Creative Soccer Culture

Admiral Sports Launch Special '50 Years Of The Replica Shirt' Book

Admiral Sports are one of the most influential brands when it comes to jersey culture as we know it today. Existing as England's oldest sportswear brand, they are the granddaddy of football replica, and now they’ve chronicled their journey in a commemorative, coffee table-style book titled ’50 Years of the Replica Shirt’.

Admiral Sports were trailblazers of a generation, it’s as simple as that. They were the first to create a shirt that featured several colours rather than just one block colour when they produced the Leeds United kit of 1973. It was a radical moment and a true game-changer, coinciding as it did with Television’s transition from black-and-white to full colour. This vivid new spectacle offered football clubs a new way to market themselves and earn additional revenue: by wearing radically redesigned kits on the pitch, and then selling replicas to fans. Admiral were ahead of the game, and they weren’t afraid to capitalise on that fact. Their success – particularly with the Leeds kit, of which replica versions of it and the tracksuit were put on sale to the general public – effectively kickstarted the replica-kit market. And their revolutionary moves didn’t stop there…

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Blending newly commissioned photography with archive images, original design sketches and contributions from collectors the book has been created in conjunction with independent football publisher Halcyon Publishing and football content agency Glory.

As well as the imagery, the book features longer-form essays on notable kits and their context from some of football's best writers, including Harry Pearson, Rob Bagchi, Daniel Gray, Ian King, Andi Thomas and Ian Plenderleith; contributions from famous fans including Maisie Adam, Mark & Paul Watson, James Brown and Guy Mowbray; academic insight into the design, manufacturing and socially pioneering nature of shirts from Professors Jean Williams and Andrew Groves; recollections from players and managers who have worn them, including Gary Lineker, Alan Shearer Sue Smith, Peter Shilton, Roy Hodgson, Viv Anderson, Mark Hateley, and many more; and a comprehensive illustrated Admiral kit directory by designer John Devlin.

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Marking the first year of replica shirt sales, an initial 1,974 individually numbered, hardback books are now on sale on a pre-order basis, available to customers directly from Admiral for £45. These will be the only books of this type produced, before a softback version is released for retail later in 2024.

Rob MacDonald and Adam Bushby (Halcyon Publishing) said: "Opportunities like this don’t come around very often and we’re thrilled to be working with our friends at Glory and a brand like Admiral on this book. To be able to mark such a massive piece of football history and most importantly fan culture in such a spectacular way is something we’re very proud of.

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Lee Nash (Glory Studio) said: "Admiral are a cult brand – the England ’82 shirt is still worn with pride on Euro and World Cup terraces today, so it’s an absolute privilege to help celebrate the huge impact the brand has had in pioneering the replica shirt market. From the early Leeds shirt to the stunning William Morris-inspired Walthamstow kit, Admiral keep reinventing themselves – and we couldn’t be more excited to document it.”

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Theo Hamburger (Head of Marketing, Admiral Sports) said: "With over 110 years of history it is a great honour to be able to collate many of the most important football shirts since Admiral invented the replica football kit market 50 years ago. These pieces are important parts of both football tradition, culture and design. In Halcyon and Glory, Admiral have found partners that are both experts in the world of football, in addition to being fans of the brand. We are very excited to be releasing the first official Admiral retrospective.”

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'50 Years of the Replica Shirt' is available in limited quantities at

Daniel Jones

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