The ultimate showman, and celebrity Port Vale fan Mr Robert Peter Williams, formerly of Stoke on Trent and more lately of Los Angeles, has turned his hand to football shirt design.
Only The Beatles have had more UK number 1 albums than our Robbie, and if you thought there was no end to the former Take That singer’s talents, then you were most definitely wrong/right (delete as you see fit).
If ever a football shirt screamed, “Let Me Entertain You” it was this one.
Port Vale have never been afraid to be different as their 1990s Kalamazoo sponsored kits could testify, but these black and white shirts with gold trim surpass even those shirts for sheer bravado.
The 2020-21 Vale Park vintage follows the black and white video and rock-n-roll opera of Williams’ 1998 hit, Let Me Entertain You, and like the performer himself, Vale’s kits refuse to take themselves too seriously.
After Williams’ early design ideas were developed by the Port Vale ownership team of club chair Carol Shanahan and son Patrick, the “V for Vale” concept was refined by Erreà to produce the 2020-21 home and goalkeeper kits which have been remarkably well-received online.
Traditionalists will prefer matters to be more black and white, but many Vale fans have commented that as long as the “V” of the design stands for “victory” and comes to symbolise promotion from League Two at a rocking Vale Park; then supporters will remember the shirt with the same fondness they do for the Kalamazoo.
Port Vale boss John Askey has given his final seal of approval and fans will see the letters “W. N. E.” stitched into the back of the shirts reinforcing his ‘Want, Need, Expect’ mantra for success.
There’s probably even some sports psychology we could spout here to say that in actual fact, the design may have the twin effect of accentuating the shoulders and chest of Vale players, whilst playing absolute havoc with the opposition’s eyesight.
That’s a stroke of genius.
The exhibitionist shirts were originally planned for release on the day of Robbie’s homecoming concert at Vale Park in June, but Covid-19 put paid to that.
They might fall just over the line into novelty territory, with our favourite description so far comparing them to a dart’s flight, but as our friend Phil Bowers of BBC Stoke says, these might just be a “grower.”
Much depends on whether Vale’s players can perform like Williams on the pitch and find that promotion season X-Factor.