Yes more Umbro loveliness. “They’ve copied Hull City” said a few different media outlets when the new 2016-2017 shirt was unveiled to the waiting, expectant public (well, those of Wulfrunian persuasion).
Many Wolves fans that were over the age of 30 would have agreed to disagree with that because that 2016 shirt, in all its pinstriped glory, was essentially a re-tooling of this Umbro classic from the 1982-1985 seasons… and through necessity, some of the 86-87 season.
It’s taken a while to cover this one because even though it is a design classic it was around (and then stuck around because we couldn’t afford to replace it as we were too busy trying to well… keep existing) throughout unarguably the bleakest period in our existence. Even mentioning it to a fellow survivor from this period causes a shudder so let’s not go into the Bhatti business or training in the car park shall we. If you really want to delve into that then check out Crumpy’s great but depressing programme post for the Tuesday 17th September 1985 – Wolves V Bristol Rovers Canon League Division 3 1985/1986 match (spoiler – we lost on the way to our third successive relegation).
Anyway the shirt. Umbro shirts were great during this period even if the football wasn’t and this one was worn by Roger Eli for the 86/87 season. We picked up Roger from Leeds and after playing in 18 games that season he escaped for Cambridge and went on to make various moves before Eli finally settled at Burnley in 1989-1994, making 99 appearances and scoring 20 goals.
The replicas were now becoming more common in shops (mainly in kids sizes though) and as they were coming from Umbro were decent quality – being a Wolves short anorak I still see them being worn to this day. This one was shared via one of the great Wolves Facebook groups.
The thing that grated a little when they went back to pinstripes wasn’t even the premise that the club would copy this monstrosity with comically bad sponsor (I feel dirty for putting this beast on here):
…or the fact that no-one would bother to fact-check that and take it as read that Wolves would imitate Hull…
…but it was the sheer fact that in fact we played in pinstripes way back in the 1928-1929 season. So we copied Hull City presumably by travalling almost 100 years in the future presumably? Yes I know I should get over this. No I’m not going to go into “The Money Shop” sponsor. Someone else can moan about that one.
Back to the shirt, it was sponsored by Tatung (our first shirt sponsor) 1982 through to 85, we then couldn’t get a sponsor because we were in a mess, and then we got a temporary sponsor in the form of Benjamin Perry. The club literally sewed their logo over Tatung for a few months. A few months into the 87/87 season things were a bit better thanks to the efforts of Wolverhampton Council (a certain Mr Bird being pivotal) and the team resurging and we moved from Umbro to Spall… and have never used Umbro since. Presumably because we still owe them some money?
At risk of repeating myself or another blog contributor I would absolutely love a return to Umbro and the possibility that would open up for true re-issue of some of the late 70s and early 80s shirts. I think I would buy 20 of each. Maybe not this one though – it is still too soon. Better times were coming though…
Thank you to the gents concerned for providing the photos. Always on the look out for shirts we haven’t covered please. We still want to get the full set.
Apologies also for the radio silence from myself. Covid and life in general played a toll but all good now with Wolves still at the top table. It’s a good time to follow Wolves.