Arsenal's Bruised Banana Is Back But Fans Are Split

Arsenal's Bruised Banana Is Back But Fans Are Split
19:00, 16 Jul 2019

The phrase “bruised banana” is as much a part of the football kit lexicon as pinstripes, shadow print and Umbro diamonds.  

It refers to an iconic adidas Arsenal away kit that was worn between 1991 and 1993 by the likes of Ian Wright - a yellow, blue and red design which is still talked about in excited tones by football kit collectors nearly 30 years after its launch.

Released in the same summer as Manchester United’s "acid blue" away kit, another classic of its time, the designs took the concept of fabric sublimation to new levels and opened the door for a decade of radical, stunning and plain awful shirts. The kit frequently makes the top 10 lists of both the best and worst kits ever made such is its notoriety.

Adidas - having replaced Puma as the Gunners’ kit supplier earlier this year - have resisted the temptation to bring back the “bruised banana” in all its glory for next season but its influence is clear to see in the new away kit which was finally released today after months of leaks. 

“It’s retro, remastered,” boasted a tweet from the club this morning. "The design features a modern twist on the historic ‘bruised banana’ graphic," said a club spokesman. "A minimal, shaded zig-zag pattern adorns the famous bright yellow of the Arsenal away shirt. The revived and redesigned kit for this season, previously a symbol of the adidas and Arsenal partnership, brings the past into the present with this bold new design."

The new kit will be worn for the first time at Arsenal's pre-season friendly against Bayern Munich in the International Champions Cup in Los Angeles on Wednesday and its first Premier League use will be at Newcastle United on Sunday, August 11.

The majority of supporters seem happy with the new kit but some have moaned it looks willfully obscure. However, the biggest criticism of the latest incarnation of the bruised banana is that it's not bold enough, with some craving a design more faithful to the original classic.

Despite these objections, this new release can be marked down as a win for adidas who played a blinder with the home kit as well while the soon-to-be released third kit which is dark blue. However, the German brand's half-and-half Juventus shirt met with widespread horror.

It’s a common tactic of adidas to plunder the archives when they take over a contract of one of their former customers. They did the same thing with Manchester United a few years ago but recent incarnations - including the unsightly “savannah” away kit - would suggest it’s a strategy not without flaws. Adidas supplied Arsenal between 1986 and 1994 before losing the contract to Nike.

Ian Wright famously ridiculed Arsenal’s last kit made by Puma and news of the club’s switch to adidas was greeted with near-universal delight by Gunners fans. It was in fact Wright who accidentally posted a photo of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette wearing the new kits which sparked such interest in the first place.

For football fans of a certain age, Arsenal in a yellow away kit just feels right. Arsenal wore yellow in 1971 when they won the FA Cup Final against Liverpool and they were in yellow at the Cup Final again in 1979. And of course the Gunners clinched the Championship with a stoppage-time winner from Michael Thomas - wearing yellow - at Anfield in 1989. 

Traditionalists will enjoy seeing Arsenal back in yellow away from home - in recent years the flirtations with black, blue, turquoise, and gold have not gone down well. Umbro famously dressed Arsenal in a stunning green and blue kit in 1982. 

Nike enjoyed a great relationship with Arsenal as kit supplier but even they had their off days. Who can forget the black and purple hooped effort of 2012-13? Or when they dressed Arsenal in an all-white shirt, amusing fans of hated neighbours Tottenham in the process?