After last week’s article on AFC Wimbledon’s first Admiral-made home shirt, we promised the second shirt would also be featuring on Club 25; this is something we’re quite happy to make good on, considering the classic English brand’s second stab at designing a home top for the Wombles was a lot more succesful;
Now that’s more like it! AFC Wimbledon is the only current Football League club to traditionally use blue as a primary and yellow as a secondary colour (Mansfield and Shrewsbury use the same combo, but with yellow as primary), so for Admiral to go as minimalist with the yellow as they did here was a bit of a gamble, but one that arguably paid off.
A deep blue forms the base of the shirt, upon which thin horizontal lines in a slightly lighter shade are placed; these are set about ten inches apart on this shirt, which is a size Medium and thus looks a whole lot better than the last week’s Large.
Speaking of that shirt, if you haven’t read the article dedicated to it, do so now! We introduce the club and give a bit of background information about the seasons in which it was worn, which you won’t find in today’s article.
What is interesting to note is the fact that the sleeves on this shirt are a slightly darker blue than the torso – as pictured above. This is a distinction often missed in graphics made of this kit and, truth be told, it wasn’t until we took it out for the photo session that we realized the difference between sleeves and body.This design choice is more than just a little odd, and we fail to see the reasoning behind this. However, the embroidered Admiral wordmark (one on each sleeve) is a lovely touch that was absent from the 2014-2016 shirt.
The sizing information got a bit of an update compared to the previous shirt, but it remains stickered inside a relatively plain collar – one which uses the same dark blue as the sleeves do – with a line of yellow set at its top. Again, we’re not sure why Admiral went for the darker blue here, but as a result, the torso of the shirt almost looks like a tank top when closely inspected. This is easily overlooked however, unlike the yellow on the collar not lining up around the seam down the middle of the front.
The Wombles’ crest appears in the usual place, with one of the lighter blue lines running behind the embroidered ‘Wimbledon’. Note the sleeve cuff; together with the line on the collar, this is the only yellow fabric on the shirt – making this the least yellow shirt the club have had since 2004-2006.
Not that having less yellow is a bad thing per se; it is very much AFC Wimbledon’s best-known look, but if it is implemented as haphazardly as on the 2014-2016 shirt, you may well be better off without it. The light blue lines are a competent replacement; they add a note of interest to the shirt without jumping out at you, as it were.
As per the club’s policy of not fleecing fans for all they are worth, this kit was kept for two seasons – both 2016/2017 and 2017/2018. Where the previous top had seen two great seasons (a highest ever 15th place in 2014/2015 and promotion via the play-offs in 2015/2016), this one was worn during a period of consolidation as AFC Wimbledon made its debut in League One. 2016/2017 saw a 15th placed finish out of 24 teams, whereas 2017/2018 saw the team slip a bit further down, finishing 18th.
Perhaps more monumental than the promotion itself was the prospect of playing league matches versus Milton Keynes, who were called exactly that in the Wombles’ match programme (about which the FA are still bitching to this day). The team that had been torn out of Wimbledon over a decade prior to the 16/17 season to take up residence in a soulless block of concrete in Buckinghamshire would finally face the side founded by fans to fill the void. A Dean Bowditch penalty saw AFC lose the away match in Stadium mk on the 10th of December 2016, but a most glorious victory was won at Kingsmeadow, when Milton Keynes were put to the sword with a 2-0 scoreline on the 14th of March 2017.
Sports Interactive continued their sponsorship of the team, albeit with the Football Manager branding continuing to appear on the shirts in favour of SI’s own logo. Unfortunately, the same type of stickering was used as on the previous Admiral shirt, identical in material, size, and application. In last weeks article one could see that the tips of the yellow ‘boomerangs’ were starting to come unstuck on the 14-16 shirt, but the logo on the 16-18 top is in much better shape, thankfully. Such is the peril of machine washing these shirts that you should always be careful with them.
As is so often the case with kits, the back is made of a special mesh that supposedly helps evaporate sweat. This back panel is connected to the front, made of regular polyester, through a strip that runs from the armpits to the bottom hem, as seen above. The tonal lines from the front of the shirt do not continue onto the back, which is a bit of a shame considering the pinstripes of the previous shirt did in fact appear on the reverse.
One final look at the back, to confirm that the sleeves are indeed a wee bit darker than the torso. The yellow on the collar and cuffs does wrap around to the back, but otherwise, it is completely plain. More than enough space for a name and number to be printed, naturally, but we do prefer our shirts to have something going on when seen from behind. A small embroidered eagle would have been lovely, or the club’s crest sublimated on the lower back.
The players seemed to like these shirts well enough – there is no other way to explain the outburst of joy pictured above. AFC Wimbledon made use of white lettering for the reverse of the shirt across both of the seasons in which these tops were used; blue shorts and socks (the former with a similar light stripe down the sides, the latter with yellow turnover and the club’s name on the back) made for a solid kit overall.
Sure, the club is now playing in some of the dullest Puma shirts known to man, but the future remains bright for this cuddly club (owing to its hardfought status as Football League member following the grave injustice wrought upon them just after the turn of the century). New Plough Lane is due to open a couple of seasons from now, which will see the Dons finally leave Kingsmeadow, which they’ve had to share with Kingstonian for most of their tenure (this lower league side has left since, with Chelsea’s women taking up residence instead).
Last season, AFC Wimbledon narrowly escaped relegation and will look to secure safety by slightly bigger margin this time around – helped along by Bury’s demise and Bolton Wanderers playing kids and starting on -12 points. With a bit of luck, the Puma contract will run out some time soon and not be renewed, which will hopefully see a better brand get a shot at making AFC’s shirts. It’d be great to see Admiral being offered a second chance, but then there will be many more chomping at the bit to supply this wonderful club as they enter a new era at a new stadium.
That’s just about all you need from us for now, but as always, we would like to remind you that Club 25 is a weekly publication – expect a brand new article from us next week, so keep checking back for when we have a new shirt going live. Additionally, keep up to date with us on our Twitter page and flick through the site’s Shirt Archive to see what shirts we’ve covered in the past.