As someone who blogs on the subject of football shirts pretty regularly - 42 in nine years is pretty good going, right? - I don’t tend to buy the things all that much. I’m a little portly, and knocking on, and recently, when BBC Radio Merseyside were discussing the new Liverpool Home kit prior to another John Devlin guest appearance, someone called in to point out that “If you’re older than the players who wear it, don’t buy the shirt”.
It is a fair point. Certainly the wearing of said items is, or could be perceived as, a little unbecoming. As I say, I don’t have the build of a footballer. Not an association footballer, certainly. Think whatever’s in between a back and a forward in rugby, pre-Woodward era. And then mix that with the naked guy on the shark.

I digress. So is this all leading towards me stating that I’ve bought said Reds shirt? No, though the remarkably embroidered crest is drawing me in. The Celtic shirt is another beaut, though that certainly should have embroidered details instead of the flimsy heat transfers (Darling! No! No fabric softener!). No, it’s not the 125th anniversary-celebrating Liverpool shirt that I’ve spent a sizeable amount of cash on, nor the Lisbon Lions commemorating (50th anniversary, of sorts) Celtic shirt. It is a shirt, however, that is equally momentous.

The 2017-18 Olympique de Marseille Home shirt (along with the change equivalents) is the last made by adidas (insert “for the foreseeable future” caveat here). And it’s alright. Else I wouldn’t’ve decided to buy it, as I’m not electing to buy the overly plain Away, and the overly Toulouse Third. The Home is nice, simple, with an interesting cuff feature ripped off from the 2013-14 Barcelona Third (Provence and Catalunya have intertwined histories and overlapping cultures blah blah blah blah). It also has, as I noticed on leaked images, a rather nice shadow pattern, which reminds me of the first l’OM shirt I owned, the 1989-91 Home - a beautiful, and hugely iconic sought-after piece.

Or does it? Well, yeah, there are shadow stripes, and they’re in the weave (woop!), but they’re crap. Because I assumed they’d be equal-sized, and be even in number, sandwiching the apex of the “V” neck design, which on some f*cking shirts they are, but not others. Not others. So instead of an individually numbered example of this historical, limited edition, say, shirt, mine was (guess where I’m going with this…) unique thanks to the stupid shadow stripe placement (see below).

I investigated. I was wrong to assume that there should be an equal amount of stripes, that sandwich the apex of the “V” neck collar (remember I mentioned?), and the stripes are different sizes for a reason, I reckon. You see, the shadow stripes are there to echo the Provençal flag - on the cuffs, remember? And on a shield inside the neck - so there should be nine of them, with a thick “yellow” one centrally-placed. Perfectly centrally-placed. Off back to the Olympique de Marseille club shop I went…

Surprisingly enough, the shop assistant didn’t really see the problem, and I saw the cogs in her brain start to rotate over what might be the problem with me. “All of them will be like that…” I was ready for this, and had already turned away from her to search through the rails for a perfect example. The one I’d picked up originally I hadn’t properly checked, but it that was irrelevant, as a fresh, bagged one was provided at the till, which I had opened to my horror later on. I wouldn’t fall for that again.

I fished through the fifteen or so in Medium they had hanging in the shop. No joy. I did find a Large which as near as dammit, but I’m not that sort of portly, really (seriously, the shark guy’s all about the a*se). It had to be a Medium, and the best I found is below.

I made it very clear I wanted that one, and stifled my urge to blurt out “Can I have ten minutes to go through the bagged ones you’ve got down there?” There was no guarantee of finding the topical Holy Grail anyway. It’s just a sad story.

And it is sad. Because adidas have been l’OM’s supplier for 40 years, aside from the two years the side spent in the second division in the 90s, where they wore Reebok and Mizuno - I’d love those two Medium - and, as the shop assistant preached to this entirely captivated choir, cutting the fabric without even looking at the pattern isn’t really good enough. Not for any football shirt that has shadow striping, and certainly not for one of such importance. They wouldn’t do it with fabric that has contrast stripes, would they? Bayern fans beware

It is, perhaps, another example of me caring more about football shirts than the people who make football shirts. But as a designer friend of mine told me, when I pestered him about the catastrophe above... 

“Jay. Go out. Drink some pastis. Meet a nice lady.”

No. I want my shirt. Right.


Written by Jay (follow on Twitter).

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