Months of speculation and seemingly limitless Internet Photoshop mockups finally came to an end Thursday night with the long awaited, official release of Warrior Sports’ Liverpool home and goalkeeper shirts.
Countless Liverpool fans and shirt collectors worldwide probably expected the worst when it was announced that Liverpool, for a record amount of money, would be ending their second stint with established sports giants Adidas in favor of an American based company with no history of making soccer shirts. Yes, it has happened before, when Arsenal switched their account over to Nike 18 years ago. At least Nike was already a global sport and brand juggernaut. Most people outside of lacrosse have never heard of Warrior Sports.
I am pleased to say that Warrior has hit, pardon the American parlance, a home run. Liverpool’s new home shirt is probably the best the club has had since 1986. In its debut effort, Warrior has delivered a masterstroke in simplicity, tradition and design.
Let’s start with the crest. In one sweep, Warrior has refreshingly, albeit controversially, brushed aside the cluttered mess that has been the Liverpool crest since 1992 when Adidas, in a marketing gimmick to justify fans buying a new shirt forced by a sponsor change, created a new badge to conveniently “commemorate” the club’s centenary year. Gone are the Shankly gates, the “You’ll never walk alone” and “est. 1892.” The eternal flames have also been removed, to the ire of some of the families of the 96 victims of the Hillsborough disaster, whose memory the flames symbolize. Warrior has partially made up for it by putting the flames on the back. Whether it is an adequate gesture, I can’t say but there is no denying, it is a joy to see a full sized golden yellow liverbird back on the club shirt.
For the first time in decades, there is no white on the shirt. Even Standard Chartered has graciously allowed their logo to be printed in yellow – giving the shirt a wonderful consistency. The shade of red used, looks darker than recent kits, and when coupled with the rich, simple fabric — thankfully devoid of any multi-tones or diamond patterns — it gives the kit an almost intimidating look, something Bill Shankly strived for when he changed the club’s strip to all red. The pinstripes give the kit a subtle touch of class. Decent tailoring makes the neckline and the flip collar, a relative rarity on a Reds shirt, look at home here.
I would have preferred not having the “warrior” name under their mark but considering that they are a relatively unknown company, I can’t blame them for branding themselves – they certainly paid for the privilege and considering the garish, over-sized logos brands like Macron, Lotto, and now Kappa put on their shirts, it is certainly a confident move on Warrior’s part. I love Adidas but they were starting to run out of ideas, especially with the away kits. This season’s god-awful white and blue still leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.
As a shirt collector for over 20 years, I think this one is a winner. It is simple yet classy, traditional yet modern. It’s already in pole position for next season’s best kit. Warrior certainly did their homework. And based on this effort, I wouldn’t mind seeing them snag more English football accounts. Hopefully it will inspire the players to do better on the pitch.
What do you think? Do you miss Adidas? Your thoughts on the badge? Let me know what you think.