Tai Po FC 2014/2015 Home Shirt

It’s been a good winter break for Club 25, but today we return with a big green bang to Asia for our latest article! Ahead of us covering the club’s brand new 2017/2018 kit next week, today’s focus will be on an older shirt that should help introduce Tai Po FC to those unfamiliar with Hong Kong football!

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Lime green (we ought to write that in all caps for how eye-catching it is), navy, and white make for a combination that really shouldn’t work, be it on paper or in real life, yet these three colours come together to make for an attractive kit.

Ignoring the sponsors and club crest, one couldn’t be blamed for mistaking this top for a jersey out of Seattle, Washington State; the local Sounders MLS team is the only club of some repute across the world to wear lime green as their primary colours, with the much less well-known Forest Green Rovers of England having switched to lime green and black a few years ago after a rebrand. Of these two clubs, only Seattle has sought to pair its main hue with navy, previously using mid/sand blue and silver (MLS fashion really does get wild at times); the current home kit of the club introduced a similar colour combination to Tai Po, but to a much less effective degree.

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Where Seattle used a slightly lighter hue of navy, Tai Po’s design works much better through its higher degree of contrast and the spacing apart of lime body and sleeves through the shoulder panels, which wrap around the armpits. With adidas only starting to move its trademark spaghetti to the sides of the body around the 2016/2017 season, this particular effort almost seems retro nowadays; here, the three strands are picked out in white, resulting in the shirt being immediately identifiable as coming from adidas’ catalogue. From an aesthetic perspective, it works equally well by pulling the eye to this design feature, and away from the rather shocking lime colour.

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Perhaps the only way in which the shirt doesn’t work well is when considering it from a historical perspective.

Tai Po was established in 2002 as one of 11 district teams (Tai Po representing its eponymous area) competing in the then-new but since retired Third District Division, and started its life playing in mid green, which is reflected in its crest. This, then, is a clear visual hint that lime green wasn’t exactly Tai Po’s main colour; in fact, 2014/2015 would prove to be the only season in which the players would turn out looking like John Lennon circa Sergeant Pepper-era.

Although this was an attractive shirt (coupled with navy shorts and socks), common sense prevailed and mid green was reinstated for the next season; the right decision by our reckoning. After all, while there is no harm done in having a standout, less-than-traditional kit every once in a while (rather than all the time, like in the 90’s), it is important for clubs to ensure their visual identity is not diluted, for a club’s colours are the easiest things for fans to rally around. Although Tai Po has used different shades of mid and forest green over the years (accounting for the different suppliers and catalogues they had to work with), lime green was perhaps too radical a departure.

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Away from the glitz and glamour of the big European competitions (and regional behemoths like the Thai Premier League and J.League), clubs rely on local sponsors and connections to get their budgets filled, with Tai Po being no different; front of shirt sponsor is the Lee Kee Group (we had to resist making a pun with ‘leaky’ here), who deal in metals (producing, importing and exporting, QA, and consultancy), and have stayed on with the club as a loyal sponsor (we will find their branding once more on the 2017/2018 kit, moved to the lower back).

The sleeves feature three further sponsors, of which World Soccer is shared with many other HK league teams; after all, it’s the biggest supplier of teamwear to be found locally. Wofoo Social Enterprises deal with community outreach and services to vulnerable groups such as the elderly, and have also stayed on with the club; in fact, the team is nowadays officially known as Wofoo Tai Po. Finally, Swire Pacific are a foodstuffs company who are also the primary licensee of Coca Cola in Hong Kong, the branding of which is used here (we are going to assume that our enlightened readers need no further introduction to this partifular fizzy drink!).

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Here’s where the shirt gets points deducted; the crest is a sticker. Cardinal sin, honestly; beyond colours, the crest is the most important part of a shirt (and you’ve read that time and again on this site), and leaving it this vulnerable to the degenerative powers of repeated washing is just inexcusable. We accept, though, that this was due to adidas being lazy rather than any fault of the club itself.

What makes matters worse (or, well, better) is that Tai Po has a crest that outshines many of its HK peers in both complexity and class (to be honest, that’s not quite a feat when you share a league system with the minimalist logo of Wing Yee and figure-skater-crested Sai Kung). Tai Po got it right; team name in two languages to cater to the large majority of Hong Kong, a traditional Junk (the boat) to evoke imagery of the club’s home country, drawn in such a way as to allow it to be easily digitally reproduced, the standard football (with two smaller cousins to fill up some empty space), and a set of green waves tickling the leather. Intentional or not, the Junk and waves are reminiscent of the District Council’s emblem, paying homage to the club’s founders and the loyal set of fans in the district, creating clear ties with the area.

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The back yields sponsor Goldlion (new for that season), which is a holdings company and operates a holdings centre in Sha Tin District (next to Swire’s HQ! A coincidence?), plus a load of open space for name and number. In white (an unfortunate choice of colour here, as it isn’t picked out in navy) is adidas’ ClimaLite wordmark, confirming just what kind of polyester we are dealing with here. From our understanding, this is the exact same top as worn by the Tai Po players that season, as Formotion, TechFit, etc. are not available at this level.

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Dutchman Vincent Weijl chasing after the ball, leaving his Kitchee opponents behind

Although that’s all for the 2014/2015 kit for now, this is hardly the end for Tai Po coverage on Club 25, as we are very proud and excited to present the 2017/2018 kit on the site next week! In that article, we will delve further into the club and its place in Hong Kong football, in addition to, of course, sampling what the players and Tai Po faithful will be wearing this year.

However, if we’ve left you eager to learn more about HK football, rest assured that there are some excellent sources well worth a visit; first and foremost, Offside, which provides excellent coverage of the league system and national team, and the Hong Kong Football Association’s Official Site, which has a great section on the various clubs, where you can also take a look at their home and away kits for this season.

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Finally, Club 25’s team would like to extend its hearfelt gratitude and appreciation to friend of the site Adrian, one of Tai Po’s loyal fans who has been instrumental in allowing us to add this shirt and the 2017/2018 top to the internet for the world to see. It’s people like him and you, the rest of our dedicated and loyal readers, who make the hobby of football shirt collecting and the endeavour of compiling and building Club 25 so incredibly enjoyable and rewarding. Although January is already well underway, we would like to wish you a happy new year, and look forward to whisking you away once every week to discover new shirts, brands, players, and clubs, and to join in the wonderment for this passion we share between us.

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