The first recorded colours of Tottenham Hotspur are said to have been navy blue shirts with a scarlet shield on the left side of the jersey with the letter ‘H’ thereon. This was decided on at a meeting when the club was first put on an official basis prior to the start of the 1883-84 season. During its first season of 1882-83 it had been an ad hoc affair but Mr John Ripsher was its first President and Treasurer as from August 1883. At the end of the 1884-85 season, the club cancelled its last friendly of the season and went to the Oval to watch the FA Cup Final between Blackburn Rovers and Queen’s Park (Scotland). Blackburn Rovers won 2-0, the second of their three consecutive victories in the FA Cup Final. Spurs then adopted the Blackburn colours of blue and white half shirts but retained the letter ‘H’ on the shirt.
By the start of the 1889-90 season, Tottenham had switched to navy blue and white and presumably the letter ‘H’ was dropped as there is no mention of it. The following season they were playing in red shirts with blue shorts but they did not play in these colours for very long before the deeds of Preston North End persuaded them to adopt the colours we are more familiar with by switching to white shirts blue shorts.
The next change to the playing strip was the addition of the cockerel to the shirt. It is not clear exactly when this began but it was definitely _after_ the First World War. I suspect it may have been first used for the 1921-22 season because there is a photograph of the 1921 FA Cup Winning side wearing shirts with the cockerel present but the photos of the match itself does not show them wearing the cockerel badge.
Prior to the start of the abandoned 1939-40 season, numbers were added to the back of the shirts for the first time as the Football League gave permission for this to be adopted.
Sometime during the mid-1950s the design of the cockerel badge was changed so the cockerel reflected the model that sits on the roof of the East Stand than the actual form of a cockerel. There have been slight changes made over the years as the club switched the design according to whichever of the various designers they were employing. Some of us will remember the design by Admiral which Spurs used mostly during the mid-1970s. Most of us will recall the design of Le Coq Sportif where the cockerel featured in the middle of the shirt at the front rather than its traditional place on the left hand side of the shirt. There was a further change to the design when it became apparent that trading pirates could not be prevented from using the design so a new one was made and patented to prevent copying during Keith Burkinshaw’s time as manager.
In 1983, Spurs were first allowed to print the sponsor’s name on the shirt. In this case it was Holsten, the start of a long and successful partnership with that firm. Spurs have only had two sponsors as they spent four years or so with Hewlett Packard but have now resumed their partnership with Holsten.
Over the years, Spurs have experimented with alternative strips. In the ’60s the normal alternative of navy blue shirts with white shorts was discovered to be difficult to pick out in the floodlighting systems of those days. Spurs then experimented with yellow shirts for a while but found that an all white playing strip was even better except when there was a clash of colours. In the 1950s, Spurs experimented with blue and white stripes with black shorts but that was not a popular choice. There is also one occasion where Spurs played Port Vale in January 1955 in the FA Cup when Spurs played in blue and white stripes white shorts whilst Port Vale appear to have played in black and white stripes black shorts.
I hope this short article has explained something of the history of shirts that Spurs have used over the years. It does _not_ pretend to be a comprehensive history …..
By Brian Judson.