Every once in a while a shirt comes along and makes heads turn wherever it is being worn. Whether a hallmark of good design or an affront to good taste and the human senses, those shirts (few and far between in number) are some of the most coveted by kit enthusiasts for their unique character and the accompanying reputation.
Today, we here at Club 25 are immensely proud and overjoyed to show you one such shirt; one that may not have the infamy of Matchwinner or Ribero shirts, but is no less a collector’s item because of it.
Pictured is the home shirt for Nogometni Klub Jadran Dekani, designed and supplied by Italian firm Errea and worn in the Slovenian Second League. While the form of this top is very much standard (the collar, for instance, is used on a number of templates this season), it’s intrinsic design couldn’t be further from convention. While hardly objective, we think this is a clear frontrunner for the title of most beautiful (if not unique) shirt of the season.
Drawing from Dekani’s principle (blue) and secondary (white) colours, Errea has bestowed a design that seems to be stuck halfway between a map you’d find in a world atlas and the scratched and weathered hull of a fishing vessel; this seems fitting for this humble club and town, which find themselves a short distance inland from Slovenia’s miniscule Adriatic coastline (a strip of 46 kilometers of rocky beaches and ports squished between Italy and Croatia).
While not directly situated on the coast like the nearby city of Koper, the influence of the Adriatic Sea on the club’s identity extends to both its name and crest; Jadran means as much as ‘the Adriatic’ in Slovene and a number of other South Slavic languages, and the sailboat betrays further ties with the sea. With the club’s name in writing above it, a split shield features as crest with two light blue fields and the stylized boat and ball (which is, oddly enough, designed using hexagons rather than the more usual pentagons).
Erreà’s branding is found on the opposite chest, with this closeup also helping to show the fabric’s star-shaped pattern (which increases breathability and the whisking away of sweat and water). The collar is has multiple overlapping components (the dark blue rims set over the light blue back folds), with some further branding on the inside of the shirt. As an interesting sidenote (although sadly not visible here), the pricetag listing Dekani’s specifics is stickered over a similar tag meant for QPR’s 17/18 kit. Bit of a mix-up in the factory perhaps, but rectified in time for delivery to the club. The tag also notes that the kit is officially coloured ‘celestial blue’ and ‘cyan’
We are not entirely sure which of the three blues is celestial and which cyan, but it hardly matters to the casual observer; the right side of the top is covered in a large smattering of the darkest blue, with a bit of the two lighter shades peeking through the gaps. It shows an incredible layeredness, with the darkest tone seemingly the upper colour, smeared over the light blue, which in turn seems to be a coating for the the medium blue (the shirt’s real base colour, if the scratch marks are any indication).
Although the torso is highly asymmetric from the front, the sleeves use the exact same design, albeit mirrored from one to the other. Koper-based maritime towing and salvage company Adriatow has its logo woven into the left sleeve in much the same manner as club crest, Erreà logo, principle sponsors Titus (hydraulics) and Malizia (no idea), and back sponsors Sportajmo (the club’s Erreà agent). In fact, the only part of the shirt that is susceptible to wear is the Erreà logo and sizing information printed on the inside of the collar, making this shirt virtually undestructible by machine washing.
The back of the shirt is a bit heavy on branding compared to the typical kit, but it is more interesting to note that it is a mirrored rendition of the front’s design outside of the sponsors and a symmetric block of medium blue that has been added in order to comply with (inter)national squad number regulations. While the sponsors may interfere with player names on the international stage, the Slovenian Football Association does not require them to be present on Second Division shirts, which means Dekani’s supporters will have to rely on faces and numbers only to identify players on the field.
If you are left wondering how we managed to get our grubby mits on this fantastic kit, rest assured that it was no easy feat; as NK Dekani is a small club run by the local community, the Editor-in-Chief rerouted his summer holiday to Croatia to run just past Dekani en route to an overnight stay in nearby Ankaran.
Dropping in at half time during the league match versus NK Brežice 1919 on the 12th of August wielding nothing but a complete lack of understanding of the Slovenian language and an ill-chosen scarf (orange, which also happened to be the colour of Brežice’s away kit), he managed to annoy the kind lady running Kampo Bar (the club’s bar, cantine, and clubhouse) and a player from the second squad into sending him to the club’s chairman and other officials, from whom the shirt was purchased.
Kampo Bar (pictured on the left here) sits at the entrance of Dekani’s ground, the Igrišče Ivan Gregorič which holds some 2500 spectators. The ground lies at the top of the hill on which the town of Dekani, home to some 1500 inhabitants, is built, and features the Bar, dressing rooms and club offices, a neatly kept natural grass pitch, an additional artificial training surfaces. Given the town’s rather small size, it is an amazing feat that the local community and businesses have grown their club to an impressive size; having been crowned champions of the third tier of Slovenian football in 2016/2017, the Pesjani (which translates to scamps) are now settled into the top half of the second tier.
The match against Brežice ended with a 1-1 score, which proved to be a relief to players and fans alike as Brežice’s Omer Seferović’ goal in the 65th minute put the visiting team ahead, before a late punt from Dekani’s Aleks Petrovčič saw the home team pull level ahead of the final whistle. This made for a thoroughly enjoyable affair in the Mediterranean sun, with the local fans seated in the shadow on the concrete-chic main stand (picture taken after the match ended).
We would like to extend our gratitude to the club officials at NK Dekani, the staff at Kampo Bar, and the good men and women that make up Dekani’s support for the incredible hospitality they showed Club 25, and their kindness in allowing this absolutely amazing top to be purchased (the kits weren’t being sold on the open market yet as extra stock had yet to arrive). The time spent among them was simply amazing, and further proof of the power of endearment and camaraderie football has (which we previously experienced at Hougang United, Edinburgh City, and Arbroath). NK Dekani and the town of Dekani have a special place in our hearts, and we can not wait to visit our Slovenian friends again!
If you, as reader, would like to support NK Dekani or perhaps get your hands on your very own shirt, you can Like and contact the club on Facebook, as well as visit the official site. We hope you enjoyed our look at their wonderful shirt and the visit we made to the town, and we look forward to your next visit to our site!
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