Cult Classics: The Oakwell All-Stars

It’s high time we featured Barnsley on the pages of Sartorial.Soccer and what better place to start, than with this cult classic.

A look through a history of the Tykes‘ tops shows that after early experiments with different styles, the club has been largely faithful to the established formula of a relatively plain red shirt, white shorts and socks for most of their existence.

Yes, manufacturers and sponsors have come and gone and the club’s badge has evolved through a number of designs over the years, but aside from changing fashions for collars, cuffs and trim details, Barnsley have been quite a sensible lot.

All of that was turned on its head for the 1989-90 season when Beaver International gave the Oakwell outfit an incredibly audacious shirt.

Barnsley, Beaver, Stars, 1989-90, football shirt
Beaver International’s Barnsley shirt for the 1989-90 season

Roundly despised and derided in its day, this shirt has since gained a cult following with an incredible demand among fans wishing to own a little piece of club history.

The shirt features a constellation of seven six-pointed stars across the red yoke of the top half, whereas perhaps Beaver’s most controversial part of the design comes with the lower share of the top coming in white.

That bottom half may have blended well with Barnsley’s fairly standard issue white shorts, but it was the way that red became almost a secondary colour in this outfit that really jarred with the Oakwell faithful.

Barnsley, Beaver, Stars, 1989-90, football shirt
Barnsley’s full 1989-90 kit by Beaver

Sponsored by Yorkshire’s premier flooring outlet Shaw Carpets, the Reds’ kit was at least embellished with the name of a solid local firm for local people, rather than some far-away, shady gambling conglomerate.

On the pitch, Steve Agnew was top-scorer for Barnsley as they finished 19th in Division 2 and completed the double over Yorkshire rivals Leeds United who went on to finish the season as champions.

Thirty years later, Puma released a 3rd shirt in tribute to the iconic kit for the Tykes’ 2019-20 season to further cement Beaver’s shirt as a cult classic.

Barnsley, Beaver, Stars, 1989-90, football shirt
Over time, this Tykes top has become a cult classic

Time and nostalgia can do strange things to the eyes and the loud tops from our youth are often the ones we remember with most fondness.

Maybe that’s why we have stronger feelings for audacious designs like this than those that were a little more run of the mill and just blended into the background?

A shirt of its time, that’s taken many years to gain the love it was denied in its day, these stars are now a firm, cult classic at Oakwell.

What are your memories of Beaver’s all-star Barnsley shirt?

Please let us know in the comments section below!

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