Creative Soccer Culture

Why You Should Be Excited For The Resurgence Of Admiral

The thirst for all things retro doesn’t yet seem to have been quenched in modern jersey culture, and so the retro royalty that is Admiral, now find themselves in the perfect time to power back into the modern era, with a wealth of vintage designs to draw from in their back catalogue. And we just can’t wait to see them back at the top of the British game.

Hands up if you remember Admiral kits? 10 to one that most people with their hands up (those actually mad enough to put their hand up when reading an article alone anyway) will be 40 plus. That’s because Admiral enjoyed its pomp as a football kit manufacturer a few decades ago, switching focus towards cricket following the turn of the millennium and thus slipping out of the footballing public consciousness in the intervening years, save for brief spells with Leeds, Wolves and, more recently, Wimbledon. But the reveal of J1 League side Júbilo Iwata’s 2022 kit got us all excited about the potential return to the upper echelons for what is England's oldest sportswear brand.

jubilo 7-min.jpg
admiral 21-min.jpg

Cast your eyes over any football replica page and you’ll undoubtedly be treated to a veritable array of colourful designs from some of the biggest sporting brands in the world. The increased appetite for jersey culture has seen football shirt design expand so far beyond the pitch and into places you would never have expected decades ago, but while the likes of adidas, Nike and PUMA dominate the kit scene these days, they have one brand in particular to thank, and that’s Admiral.

Following on from their heights in the 70s and 80s, and with attention more focused on cricket and outfitting the England side in the early millennium, it might have seemed like Admiral were gone from football, but they were certainly never forgotten. They had created a legacy that would forever live on, having not only produced some of the best kits of the era (the England ’82 shirt being the cream of the crop), but also in leaving a lasting impression on the future direction of kit design.

admiral 19-min.jpg
admiral 16-min.jpg

The brand genuinely acted as trailblazers of a generation. 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…

admiral 13-min.jpg
admiral 17-min.jpg

In 1974 they landed the England job, and they promptly sent waves rippling through the English footballing community by not only producing a shirt like nothing the national team had worn before (white, with a pointed collar, and bold red and blue lines going down the sleeves), but by also being the first to place their logo on an England kit – a controversial move at the time.

Some of the greatest players ever to grace the English game have donned kits from Admiral in the past, from Lineker to Shearer, Ossie Ardiles to Cantona. It’s an iconic array of kits that the brand have to draw from, so with one eye on what could be a triumphant return if their appearance in Japan is anything to go by, take your mind back to a time when Admiral reigned as the kings of cool as we pick out our 10 favourite kits from the English brand. Small shorts and bad haircuts obligatory...

admiral 9-min.jpg

10. Rangers Away 1990-92

All about that collar detail... a signature of Admiral.


9. Leeds United Home 1976

Building off the shirt that started it all in '74 by adding some trim.

admiral 7-min.jpg

8. Southampton Home 1977-78

An original look for the Saints, bordering the stripes with thinner stripes. Then there's the collar, cuff combo and the sleeve details...

admiral 10-min.jpg

7. Manchester United Home 1978-79

Once again, and not for the last time, all about that collar/cuff combo.

admiral 20-min.jpg

6. Southampton Away 1991-93

Absolutely begging for a modern recreation this one.

admiral 15-min.jpg

5. Wales Home 1976-79

Bound to be divisive, but we're all for the balls-out approach of this design. And that's not in relation to the length of the shorts. Certainly preferable to the brown execution that Coventry got circa 1983.

admiral 5-min.jpg

4. Tottenham Hotspurs Home 1977-80

Kappa are the kings of the modern day banded branding, but before that Admiral had it nailed. Even added to the collar for added panache.

admiral 23-min.jpg

3. West Ham Home 1980

Trevor Brooking draped in Admiral’s era-appropriate chevrons. What a look.

admiral 14-min.jpg

2. Leicester City Home 1983-85

Surely one of the best Leicester kits of all time. Would love to see the pinstripes return in full force for the Foxes.

admiral 22-min.jpg

1. England Home 1982

Never going to be anything else, was it?

Come on Admiral, we're ready...

Daniel Jones

The Creative Soccer Culture Brief

Sign up to our newsletter and we'll keep you in the loop with everything good going on in the world of Creative Soccer Culture.