What better time to take a look back at a shirt that divides opinion amongst the Molineux faithful… and which last week saw a retro re-release? It is of course the classic Goodyear tyres-inspired ‘tyre(skid?)-mark’ strip from 1992/93.
- Season: 1992-1993
- Finished: Division 1 (second tier) 11th
- Style: 1/10 or 8/10 according to taste
- Popularity: 9/10
- Quality: 6/10
- Collectibility: 8/10
- Estimated price replica: £90
- Estimated price matchworn: £700
As covered previously on this blog (and also by Wolves themselves) …Goodyear had long been associated with the Town (as it was then, City status not arriving until later) and were a few years into their 12-year Wolves shirt sponsorship. Their first effort had been very well-received – I am excluding the initial Scoreline effort that was produced as they went bust and am talking the good quality Bukta version here – and was going to be a difficult act to follow.
So what to do? Steve Plant, a well-renowned Wolves shirt aficionado (who has written an excellent book on Wolves shirts) filled us in on what happened next.
Traditionally, towards the end of a season a manufacturer preparing for the next year’s kit will turn up at the club with (normally) three prototype shirts for the club’s staff to review and choose from. We shared a vintage Umbro effort previously. On this ocassion, Wolves were moving away from Bukta (who themselves had stepped in following Scoreline folding) and had gone down the ‘in-house’ route with a smaller white-labelled manfacturer using the ‘Molineux’ brand (see other home-made efforts).
This new supplier had prepared two more ‘traditional’ efforts and wanted to create an 11th hour third option using whatever materials they happened to have to hand. I like to envisage them grabbing offcuts out of bins, drawing an approximation of skid marks on it and stitching it together while having a bit of a laugh about it before putting it into a nice bag and jumping into a Waterloo Road-bound rep’s car.
We know what happened next – the Wolves directors actually liked option #3. It was bold, it was vibrant, they knew the sponsors would love it. Best of all it was MODERN. Surely the kids would love it?
Many of them didn’t. The shirt in all its unique glory got a bit of a kicking in the stands upon release and to this day often appears within ‘worst kit’ articles online. I’ve seen it described as “…the most infamous of Wolves’ shirts” and positioned as “Presenting the early 90’s tyre track disaster!” According to the now defunct Junk Archive site: The previewing of the 1992-93 strip – a horrible concoction characterised with what can only be termed dirty tyre marks – was followed by an almighty uproar, coupled with a protest campaign led by Wolves fanatic Gwilym Machin. The club persevered with the design, which was said to be a commercial disaster.
But let’s nail our colours to the mast here – many of us loved it, and still do, including a couple of contributors to this blog.
The crests are again raised felt on the replicas, and are actually embroidered on match-prepared shirts and thus less prone to fading. This wasn’t the only difference with the player-issue versions boasting black buttons versus the orange seen on the replica shirts. Not seen this before.
Best of all, because the shirts were cut from large rolls containing the repeating concentric patterns, each and every replica and match issued shirt is unique. No two shirts were exactly the same, with all design features popping up in different places thanks to this rather outdated manufacturing process. If you wear one of these you will be as unique as a beautiful snowflake, now won’t that be lovely?
There is one caveat though – if you look closely at the main cross-hatch pattern you’ll notice that it is the same six patterns repeated again and again.
Being another early-90s effort, you’ll also notice the larger cut of the sleeves and lack of tailored fit – again different from the shirts you see nowadays which are a little more form-hugging and less likely to have you sailing over the top of the South Bank should a strong gust of wind happen.
Regardless of which side of the fence you fall with this one, in this day and age of ‘template’ replica shirts, this more agricultural and hand-cranked shirt is unlikely to be repeated and deserving of respect if not fond memories on the footballing side (you’ll note I’ve not dwelled on our 11th place finish during a difficult second season back at the second tier). Some things aren’t always worthy of in-depth repeat inspection.
Which brings us neatly to the brand new retro version by Score Draw. None of the blog contributors have our hands on them yet although will be interesting to see if these are made in the same way and are by extension unique… or if they are made in a more modern way with the same pattern on every one. It already looks as if they have the buttons from the replica version and sadly no Molineux ‘manufacturer’ logo. We shall see.
Do you already have one, want one or not dream of going near one? Let us know by leaving a comment below.