Admiral Sports Celebrates 50 Years of Innovation with Commemorative Replica Shirt Book

Clocking in at half a century in the sportswear game, Admiral Sports is undeniably a paragon amongst brand titans - the doyen, if you will, of football replication. Britain's longest-standing sports apparel manufacturer has now curated their evolution in a stirring commemorative anthology aptly christened '50 Years of the Replica Shirt'.

Admiral Sports, not just a brand but a vanguard of an era, was the first in the industry to dare to play with an array of colors for a football jersey. Moving away from the singular block color norm, their groundbreaking sartorial move was seen in the Leeds United kit rolled out in 1973. They gifted football a true sartorial transformation that, in an almost poetic alignment, came to be with television's transition from monochrome to a world bursting with color. This revolutionary chromatic approach presented clubs a fresh marketing strategy and an extra revenue stream. They could flaunt these audacious kits on the pitch before offering faithful fans a chance to feel closer to their beloved team by owning and sporting replicas.

Admiral didn't shy away from making waves and reaped the rewards of their forward-thinking moves. Their success, captured perfectly with the Leeds's kit that found its way into the public sphere as both a replica jersey and tracksuit, became the inaugural spark that ignited the replica-kit market. And if you were thinking they stopped there, you'd be greatly mistaken...

The book is a visually engaging blend of newly snapped photography and archival images, melded with original design illustrations and poignant contributions from collectors. This keepsake has been brought to life via a rewarded collaboration with a self-sufficient football publisher. In collaboration with the football content agency Glory, Halcyon Publishing is combining art and literature to pay homage to football heritage. The book is a meticulously pressed leaf from the tree of football memory, adorned with rich illustrations. It takes a journey through stories of legendary football kits and their historical significance.

A star-studded lineup of football’s finest writers, such as Harry Pearson, Rob Bagchi, Daniel Gray, Ian King, Andi Thomas, and Ian Plenderleith, have penned extensive essays to lend weight to the visual tapestry. Adding to the depth and relevance of the book are contributions from celebrity fans that include Maisie Adam, Mark & Paul Watson, James Brown, and Guy Mowbray. Professors Jean Williams and Andrew Groves shed an academic light on the shirt designs that have had a pioneering influence on social norms and manufacturing trends.

To close the nostalgia loop, football icons like Gary Lineker, Alan Shearer, Sue Smith, Peter Shilton, Roy Hodgson, Viv Anderson, and Mark Hateley offer poignant reflections on their personal experiences wearing the kits. Capping it all off, an exhaustive illustrated directory of Admiral kits is presented by designer John Devlin. The year marking the inception of replica shirt sales, 1974, has been commemorated with the production of 1,974 individually numbered, hardback books, now available for pre-order from Admiral for £45 each. This collection is not renewable, paving the way for a softback edition to hit retail shelves later in 2024.

Rob MacDonald and Adam Bushby (Halcyon Publishing) said: "Opportunities like this don’t come around very often and we’re thrilled to be working with our friends at Glory and a brand like Admiral on this book. To be able to mark such a massive piece of football history and most importantly fan culture in such a spectacular way is something we’re very proud of.” Lee Nash of Glory Studio shared their sentiments, singing praises of Admiral, a significant player in the book.

"Admiral are a cult brand – the England ’82 shirt is still worn with pride on Euro and World Cup terraces today, so it’s an absolute privilege to help celebrate the huge impact the brand has had in pioneering the replica shirt market. From the early Leeds shirt to the stunning William Morris-inspired Walthamstow kit, Admiral keep reinventing themselves – and we couldn’t be more excited to document it.”

Appreciating this remarkable endeavour, Theo Hamburger, the Marketing Head at Admiral Sports, shares his enthusiasm: "With over 110 years of history it is a great honour to be able to collate many of the most important football shirts since Admiral invented the replica football kit market 50 years ago. These pieces are important parts of both football tradition, culture and design. In Halcyon and Glory, Admiral have found partners that are both experts in the world of football, in addition to being fans of the brand. We are very excited to be releasing the first official Admiral retrospective.”

Embodying this shared excitement, we're thrilled to announce the inaugural official Admiral retrospective, the '50 Years of the Replica Shirt.' This limited-edition release is now exclusively available at Go ahead, rev up your collection, and follow along the Admiral throwback journey. Sign up to our Newslettter for more!

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