On Tuesday, we all learned that not only was "African Violet" apparently a colour, but it was also about to play a major part in our lives this year as our new away kit design was unveiled. Whilst some have embraced this newly discovered shade, many have been quick to voice their concern over the design on social media.
This is not the first time that some Royals fans will have to watch their team playing in an ensemble that some may have found cringeworthy. However, a cause for greater concern could be that some of the Royals more controversial and unpopular kit choices of recent seasons have coincided with seasons culminating in either cruel playoff defeat or the despair of relegation. Here, we investigate whether there really could be a link between a dodgy kit and a dodgy season…
- Goalkeeper strip 1997/98 season (RELEGATION)
It's the 90s: Britpop is dominant, something called the Internet has just emerged and, most evidently, there seemed to be a ban on any goalkeepers being allowed to wear a block colour jersey. It was in this aspect, that the Royals' kit designers flourished. David Seaman famously kept out Spanish penalties at Euro 96 (yes, we won one once) with his amazing technicolour wardrobe, which was more than a little bit similar to the kit donned by our own Shaka Hislop in THAT 1995 playoff defeat to Bolton. However, this 1997 effort is the sign of a decade in decline, with kits that now look to be composed of failed Tetris efforts. Cool Britannia had peaked, the Royals were relegated this season and worst of all, we lost to Swindon in this game.
- Away Strip 2007/08 (RELEGATION)
A dull and uninspiring affair that fittingly featured during our relegation season of 2007/08. As we have all seen in more recent years, there is very little good that can come from multiple shades of gray. Thankfully though, there seems to be no plans for this kit to be the first in a dreaded trilogy.
- Away Strip 2008/09 (PLAYOFF DEFEAT)
However, going bold hasn't always been the most fruitful option for the Royals either, as this luminous outing proves. The 2008-09 season saw the Royals back in the Championship after their first ever Premier League outing. Yet the future was not immediately bright in this orange kit, as we went on to experience yet more play-off heartbreak, this time to Burnley.
- Home Strip 2010/11 (PLAY OFF DEFEAT)
This was arguably the worst home kit that the Royals have seen in recent years. It may have been an attempt at an edgier take on the classic blue and white hoops. However, it gave off more of an impression that someone had lost the original kit designs the night before the deadline and had hastily thrashed out this idea using Microsoft Paint. As we have come to see, another questionable kit coincided with more pain for Royals fans, as we lost the 2011 Playoff Final to Swansea.
- Home/Away/Third Kit 2002/03 (PLAYOFF DEFEAT)
Admittedly, this is not an entirely fair selection. The home shirt itself is actually one of my favourites. However the story behind this picture was too good to leave out. I'm not sure at what point on the way to Bramall Lane someone realised that both the Royals socks and shorts would clash with Sheffield United's that evening, but the end result was, as you can see, this interesting ensemble. Forced to play in a mix of home, away and third strips, the Royals battled their way to a massive 3-1 win at Sheffield United, providing vital points in their eventually successful pursuit of a 2002/03 Division 1 play-off spot. Yet further misfortune awaited though, as Wolves put us out in the semis.
Is there really a curse though?
Can we really draw a link between kit design and success? Of course we can't. Taste is subjective and I may have just highlighted some of your personal favourite kits. Perhaps this is the year that we can put this myth to bed and mount a successful Championship campaign sporting our new, if not slightly outlandish gear! Who knows, in the future we may even only ever associate "African Violet" with untold levels of success.
All I will say though, is that two of my personal favourite kits were those of 2005/06 and 2011/12, and as we all know, those years share a very special connection. So basically...just bring back the collar!!!
Let us know what you think about our chances, or any of the selections I've made today by leaving us a comment below!