Saturday, 25 July 2015

Exclusive: Cherries' Premier League Kit Parade

In an exclusive piece for Cherry Chimes, Gareth Davies, the club’s very own replica expert and author of Shirt Tales, gives his views on the brand new kits that will accompany Bournemouth during their maiden Premier League season.

Gareth has written a long feature here so eyes down for a good read.

Follow Gareth on Twitter: @garphied

The wait is finally over! After much conjecture and speculation during the off season about design, sponsor, even manufacturer, the grand unveiling of the most eagerly anticipated ensembles Bournemouth will ever be resplendent in has finally taken place. In some respects, like many other pre-season occurrences, the inauguration of each kit has been something of a rushed affair, although at least the delay meant something other than away tickets or loyalty points to talk about on message boards and social media!
Elliot Ward models the new home kit.
Like the ticketing difficulties though, most of the delay in revealing the new designs were circumstances out of the clubs control. There were some that weren’t however, but those conditions of deferral influenced within the corridors of Dean Court were of significant importance. I’m talking the new sponsorship deal specifically with the latter, whilst actual shirt production for the former.

It’s a complicated process designing a new playing kit, far more intricate than you could first imagine, throw into the mix the fact all three for the forthcoming season would be debuting in the biggest domestic league globally and perhaps you may release why everything took so long. The manager, players, commercial department, media team, sponsor and not forgetting the manufacturer all have to agree on a design or colour shade before moving forward and just like any artistic creation, the first attempt isn’t always right. This is possibly the only drawback from our excellent deal with JD Sports, one which sees us have three bespoke kits every year - I know one has been recycled from last season, but when it had so much love and success in our Championship winning campaign, I’m sure nobody will begrudge its reappearance! 

An individual approach from JD is something I continually bang on about to those who wish we could have Nike or similar as our supplier. If we went with them, the process of coming up with the final design wouldn’t be as lengthy or diligent, far quicker in fact, but it would mean we get an off the peg template. No thanks. Zero individuality and 100 per cent laziness from all concerned.

Now these types of arrangement are nothing new in the world of football kits, a look back through any of those classic adverts in magazines like Shoot! will see many teams in similar outfits, the differences between then and now being that not only were the designs more innovative, they almost certainly weren’t hand me downs from the big teams – think Barcelona to Charlton from last season as an example.

So three unique designs to AFC Bournemouth, but this alone doesn’t always guarantee a positive reaction from supporters. We’ve been royally spoilt in recent years as JD Sports have done nothing to dispel my well guided theory that they are our best ever apparel partner, so any negativity has been minimal and often without proper substance. Would then, the most eagerly awaited kit trilogy in our history prove anything other than a continuation of the norm we’ve become accustomed to under JD? Sadly not quite, although it’s not all doom and gloom.
Junior Stanislas has already scored in the new home kit.
The home kit is probably the most disappointing of the three, a real shame as this will be the outfit worn more than any other during the upcoming debut top flight term. Trust me though, it’s not the worst that will be showcased in the Premier League, far from it, as obnoxious creations like the Southampton away, or Watford home offerings will be clear winners of that unwanted accolade. 

Of course the stripes that we now consider common place are present, along with classy gold trim which features on the black shorts and socks too, but there is a twist with this new design as the front detail sees the vertical lines only run down 2/3rds of the shirt. I don’t mind the gap at the bottom, but I’m not overly keen on the black band at the top. If it was supposed to house the JD logo and Cherries crest then it’s failed to do that particular job so why not just continue the stripes all the way up? Peculiar, especially as the maker and club motifs stand out just fine without having to be placed in a black box, unlike new sponsor Mansion. This was my one big reservation when the fresh backers were announced, how would their branding sit on our stripes? Pretty well would be the conclusion to that misgiving, as Mansion’s colours of red black and gold fit perfectly and the housing looks okay too, which is a relief as sometimes this can damage a kits standing beyond all repair.

With the sponsor looking good, the front a little baffling but more than acceptable, what else is there that sees it come up short?

