Crystal Palace 2015/2016 Away Shirt

The Crystal Palace theme month continues unabated at Club 25 Football as we turn to a rather recent fan favourite away shirt today – one that deftly combined the club’s home colours with a interesting take on the stereotypical sash that crops up at Selhurst Park from time to time. Made by Macron, a divisive supplier to say the least, it’s the 2015/2016 away shirt;

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We mentioned it in the previous article; Palace fans love the iconic white shirts with red/blue sash to the point where the club trots this design out as an away shirt almost every other year, even having it feature as home shirt during Erreà’s stint as supplier in South London.

Oh, and before we move on, don’t forget to check out the other articles we wrote about Palace shirts;

Of course, this constant reviving of a rather static kit – there are only so many variations on a sash – means that the club’s technical partners constantly have to reinvent the wheel without straying too far from the standard. And when we say constantly, we mean it; since the turn of the millenium, Crystal Palace have had nine different brands supply their shirts and all but one of these firms introduced a sash at some point during their partnership with the club (the odd one out here is Admiral, who lasted just a single season and designed a yellow-blue away shirt). Often times, this meant that the sash ended up being paired with a base colour other than white.

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Macron, Italian purveyors of passable/mediocre sports gear, were signed with Palace from 2014/2015 (replacing Avec) through to the end of 2017/2018 and introduced two kits ‘inspired’ by the sash; a competent if, again, mediocre yellow effort in 2016/2017 and the shirt we are featuring today.

Crucially, where the classic ‘white shirt with blue/red sash’ Palace kit is often taken and has its main colour twisted around, in this case Macron decided to play fast and loose with the sash itself – repositioning it away from its usual diagonal placement to a vertical orientation, running from the collar down through the centre of the shirt (terminating along the very bottom strip of fabric on these shirts). Taking this risk was a bit of a callback – perhaps unintended – to the ways in which TFG Sports in ’99/’00 and Errea in ’07/’08 decided to reposition the red and blue on a white base.

To add further interest, the stripes are offset by a single pinstripe on each side, mixing in the white base rather well. A lovely extra flourish that really goes a long way in making these colours stand out well. The press release noted that this was indeed inspired by the sashes of yore.

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Fair play to Macron, this is a fine away kit and what is arguably its best feature is the collar. A very simple, stretchy affair on the face of it, the Italian designers went the distance by rendering one half in red and one half in blue, lining up perfectly with the stripes down the centre of the chest. Smashing! Red on the right of the neck and blue on the left, these colours are split right down the centre to match up with the stripes, and similarly meet up in the exact centre of the back of the collar too.

Inside, a stickered tag is found reading out the sizing info (European XL, no sizes for other regions is given, which may have led to some guesswork across the world) besides the club crest and the now antiquated Macron logo (since replaced with a slightly better ‘javelin’, as the Italians describe it). The trouble with this kind of sticker is that it’s often washed out in the laundry, and so too does ours seem to have one of its corners peel away.

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What’s worse than having the tag in the neck peel off? Why, it’s having a positively massive sponsor sticker on the front of the chest peeling away! Although, in our case, the sticker has two small puncture holes; just our luck, if it hasn’t peeled yet, it has holes in it.

These shirts were initially launched without a sponsor following the lapsing of Palace’s contract with previous partners Neteller, and fans were hopeful that a tasteful new company would step up to the plate. Pre-orders opened on the first of June 2015 with the club noting that replica kits would be sold with the then-unannounced sponsor stuck on, so we imagine more than a few early birds were left disappointed when it was revealed that their pre-ordered shirts would have the logo of the Mansion Group on them.

So much for tasteful, then. Yes, to their credit, Mansion were kind enough to tailor the colours in their logo to those of the club (with blue not normally appearing on their marketing outings), but that massive M, the word ‘Mansion’ in a different font, and two big Chinese characters really don’t combine to form an endearing whole. Bear in mind that this shirt we have in front of us is a size XL (although it fits more like an L), meaning that Mansion’s logo looks less massive than it does on smaller sizes.

Now we’re on the topic anyway, Mansion Group are, of course, a gambling firm with a focus on online casinos. Called an ‘entertainment heavyweight’ by Palace chairman Steve Parish upon the signing of the contract, Mansion were a convenient part of the club’s strategy to rekindle its relationship with the Chinese market, which was originally struck by the signing of players Fan Zhiyi and Sun Jihai back in the 90’s.

We here at Club 25 abhor gambling-related sponsors and always cheer for their departure from football clubs, but when Mansion’s contract with Palace ended following the 2016/2017 season, we were greeted by yet another Chinese betting company; ManBetX, who remain on the shirts to this day. Mansion, who sponsored Tottenham Hotspur prior to joining forces with Palace, are now attached to AFC Bournemouth, where they have their logo on a black rather than a blue background (again respecting the club’s home colours).

