Do I not like that . . . Why I'm sick as a Canary: Nick Patrick, producer of BBC Radio 5's Sporting Profiles, bemoans the garish dress sense of today's football clubs

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The Independent Online
I HAVE an admission to make. I first started supporting my club because of their kit. No, not the cut of the shorts or the style of the collars (this was 1969, after all), but the colours. If I tell you my club is Norwich City, then I know you'll understand. Oh, come on, at least they're original.

Between 1969 and 1972 that heady combination of jungle green and sunlit yellow was held to be the only justification for supporting Norwich. In those days Ipswich Town had East Anglia in thrall. I could only laugh scornfully at the lemmings of north Suffolk who piled into a coach for the 35-mile journey to Portman Road for so-called top-class football. We had Ken Foggo, Duncan Forbes, Dave Stringer, Kevin Keelan. What did they have? Blue shirts with white collars and white shorts.

But those were the glory days. Twenty years of subsequent Norwich videos reveal a hideous array of nasty kits. The last two years have been very trying. We can just about take a chairman, Robert Chase, who will sell you as soon as he claps eyes on you, but does he have to send the side out in shirts that look as though they're covered in starling droppings?

Nevertheless, only up to a week ago the 1994-95 season was looking good for us. Mr Chase was in buoyant mood after offloading a 21-year-old not-yet-senior international for 5 million quid. We fans were even more buoyant as we recalled Mr Chase's promise that if Chris Sutton didn't start the season, then neither would he.

I was in my office poring over the Freeman's catalogue when the local BBC station announced it was taking us live to Carrow Road. 'He's gone,' I thought, although my excitement turned to fear when I realised that Bernard Matthews was probably next in line to take over. Can you imagine your side turning out in shirts plastered with Golden Drummers?

But it was far worse than that. The reporter's calm was admirable as in the most threatening fashion conditions yet seen in football he took us through the unveiling of Norwich's new away strip and revealed to us that it was tartan.

After that it was all a blur. I may even have passed out, as the reporter was hitting our chairman with the first question: Why?

Mr Chase: 'I'm glad you asked me that. All these changes of strip are just a blatant money-grabbing exercise by cash-rich clubs with extremely poor dress sense. Look at Manchester United - five new shirt designs in just over two years. Look at Arsenal, or preferably don't. Their last away strip was less Joseph Technicolour Dreamcoat than Joseph Technicolour Yawn. But our latest design sinks to depths that even the shirt worn by the Mexican goalie cannot plumb. As chairman of Norwich, I have to ask myself especially why a club like ours, with such distinctive colours, even needs an away strip. What is the point when the only other yellow and green kit anyone of us has managed to track down in the Subbuteo catalogue is Nantes? Who are we trying to kid?'

I thought I must be dreaming. And indeed, at that moment I regained consciousness and heard the reporter say: 'Mr Chase, given that the club has marketed at least four different strips in the last year, don't you feel that you're putting parents in particular in a very difficult position?'

Mr Chase: 'No, not at all. If you see the number of people in our Barclay Stand wearing these shirts, then you would realise there's a demand.'

Reporter: 'A demand fuelled by the club?' Mr Chase: 'No, not at all. We feel these are very good value for money.'

By the 5pm news bulletin on the day of the new away strip, BBC Norwich had managed to assemble a typically solid piece of reportage from the conflicting facts pouring in and had changed the description from tartan to plaid. I put in a call to my contact, the lady in the club shop. 'This new strip,' I said. 'How much is it?' ' pounds 35,' she replied. 'Can you describe it for me?' I asked nervously. 'Well, it's, like, blue and purple and, well, it's a bit difficult really.'

She laughed and put the phone down, though not before I heard what I'm sure was a maniacal cackle from the boardroom.

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