Chris O (follow on Twitter: @COakleyFtbl)
Sun 3 February 2008

Obscure Kits From British Football History #5

Crystal Palace (home)
1971/1972 season

When it comes to football kits, there are only so many different designs you can create which are simple, distinguished and can last the test of time. Whoever it was that decided black and white stripes were a winning combination must still be receiving royalties from Juventus, Newcastle United, Botafogo and many other clubs to this day.

Similarly, that pairing up of green and white hoops must have put a very large tick in the box for the people running Celtic and Sporting Lisbon when they were trying to work out what their team should wear.

As for Ajax, they must be have one of the most exclusive niches of all, thanks to that very individualistic broad red stripe running down the middle of their clean white shirts.

We can only guess it was this last example that prompted the chairman of Crystal Palace to go for something similar in the early 1970's when he opted to change the team's strip, but a big red stripe was too obvious. What they needed was something that nodded noticeably in that direction yet had a degree of distinction that would make the design all their own.

And so it was that in the 1971/72 season, Crystal Palace FC unleashed the following kit onto an unsuspecting world:

Yes, witness one and all the Double Stripe of Crystal Palace, replete in claret and blue.

Now at this point, the younger folk amongst you may be starting to make comparisons with the kit Crystal Palace wore on and off from 1976 onwards - you know, the one with the red and blue diagonal sash on a white background.

The thing to note here, though, is that while these days we're all used to seeing Palace wearing red and blue the whole time, back then their kit sported decidedly Burnleyesque hues.

So this was something of a radical departure from either claret and blue shirts or plain white ones as had been worn before it. This was a bold move and one which perhaps epitomised a brave new identity for the team and one which would would spark a change of fortunes for Crystal Palace.

It was. Call it coincidence if you will, but the introduction of the double-stripe initiated a gradual decline for the club which would see them drop from the First Division to the Third in the space of three seasons. As if to admit the new styling had had a derogatory effect on them, Crystal Palace altered their kit slightly for 1972/73, separating the claret and blue stripes with a thin white one.

It had no effect. Palace languished in the Second and Third Divisions until 1980 when Terry Venables' managerial expertise put them back where they were a decade earlier, but by then the claret and blue had gone, as had that distinctive two-stripe design.

It's interesting to note that this jinx of a design has never been reintroduced by the club since, although it was chosen by the fans as the basis for a special kit to be worn in celebration of Palace's centenary in 2005. In the two games it appeared in, both of them ended as 2-0 wins for Crystal Palace.

Maybe they were a bit harsh to abandon that design after all...

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