Getting shirty at the match; 18 The Chronicle WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 27, 2019 NOSTALGIA DAVE MORTON recalls the people and places of the North East EMAIL: email@example.com TELEPHONE: 0191 2016437 WRITE TO: Dave Morton, ncjMedia, Eldon Court, Percy Street, Newcastle, NE1 7JB. @DaveSMorton Newcastle Chronicle - History Photosales - 0191 201 6000.
Byline: DAVE MORTON
MAY 4, 1974 and Newcastle United fans are in full voice as their team take on Liverpool in the FA Cup final at Wembley.
If the day was a washout for the Magpies who lost 3-0, this memorable photograph shows a little piece of football history.
The two fans in the centre of the image are among the first ever to be photographed wearing replica shirts at a football match.
The fashion for adult fans wearing replica shirts - now an integral part of football's visual and economic landscape - was initially created by supporters rather than by manufacturers or marketing, according to new University of Sheffield research, just published in the journal Sport in History.
Using a statistical analysis of crowd photographs, manufacturer and club shop adverts, and a survey of over 4,000 fans, Dr Chris Stride, a statistician from the university's Institute of Work Psychology, found the first big surge in replica shirt wearing pre-dated the more commonly cited moments for football's revival, such as the 1990 World Cup and the formation of the Premier League.
Though replica shirts have been produced since the late 1950s, they were initially produced and promoted for children. In the early 1970s, kit manufacturers forged contracts with clubs and introduced copyrighted designs, allowing them to market their shirts with the added appeal of being exclusive and authentic.
This led to a boom in the child replica kit industry.
However, adult sizes were not widely produced, and even more rarely worn as leisure wear. Wearing sports clothing in public still seemed odd to some adults and childish to others.
For those of us who remember match days at St James' Park in the mid-1970s, we kids might have worn a black and white scarf tied around our wrist, but it was really not the done thing to wear a replica shirt! You would have been laughed out of the Gallowgate End.
The exception was at cup finals, where replica shirts became part of the big game fancy dress tradition.
The study found that, by the early 1980s, a small number of fans began to wear replica shirts to matches more regularly - mostly young adults who had grown up with replica kits, and who were wearing large youth sizes.
However, the fashion didn't spread beyond a small subculture for most of the decade, due to lack of production or promotion of adult-sized shirts, the risk of being attacked at a match, and the absence of football merchandising infrastructure.
In the late 1980s there was surge in replica shirt purchasing and wearing, linked both to the decline in hooliganism and the rise of the football fanzine culture and fan activism. The game was now considered hip again by young adults.
This change in football's fortunes was boosted again by the 1990 World Cup, during which thousands of replica-clad fans were seen both at home and at the tournament.
Such wider adoption encouraged clubs to strike far more lucrative shirt deals with kit manufacturers who, eager to recoup that outlay, now produced larger adult sizes and marketed their goods proactively to all ages of adult fans.
This commercialisation chimed perfectly with the introduction of the Premier League in 1992, and the focus on new, older, middle-class and familycentered fan demographics, creating a second jump in the numbers wearing replica shirts to matches.
Dr Stride said: "Several factors were behind the shift from child to adult sales. It was as much the gradual removal of barriers such as widespread hooliganism, the growth and professionalisation of retail outlets for football merchandise, and the sense that sportswear was acceptable leisure wear for adults as well as for children, that enabled the replica shirt industry to develop.
"The timeline for the adoption of replica shirts maps neatly on to the gentrification of football as a whole. Just as the fan activism of the late 1980s helped create the initial, though often-ignored revival in football's fortunes prior to the formation of the Premier League, the surge in shirt wearing by young adults in this period helped create a market that manufacturers then exploited and expanded."
These two Newcastle United fans in 1974 were among the first to be photographed at a match wearing replica shirts
Not a replica shirt in sight in 1970
Plenty of replicas at Wembley, 1996