In the club’s centenary year, PSV decided to revert to a club strip reminiscent of past glories. The current home kit, comprising of red shirt, white shorts and red socks, is intentionally similar to that worn by the successful side of 1987/88. After discussions with supporters groups over the summer, it was decided that PSV should remember that formidable side which won the Eredivise, KNVB Beker and European Cup. It looks great, and is but the latest in a long line of classy football kits from the Eindhoven club.
A sensational rumour surrounds the initial selection of the PSV club colours; an old yarn perhaps too poetic to hold any truth. The story goes that, at the founding meeting of Philips Sport Vereniging in 1913, Jan Willem Hofkes, the first chairman, was taken aback by the sweet contrast between his raspberry punch drink and the white notepad resting on his desk. In a true Eureka! Moment, it was decided there and then that PSV would be a club of red-and-white. The tradition has been preserved for one-hundred years, with many different kit designs following Hofkes’ raspberry idealism.
The first strip was classic PSV: a jersey of red-and-white vertical stripes with black shorts and red-and-white horizontally striped socks. The true heart of PSV is rapped in these colours, this design, and this pattern. It remained largely untouched from the clubs very founding until the seventies, when hedonism and diversified thinking attached to the expanding professional game in Holland forced experimentation. When PSV won the embryonic League Championship in 1929, they did so wearing the red-and-white stripes; stalwarts such as Sjef van Run and Jan van den Broek making a success of the iconic strip just like Ronaldo, Luc Nilis and Mark van Bommel would generations later.
PSV won two further league titles and a Dutch Cup before the dawn of professionalism in 1954, the Eindhoven side victorious in the national playoffs in 1935 and 1951 with legendary striker Coen Dillen making an instant impact. In 1955, the red-and-white stripes would be seen by an entire continent, as PSV became the first Dutch side ever to enter the European Cup. Nonetheless, the club was on a fast-track towards big-time professionalism, with pioneer Ben van Gelder expanding many aspects of the club. An ambitious board member, van Gelder expanded the clubs recruitment policy from solely Brabantian players to include overseas footballers capable of helping the club compete on the continental stage. Accordingly, Trevor Ford, a superstar Welsh striker, became not only the first Brit to wear the famous red-and-white PSV kit, but also the first British player to play professionally in Holland.
A fourth league title in 1963 was perhaps PSV’s biggest shove towards changing the core principles which remained in-place since Willem Hofkes’ raspberry revolution fifty years prior. Now, PSV, like many Dutch clubs, had dreams of reaching far beyond the localities they’d initially represented as an amateur club. PSV power-brokers had eyes for the world stage. In the next decade, many aspects of PSV would evolve, including the kit worn by its ever more sophisticated players.
The 1960s and 70s were a time of great social change, both in North Brabant and the Netherlands as a whole. A new class of highly-educated youths challenged the traditions of society and pressed for change in issues ranging from women’s rights to environmental policy. In Eindhoven, church attendance declined as the totality of Catholic pillarisation waned. All over Holland, a collective urging of change was felt. Somewhat trivially, it even extended to the kits worn by football teams throughout the nation, with manufacturers displaying logos on jerseys for the first time. Le Coq Sportif supplied PSV kits during a four-year spell beginning in 1970, and displayed an eagerness to change the club’s strip to an all-red shirt with either white or black shorts. Accordingly, a new chapter was opened in the kit history of PSV.
The new-found taste for experimentation accelerated in 1974, when sportswear giant Adidas agreed a deal to become the clubs new kit manufacturer. At the time, the all-red jersey was popular with PSV fans, and a similar design was kept for fifteen years, with a few famous innovations. In 1982, for instance, main jersey sponsorship was introduced to the Eredivisie, and the symbiotic relationship between PSV and Philips was acknowledged in a deal which still flourishes to this day. The first PSV kit emblazoned with ‘PHILIPS’ on its front was all-red with very fine white pinstripes and the classic Adidas logo. The most epochal period in the clubs history came with this all-red number in its pomp. PSV won the 1978 UEFA Cup wearing this strip. The aforementioned 1987-88 European Cup winning team made this kit famous. PSV announced itself on the global stage as a club with an all-red shirt.
The shorts to this strip were altogether more capricious, however, with their colour changing as with the opponent and whim of certain star strikers. Ruud Gullit, the dread-locked superstar of PSV from 1985-87, personally decided to change the shorts’ colour from black to white in order to improve the aesthetic quality of the overall kit. It seemed to work, as Gullit fired PSV to two further Eredivisie titles before taking Europe by storm with Milan.
In 1989, it was decided that PSV would return to its traditional base with the re-introduction of an Adidas red-and-white vertical striped jersey. The next decade brought a swathe of eye-catching and unique variations on this traditional theme, insuring that many of PSV’s greatest ever players wore its rightful strip. Luc Nilis and Ronaldo won the hearts of Eindhoven and numerous medals along the way, all dressed up in red-and-white. Sir Bobby Robson famously swapped England for PSV in 1990, helping to make the striped renaissance a success. Phillip Cocu, current manager and former midfield maestro, donned the stripes of his hometown club. It all felt so natural, so right, so classically PSV.
The last major change to the kits basic principles prior to this seasons centenary special came in 1995, when Nike ceded Adidas as the manufacturer. Nike increased the visibility of white on the PSV shirt, so much so that, for the first time, it could be viewed as primarily white with red stripes. It was in this style that Ruud van Nistelrooy shot to fame, fueling the clubs 15th and 16th Eredivisie titles from 1998-2001 before a £19m move to Manchester United.
The new Millennium brought greater commercialism to global football. Therefore, clubs sought to open as many new revenue streams as possible, with the sale of official merchandise booming and creating a market for new kit designs every one or two seasons. In keeping with the rest of football, PSV released many strip variations throughout the 2000s, with some more memorable than others. My favourite kit is undoubtedly that worn by the club when I first began watching games in 2004. It had the classic red-and-white vertical stripes but, more importantly, holds the fantastic memories of players such as Mateja Kežman, Mark van Bommel and Arjen Robben. I still have that shirt tucked away in a wardrobe for posterity.
I will likely purchase this seasons jersey soon, because it’s a real collectors item. The circumstantial return to the all-red of former glories is a nice touch from management, preserving one of the clubs true glory periods. However, I also eagerly await the day when PSV again run out in their famous red-and-white vertical stripes; from Hofkes’ aberration to modern day success, those colours are at the clubs core.
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