This sharp looking Sheffield United shirt from the early 1990s is still a firm fans’ favourite and icon of Bramall Lane.
In fans’ polls of their all-time favourite kit designs, this shirt, which marked United’s return to the top-flight and their ensuing fight for survival between 1990-92, is always right up there with the fluorescent away shirt of the same era and the drawstring-collared classic from the start of the Premier League era.
There was a hint of the liquorice allsorts about this Blades shirt, as thin black stripes were introduced between their customary red and white, creating a look that was as much Bertie Bassett as it was Harry Bassett.
The stripes were slim and deliberately sharp and this is a prime example of how Umbro brought an edge to early-90s kit design without over-stepping the mark.
Put simply, this is the standard that all other Sheffield United shirts should be held to.
Worn for two seasons between 1990 and 1992, the shirt was paired with black shorts and socks, though these were sometimes switched for white.
The design benefitted from the logo of sponsors Arnold Laver, a local timber firm just a punted clearance away from Bramall Lane, which was smartly placed within a yellow box for maximum exposure.
The mostly black collar featured those wonderful popping buttons and a tasteful trim in red and white that followed Umbro’s established pattern of the day, most famously seen on England’s Italia ’90 shirts.
As a critique, the placement of the Blades’ crossed swords and Yorkshire rose badge, almost hidden between the stripes; could and should have been handled a little better, but we’re talking minor points here.
Worn by an assortment of Sheffield United characters including Vinnie Jones, Brian Deane and Chris Wilder, Blades fans have happy memories of derby day victories over Sheffield Wednesday and of First Division campaigns ending in Great Escapes from relegation.
In fact, after painfully slow starts to both the 1990-91 and 1991-92 seasons, United recovered to more than hold their own in the second half of each campaign, finishing 13th and 9th under Dave “Harry” Bassett’s management.
This lead to calls for all future Christmas parties to be held in the summer!
Sheffield United’s survival meant they were founding members of the Premier League in 1992, allowing Brian Deane Deane to famously score the first goal of the competition’s history in an opening day 2-1 victory over eventual champions, Manchester United.
Aside from Avec’s infamous 1995-96 diamond shirts, Sheffield United have rigidly stuck to their red and white formula, but have incorporated greater and lesser degrees of black in their shirts over the years.
These days, with football shirts replaced after barely a full season, it seems manufacturers struggle to successfully bring variety to striped shirts, as witnessed by Inter Milan, Juventus and Barcelona.
Umbro’s addition of black between stripes really gave this Blades shirt an edge and fitted the team’s drive, determination and fighting underdog spirit.
This is still a hugely popular look for Sheffield United fans and as far as we’re concerned, 1990s Club Classics don’t look much better than this!