Collectors Corner: Owen Kiernan

Continuing our series featuring fans CUFC shirt collection is none other than UTAS’ own Owen Kiernan. Here he runs down a few favourites.

I love football shirts. I always have. In my mums photo albums almost every picture of me on family holidays is me in a football shirt.

I’ve been collecting United shirts since I got my first (the incredible/awful 93/94 away shirt, sold for a fiver outside the club shop at the end of the season), although over numerous house moves, and the fact I’m a good few stone heavier now than I was as a teenager means I’ve lost a few over the years, although I think I have a home shirt from every season since 1990, so I’m happy with that.

In no particular order, here’s a few of the more interesting shirts from my collection.

2003/04 Home Shirt worn by Luke Guttridge

The 2003-2005 shirt wasn’t a vintage one by any means, as we lost our league status in it 2004/05, and fielded all manner of dross on the pitch. One small highlight was the visit of Leeds United to the Abbey to honour U’s legend John Taylor for a testimonial. Eddie Grey took a strong side for the game, featuring World Cup winner Roque Junior, alongside internationals such as Scott Carson, Gary Kelly, Ian Harte, Nick Barmby and Mark Viduka. Lining up for the U’s were the likes of Andy Duncan, Shane Tudor, Shaun Marshall and Luke Guttridge. It’s Guttridge’s shirt I have here, that features embroidery marking the occasion (although the date is wrong as the game was played during the 03/04 season) and long sleeves which were never available to buy from the club shop. The game itself finished 5-3 to Leeds, our goals coming from who else but Shaggy, plus a brace from Andrew Bilson-Page, who paid a four figure sum to play for the U’s.

2020/21 50th Anniversary Shirt worn by Jack Iredale

The most I’ve ever spent on a football shirt by a long way, Jack Iredale’s 50th Anniversary home shirt worn in the win over Newport earlier this season. It’s just about dried out after the biblical rainstorm experienced during that game! As soon as the club announced these shirts I just had to get one, the clean all-white design replicating that we wore during our first League season in 1970/71. Shirts worn this season feature an additional patch on the sleeve in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, and were delivered in a stunning presentation box.

1999/00 Home Shirt worn by Martin Butler

Roy McFarland’s side of the late 1990’s was exciting to watch on the pitch, and they looked good whilst scoring hatfuls of goals too thanks to this class shirt from SuperLeague. They may have been a bit of a crap make, but the simple design with a classic V-neck collar looked really good. Someone had even managed to get sponsor C&R Windows to drop their awful ‘splatter’ logo too. This shirt was worn in away games by Martin Butler, so featured the Philips Lighting sponsor on the front as they sponsored our away shirts at the time. This was also the first year of squad names & numbers being printed on shirts, and as star striker Butler was the obvious choice for the number 9. We wore this shirt for two seasons, and you can tell this is from 99/00 by the blue Nationwide League patches which changed to white the following season. No, you’re a nerd.

1993/95 Home Shirt worn by Steve Claridge/Danny Granville/Carlo Corrazzin & others

Most people would pick the previous seasons Fujitsu shirt as their favourite U’s shirt, and with good reason as it’s a lovely design, looks good in Amber (and in Blue for the away shirt), was worn by Dion Dublin and is better than Arsenal’s ‘Bruised Banana’ design from the same era. But I’ve gone for something different, our 1993-95 ‘Barcode’ shirt by Vandanel. We’ve had a few Vandanel shirts over the years, this one and the infamous blue/white striped away effort, as well as a few in the late 00’s when we got to the Conference play-off final in two successive seasons. This one is the number 11 shirt, and if I’m honest it’s seen better days. It’s lost the Beaumont Stainless Steels sponsor it wore at the time, and the numbers on the back are cracking. But look at it, look at the grandad collar, look at the sewn-on Football League patches, look at the oh-so-90’s design, and look closely, at the Marvin the Moose pattern sublimated into the fabric. That’s right, it’s got Marvin the bloody Moose woven into the design of the shirt. What other club would even attempt something so audacious as including a cartoon moose in the pattern of their shirt? Over the two seasons we had it this number 11 shirt graced the backs of Steve Claridge, Danny Granville and Carlo Corrazzin (as well as the likes of Lenny Pack, Kofi Nyamah and Jon Rattle.)

1998/99 Away Shirt worn by Alex Russell

I’ve waxed lyrical enough about this shirt before, anyone who knows me will know that this is by far and away the GOAT United shirt. So what if it’s blue? So what if people confuse if for a Wycombe shirt? Think of Trevor Benjamin scaring the shit out of Kevin Pressman. Think of Shaggy kissing the badge at Hillsborough or lashing in that penalty at the City Ground. Think of Ben Chenery, Ian Ashbee, Andy Duncan, Martin McNeil, Jamie Campbell, Scott Eustace, Neil Mustoe, Neil MacKenzie, David Preece, Paul Wanless, John Taylor, Martin Butler, Michael Kyd, Trevor Benjamin, Richard Walker, Tom Youngs, Adam Wilde, Alex Russell and Mark McCammon and all those heroes of 98/99 (don’t think of Marc Joseph any more, because he left to join P*sh). This shirt was Alex Russell’s from that season, worn at Hillsborough (but not at the City Ground, where he used a long-sleeve version) at at Mansfield where he smashed a rocket in from 30 yards. The numbers are fabric, and sewn on in a delightfully old-fashioned way. The sleeve patches are felt, before they moved to a plastically material the next year. It’s even got a proper collar. For me, United shirts don’t get any better.

You can follow Owen on Twitter @vinylperez, and hear him on the UTAS Podcast (where we won’t let him speak about the 98/99 away shirt any more). If you have a U’s shirt collection you’d like us to feature, email us at abbeystandpod@gmail.com or contact us on Twitter @abbeystandpod

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