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Leeds kits that bring back memories

As the Whites look forward to partnering with Adidas next season, TIAT writers look back on kits that mean something to them. Ciaran O’Hare starts us off...

General Views of Sport Venues After Events Postponed Due To Coronavirus Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images

Kits have become a massive part of the footballing culture, particularly for myself. My first jersey was the 2012/13 away, Macron (sigh). Kit looks alright, but this one is more for the memories of becoming a Leeds fan. It was the 2-1 victory over Everton in the cup that peaked my interest in Leeds United, and football in general. Why? The underdog victory enticed me, beginning the obsession that is unbreakable.

Soccer - npower Football League Championship - Nottingham Forest v Leeds United - City Ground
The 2012/13 away jersey - elegantly modelled by Alan Tate
Photo by Mike Egerton - PA Images via Getty Images

My first game was Neil Warnock’s last, a 2-1 defeat against Derby County in which fellow Scotsman, Ross McCormack scored a belter from the edge of the box, curling one straight into the top corner from a Paul Green lay-off. My favourite player had been chosen, which brings me onto the next season.

The 2013/14 season was met with real promise and blind optimism into a team that I never really understood in terms of their quality. Just look at the photo below, McCormack and Alex Mowatt were the beacons of hope in this team. I really like this kit, it was just a cool change with the stripe.

Leeds United v Birmingham City - Sky Bet Championship
This is a legendary photo in my mind, as it topped the BBC headlines following the early kick-off. Weird times.
Photo by Nigel Roddis/Getty Images

I can’t say much about the away kit that season, what was I thinking? I actually liked it, I have no clue why, nor will I look to justify. Of course, McCormack was wonderful for us that season, I liked Matt Smith a lot too. The ‘big geezer-little geezer’ combo upfront worked alright, and given the chaos of that season, McCormack kept us up that season.

Nottingham Forest v Leeds United - Sky Bet Championship
I still have a weird fondness for this kit, it just doesn’t look thought through. To the right is Gboly Ariyibi, someone who I had never heard of until writing this piece. You learn something everyday.
Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images

Other notes include Jimmy Kebe and Cameron Stewart - no comment required, Luke Murphy’s debut goal against Brighton, and his double against Blackpool, which was the first time I saw Leeds win live. Manager, Brian McDermott was an honest guy, and it was a shame to see him be put through Massimo Cellino’s early ownership antics, and he will always have the respect of the Leeds United faithful.

Skipping the quite frankly horrendous 14/15 season, the 15/16 season’s kits were stunners. Macron had been sent to the shops and Kappa had gotten off to a flyer, with the help of no primary shirt sponsor for the season. The first goal scored in this jersey was just as good, with Mirco Antenucci scoring a peach against newly relegated Burnley, spinning toward goal before whipping one straight round the keeper and into the top corner. The scenes were wild in the stands.

Leeds United v Brighton & Hove Albion - Sky Bet Championship
Lewis Cook was another shining star of the academy that ultimately kept us safe in mid-table, a joy to watch back then.
Photo by Daniel Smith/Getty Images

Uwe Rosler was inevitably sacked, and the disappointment of Steve Evans’ appointment was turned into respect (from some) for a passionate manager who did all he could to get us going, but it was clear that he wasn’t the man to take us to the next level.

As much as we don’t like him now, Garry Monk’s Leeds team let us dream again. Kappa brought another two great kits, particularly the blue and yellow away strip. Simple, cool and memorable, one of the best memories in that kit was Chris Wood’s equaliser at St James’ Park against Rafa Benitez’s Newcastle United.

Aston Villa v Leeds United - Sky Bet Championship
Luke Ayling arrived in Leeds for just £750,000 from Bristol City, and he hasn’t looked back since.

The fondest memories in the classic-looking home kit from that year include the 2-0 win over Aston Villa in December. Kemar Roofe scored his first Leeds goal, and Chris Wood finished them off, as many marked this game as the game that they began to believe that this Leeds team could be a dark horse in the top six. The 2-0 victory over Brighton and Hove Albion later in the season backed that ambition, with Chris Wood’s double prompting some of the best South Stand limbs we’ve ever had.

Leeds United v Brighton & Hove Albion - Sky Bet Championship - Elland Road
What a night - one of the best Elland Road atmospheres in the last decade
Photo by Dave Howarth/PA Images via Getty Images

The end of the season was of course disappointing, and the promise of building seemed to have gone when Monk and his team left, followed by Thomas Christiansen getting found out after a promising start.

But the 2018/19 jerseys will live long in the memory for what a ride it was, it’s still difficult to write about this season for me, especially considering the footballing withdrawal symptoms experienced during lockdown.

Leeds United v Hull City - Sky Bet Championship - Elland Road Photo by Clint Hughes/PA Images via Getty Images

The home jersey is plain but perfect, while the away kit looked pretty 90s (forgive me if I’m wrong, this is before my time). The third kit was very cool as well, although I was never sure of the Blue and White striped trim on the kit. It reminded me of a Victorian-era life guard costume.

The list of memories seem endless, games against Aston Villa and Derby probably hit top of that list, and they perhaps summarise the season within six matches. And it’s tough to look back at all of those memories, good and bad, but there is no doubt that the 2018/19 season will live long in the memory, along with those unmistakable kits.

Aston Villa v Leeds United - Sky Bet Championship
An incredible comeback, as Kemar Roofe scored a last-minute winner to complete The Whites’ 3-2 turnaround.
Photo by Alex Dodd - CameraSport via Getty Images

This season’s centenary kits are perhaps the most special of my selection, which have some dire entries given the time I’ve been a Leeds fan for. The centenary kits mark 100 years of this incredible club, and hopefully we can give them the best way to remember them by possible: promotion.

Once the centenary badge was sorted, the kit has a bit of a different look. Kappa went for a ‘premium’ look to mark the club’s 100th year. The platinum trim with the shining gold crest makes it unmistakable, while the Kappa emblem on the front went down a treat with the fans.

Leeds United v Huddersfield Town - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Alex Dodd - CameraSport via Getty Images

At the time of writing, lockdown has delayed the season, with solutions to ending the season being discussed. With nine games left, Leeds top the table, with plenty of great memories made so far this season. In the home kit, Luke Ayling’s volley against Huddersfield Town is certainly up there, while a rampant 4-0 victory at Hull City also springs to mind from the most recent matches.

The centenary match came with it’s own kit, and it’s own great goal to mark it’s appearance. A laced-up collar was quite the statement for a classic jersey for today, with the whited-out sponsors giving the most classic look possible.

Leeds United v Birmingham City - Sky Bet Championship
Destiny is struck has hometown hero Kalvin Phillips scores the winning goal on the centenary match.
Photo by Alex Dodd - CameraSport via Getty Images

And with it, a special goal for Kalvin Phillips, as it was only fitting for the hometown hero to score the centenary winner at Elland Road. Speaking of matches against Birmingham City, the reverse fixture stands-out as much as Leeds’ kit that day. The Grey and Electric Pink kit divided some fans on design, despite the jersey being one of the highest selling jerseys for many years.

Hopefully, there are many more great memories to come for Leeds United, and as the football world is at a stand-still, hopefully we can get back to a packed Elland Road very soon.