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The History of England's first football kit

International football rules now dictate that two teams playing against one another must each wear distinguishing, uniform kits. This rule did not exist on 30th November 1872, when England and Scotland played the first ever international match.

Unfortunately, the Football Association - even in the modern era - has never seen it important to register any details of the England football kit as worn by the players during matches. Thus, information about what exactly constituted kits in these early days is very hard to come by.

It is reasonably certain, however, that the earliest England football kit consistent of fanciful woolen shirts and knickerbockers, based on illustrations from the time.

At the aforementioned first ever international match, played in Glasgow at Hamilton Crescent, Arnold Kirke Smith wore a white woolen shirt with a carefully sewn diamond emblem in the centre. The shirt survives to this day, but is the only one from the game to do so, and so we have no idea whether the other players wore similar kits, or whether everyone brought something slightly different but with related elements.

The organisers for some early games did try to hire photographers to keep records of the matches, but these arrangements were often broken for quite whimsically Victorian reasons, and there are no photographs of the England team until 1876 - but even in this picture, they are all wearing suits, so the England football kit of the era cannot be seen.

It seems that uniformity was not actually such a big deal before 1879. Newspaper accounts of the time refer to England players wearing different shirts with England logos sewn to their chests, while it was the habit until the mid-1930s for all players to bring their own clothes choices for their lower halves.

In 1879, however, in response to the understandable criticism of a Birmingham newspaper, the Football Association agreed to standardise the England football kit, and purchased shirts to be worn by all players, thus starting football fashion on the road leading to the present day.

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