IN THE now annual summer ritual of new kit releases it is not unusual to see a full range of emotions on display; from eager expectation to full-blown anxiety.
Fans queuing outside the club shop on the appointed release day may do so with a sense of Christmas-morning excitement, or with a sense of resignation that, like a bad haircut, it will only be a short time until it’s time for a new one.
Any failure to respect established club traditions is also likely to result in much controversy – Southampton fans are still recovering from the trauma imposed by the brief hiatus of the club’s red and white stripes.
By contrast, even in an atmosphere as highly charged as this, the unveiling of the design for the goalkeeper’s kit is highly unlikely to stir anything more than fleeting interest.
Maybe this is because few fans will ever purchase one – aside from the sort of aspiring goalkeeper types usually seen milling around local 5-a-side centres – but perhaps it is because goalkeepers’ kits these days have become so bland, so boring even, as to be virtually unnoticeable.
Today’s range of conservative keepers’ kits are a far cry from the flamboyant jerseys which predominated in the 1990s.
This was the time when new printing technologies provided designers with greater possibilities and although there was an existing traditional grammar for goalkeepers’ kit – mainly of muted greens, blacks, greys and the occasional yellow – few clubs or fans had any real preference, or investment, in one colour combination or pattern over another.
With looser rules, there was therefore greater freedom to innovate. Along with third kits, which also provided designers with a blank slate unimpinged by a need to heed tradition, goalkeepers’ jerseys were in the vanguard of a headlong rush towards garishness.
The most famous expo-