Wednesday Strip Show (Part 2)
The second (and final) part of a Q&A with John Devlin, the man responsible for the wonderful True Colours Football Kits books and web site.
It's great to have the Owls kits online but I gather there is a reason they're not in the books.
Thank you, yes, to be honest not being able to include the Wednesday kits was the biggest disappointment I had in producing the books. In fact the Owls were the ONLY club who refused permission (and this includes the big four and the home nation FAs). All the work was done, illustrations completed and permissions obtained from shirt sponsors and manufacturers past and present but Kaven Walker simply refused permission to allow me to include the work in the book. I spoke at length to the club's marketing department who were very helpful but ultimately the decision rested with him. I wrote to him personally, sent him a complimentary copy of Volume 1 to show that the project was a respectful celebration of football kit design, explained that Sheffield Utd were in the book (I had no problems with them at all - they agreed straight away) and virtually begged him, but to no avail. I never found out his reasons for refusing. I've since had many Owls fans email me, some angry thinking I'd deliberately left out the side, which prompted me to publish them online.
Which would be your favourite Wednesday kit (I have a soft spot for some of those lurid 80s away kits)?
The club have had some superb kits - and far fewer 'shockers' than most other teams! My full Owls kit history from 1977 onwards can be found here.
I think my favourites stem from either the Umbro or Puma periods. I would say the 84-86 yellow away kit and the 96-98 iconic orange away are my favourites. My favourite home kit would probably be one the late 80s Umbro ones. The club have an intriguing kit history with several notable fourth kits being worn - quite rare in the football world. Funnily enough though, I was recently contacted by Malcolm H. Stockdale whose MHS company were the club's first ever sponsor back in 1984. He's promised me an interview that tells the story behind the deal - hopefully that will be on the site soon.
I don't know if you know but we've just gone back to Puma for our new kits. I think most Owls fans are happy about that.
Great news! Sheffield Wednesday and Puma go together well. I love what I've seen of the new designs and its good to see charities getting valuable publicity on the shirts.
Which team do you support?
As a young boy I was a Liverpool supporter! Well, it was the late 70s and I was a big fan of Kenny Dalglish. As I got older though I found it hypocritical to call myself a Liverpool fan in a way as I lived so far from the city and only saw them play a few times and I began to watch Southend Utd who were my local side. I saw them regularly until I moved away from Essex in 1998. Nowadays though I'm much of a neutral fan - the only team I get really passionate about is the Scotland national side. My Dad is from Glasgow so I've never known anything other than supporting Scotland - despite my English accent. Its been pretty tough as you can imagine!
What is your top football memory?
My first major football memory was seeing Dalglish score the winner for Liverpool against Bruges in the 77-78 European Cup final. I think that was the first game I watched on TV. Other than that, Italia 90 was such a great tournament for any British fan. After the shocker Scotland had against Costa Rica it was wonderful to see them beat the fancied Swedes 2-1 in the next game. From games I've attended, the most memorable has to be the 1-0 Scotland win over Switzerland in Euro 96 thanks to a superb McCoist goal.
What does the future hold for True Colours?
I've been fortunate enough to have been asked to work on many different kit related projects recently and I'm also working on many True Colours ideas - mostly away from books though unfortunately and focussing primarily on my site and other various kit products. For example Danbury Mint have just produced a superb collection of Liverpool kit badges based on my illustrations that go back to the end of World War 2. I'm also working with many clubs throughout the divisions on their kit histories and doing regular features in programmes and magazines which is great. Interest in kit design history was ignored for so long in the football world that is superb to see so many people interested in it now and I'm really flattered whenever anyone contacts me to compliment me on my books.
Thanks to John for taking the time to talk to Vital Sheffield Wednesday. Be sure to visit his web site if you haven't already - http://www.truecoloursfootballkits.com
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