House of Payne: Admiral and Dons are reunited, oh the memories

Memories: Kevin Keegan, with perm and England kit made by Admiral

Memories: Kevin Keegan, with perm and England kit made by Admiral

First published in Sport by

The news Admiral are to supply AFC Wimbledon’s kit for next season evokes memories for football fans of a certain generation.

John Fashanu and Vinny Jones and their Wimbledon team mates were once decked out in the company’s kits but they are really more synonymous with the national team around the time of the Kevin Keegan perm.

There was uproar in the mid-1970s when the company first got the deal to kit out the Three Lions because, until then, England had just worn plain white.

The likes of Sir Tom Finney, who sadly died last week, Sir Stan Matthews and the heroes of 1966 hadn’t needed red and blue trim on their shirts to be successful.

As if to enforce the traditionalists’ grumbles, England went through some awful barren years in their first Admiral kit.

It’s unfair to blame the kit – that initial offering still looks classy and wouldn’t look out of place today – but the late 1970s were a period of staggering under-achievement by the national side.

Admiral went even more radical with their second shirt, worn to the 1980 European Championships and 1982 World Cup, a V-neck with thick stripes of red and blue above the chest.

That one does look dated, but Admiral had started a phenomenon.

Football shirts were no longer a once in a lifetime purchase, they were a fashion accessory clubs and national teams could profit from with kit changes every season.

However, that was the last England shirt Admiral made and, although they supplied kit for the Dons in the 1990s, it was the likes of Umbro, Adidas and Nike, which really profited from their foresight.

Admiral has come to prominence again in recent years with kits for Leeds United and the England cricket team – and their four-year Dons deal is good news for both club and company.

Just as long as none of the players decide, as they are wearing the shirt, they need a Keegan perm to go with it.

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