Now I get that as this is JD’s only Premier league deal they want to maximise their brand profile, and I don’t have a problem with the Carbrini logo disappearing off the shirts, but what I’m not overly keen on is JD’s sleeve branding, or ‘iconic JD roundels’ to quote their proper marketing speak title. Too big and overbearing for my liking, half the size and they would be perfectly acceptable, although they will draw prominence to the Premier League patches so perhaps that was the thinking all along. Still, they just don’t look right whatever the reasoning and after toning down the branding with Carbrini last year, JD has cranked things back up to the Fila levels.

The mention of the word back brings us onto another debatable shirt facet which hasn’t been seen for many years, but fair play to the clever so-and-so who came up with the idea of a solid rear panel to house the players name and number, you’ve had a blinder. The shirt will look odd without ‘Elphick 5’ or ‘Wilson 13’ for example so more will be sold with personalisation of a favourite player than not, meaning more money generated through merchandise sales. Personally I don’t begrudge this idea at all and just to add, the designated space isn’t a Premier League requirement, it’s optional.

That’s definitely the negatives out of the way, thankfully, although perhaps I’m being too critical as after our recent treats from JD, this is by no means a failure. I can see why there has been tinkering with the traditional striped design, but perhaps only a slight tweak on last year’s magnificent principle combination would have sufficed. The one problem we will always be faced with is by having such a unique striped arrangement and colour scheme, providing enough variation so each new release is different from the last will mean that something left field will appear every now and then, exactly the case with this offering.
Harry suggests we'll look pretty in pink.
A pink logo too!
A little different the home kit definitely is, but nothing in comparison to the third! I must admit to being ultra apprehensive when I found out a few months back that it would be pink, of the rich Real Madrid variety too and not a lighter hue a la Palmero. I can’t really put my finger on why either. Perhaps it’s because pink, like any of the day glow colours, just isn’t a colour that you would associate with a football shirt. But it worked for Ronaldo, Bale and co so why not for us? Well actually it has, and rather well too!

The use of white as a secondary colour is the perfect complement to pink, this meaning the JD branding looks far more in keeping with the rest of the shirt. The neck trim and underarm detail are discreet, just like any decorative extras to a kit should be. Is there anything to fault? Possibly, as one flaw, for some, is the Cherries' crest appearing in pink and white too. Yeah, I get it's not traditional, but neither are pink kits so the colours used on Dickie Dowsett heading a ball aren’t an issue at all for me. A red and black crest would have perhaps given an unbalanced look although I guess it would have been given greater prominence.

The shorts and socks in the same shade as the shirt has also not pleased all, but if you use this Real Madrid-esque tone then I think the kit has to be all the same colour. Using black or white would look a little odd, although there may be occasions when black may have to be used if an unwanted kit clash crops up.

Finally, the fact a percentage of any sale will be donated to Breast Cancer Care is a simply wonderful gesture from the club. Just to get serious for a minute, we all know somebody that has been affected by this terrible cancer, so for our club to commit to this fantastic gesture shows that football does have a compassionate side.
The blue and black away kit is retained for another season.
The club have also shown their consideration by retaining last year’s Championship winning kit, even promoting its official status to away, rather than third as it was in 2014-15. The retention of any kit for a second season is pretty much unheard of nowadays, hence why the market is so lacking in innovative trends. Clubs come up with a winning design and then it’s gone within 12 months, so we’ve definitely bucked that trend, hopefully more will follow suit.

The black to blue faded affair, one which I thought may polarise popularity due to its uniqueness, was a resounding triumph – on and off the pitch – to the point where I would consider it our best ever alternate combination. Its originality superb, with the colours used meaning it worked better than you could have imagined, just like the way Eddie Howe's charges stormed into the Premier League. Fitting that this kit was worn during the crowning glory at Charlton and will, we hope, witness more record breaking feats as it will be once again worn on the final day of our top flight initiation, away at Manchester United. Could history repeat itself? Who knows because as the saying goes “Anything is Possible”.

Adam  Federici shows off a green keeper's shirt in Philadelphia.
Many thanks to Gareth and make sure you catch his articles on the Shirt Tales pages of the new AFC Bournemouth Premier League programmes next season.
Follow Gareth on Twitter: @garphied

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