of the Tottenham Hotspur home kit, examining its origin and the changes that have taken place in the century and a quarter since then.
Tottenham Hotspur were founded in 1882 by a group of schoolboys. For the first 13 years the club was amateur, like many teams of that period, but in 1895 it turned professional. In the modern day, Tottenham are known for their white shirt and dark blue shorts but this was not always the case.
What colour was the first Tottenham kit?
The first recorded Tottenham kit was their 1883 home strip, worn the season after their founding. Surprisingly, this kit was not white with blue shorts. Instead, It was a navy blue shirt with white bottoms and navy blue socks, the reverse of the modern colours. In the years following this, the colour of the kit changed dramatically. From 1884 to 1888, it was half light blue and half white, still with white bottoms and navy blue socks. However, from 1890 to 1896, it was an unthinkable colour, one that no Tottenham fan would expect… Red! The colour of Arsenal, their biggest rivals.
Eventually, in 1898, Tottenham had their first all white football shirt. From then on, every home shirt was similar to the one we know today. That year they also switched to navy blue shorts, still maintaining their navy blue socks. An interesting aspect of the kits from this time period is their lack of many features currently associated with modern kits. The Lilywhites didn’t actually have a club badge on their shirt until 1921. In the years before, the top was completely plain, apart from the very first recorded kit that had a ‘H’ (for Hotspur) on as its badge.
For the next 58 years, practically nothing changed apart from the socks. The socks chopped and changed, from navy blue, to white, to a combination of both. The shirt remained all white with navy blue shorts. It wasn’t until 1956, when the club made a switch to white shorts instead of navy blue. By this point, the kit was almost all white apart from a small navy blue ring around the top of the socks. Interestingly, this was an unusual year where most clubs had two home kits. One from September to December and one to finish the season. The difference was the kit used for the first part of the season (known as the floodlights kit) was the all white one, whereas the other still had the traditional navy blue shorts. Since that season, up until 1985, Spurs only used white shorts for European games.
For the first century of the club’s history, the shorts had always been completely plain. But, in 1980, they incorporated the club badge, an addition that has been on the shorts ever since. The 80s were a turning point for Tottenham’s home kit. The club started to become more creative and the kits started to change more, from season to season. It wasn’t until around 1985 that kits started to include all of the modern details. The 1985 kit had embellishment on the sleeves as well as small navy blue lines across the chest. This deviation from the traditional plain Tottenham kit seemed to go down well as a whole, as can be seen in their more recent offerings.
Patterned sleeves became more common towards the turn of the century, with some kits featuring navy sleeves and others having stripes. Still though, the similarities with the very first white kit from 1898 showed the club’s desire to stick to tradition.
As the club entered the modern era of the 2000’s, the kit remained predominantly white with some navy trimmings. It wasn’t until the 2009/10 season that a new colour was added to the Tottenham home shirt, when a yellow strip was featured on the sides of the kit. The kit returned to normal for the following seasons, before yellow was used again 4 years later, in the 2014/15 season.
In the last three seasons the club again returned to its roots, with a white shirt, navy blue shorts and white socks. Very traditional.