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Ah yes, Macron, we meet again; a generally well-liked brand amongst kit collectors, we’ve personally never understood what the appeal of these guys is. The standard teamwear that comes out of their Bologna factory is often times terribly poor, whilst the many professional teams supplied by Macron are never really bestowed with standout kits. Really the best shirt by Macron found on this site is this Ross County home kit, but if you’re curious about some of their other work, check out these articles;

As said, Macron signed Palace to its stable of customer teams ahead of 2014/2015 and lost the South London side to Puma following the 2017/2018 season. This meant that the brand was responsible for four home kits, four away kits, and a single third kit (’17/’18). How Macron is currently regarded by the fans of Crystal Palace, almost two years on from their departure? Well…. let’s just say that we personally have never met anyone who liked the home shirts of 2015/2016 (a half-baked, not-quite-there harlequin design) and 2016/2017 (a penguin strip that just didn’t work for Palace). Still, Macron’s tenure with the club coincided with some pretty decent football (a tenth placed finish in the Premier League and a FA Cup Final outing), so we expect the rosy memories to make up for what some of Macron’s designs lacked in charm.

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Same crest as last week, this being the current mark worn by Palace players on the chest (outside of societal lockdown anyway). We professed to not being enamoured with this design, much prefering the previous crest introduced in the 90’s. The embroidery used here is slightly different compared to that seen on the Avec shirt, but it really doesn’t sway our opinion. Bring back the old bird, we say!

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Before adopting the javelin as their new logomark, Macron plastered their stupid toilet bowl / cheering stick figure logo on the sleeves of most every team they supplied, and so too did Palace see their shirts adorned by bathroom sanitation. Worse still is that these are stickered on in much the same way as the Mansion logo and the tag inside the collar, meaning that one trip too many to the laundromat will see them washed away. Either embroider or sublimate these stupid things if you must, but never, ever render them as easily damaged stickers, thank you very much.

On that note, it is good to see that the stretchy cuff detailing on both sleeves corresponds to the colour of the stripes and the collar; blue on the left half of the shirt and red on the right. How disappointing, then, that Macron’s bowls are both done up in blue; so close to perfect symmetry, only to bottle it right at the finish line.

Do pay extra attention to the way the cuffs are built up, with indents and white embroidery along the coloured stretchy fabric for added durability.

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Macron’s proprietary MPerformanceSystem gets an outing in the bottom corner of the front, opposite an ‘official team equipment’ jock tag; both are flanked by insets of stretchy fabric along the sides of the shirt, which mirror the function of their cousins on the sleeve cuffs; improved durability by virtue of stretching rather than tearing when being pulled.

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The back of the shirt is a bit of a let down compared to the front, with the central stripes being wholly absent. Now, Macron could have been forgiven for truncating them halfway up/down the shirt to make room for the squad numbers and player names, but to not even make an attempt is really poor form – and just a wee bit lazy. Fans paid full price for these shirts, so you’d expect they’d get a complete product rather than a full-fledged front and an underdone reverse.

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A small attempt was made still, with the club’s name embroidered just below the collar, but it doesn’t really make up for a back that is otherwise devoid of detailing.

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Not that Macron needed to leave much space on the reverse of these shirts; no back of shirt sponsor was ever signed by the club, so instead you had the squad numbers awkwardly float in the middle of the shirt, with the names in their usual position on the upper back. Now, the shirts were usually paired with white shorts with blue detailing and white socks with red/blue turnover, but in the above image (taken from the away match at Stamford Bridge versus Chelsea), the away shirts and shorts were worn with the home socks to avoid a clash.

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Not the most inspiring of launch adds, but we’ll take it; these away shirts were paired off with the rather mediocre home shirts of 2015/2016 (albeit both shared the odd bottom hem, where the stripes are cut off in favour of red on the home and white on the away), which may have played a small part in the popularity of the design. Even Steve Parish could barely avoid admitting that the away shirt was the better design between the two of them, mentioning during the launch that ‘I think the two shirts we’ve got this year, particularly the away shirt, are fantastic’.

This crucially followed the excuse that ‘there’s only so many things you can do with a striped shirt’ which attempted to explain why the home shirt was so naff, with Parish finally blaming the fans themselves and those filthy continental fellows by saying ‘we take a lot of inspiration from the fans and look at kits around Europe’.

Note that without the massive MANSION MANSION BET WITH US ONLINE message on the chest the away shirt looks even better, a real class act. We feel for the fans who pre-ordered, thinking they’d get a relatively unspoilt kit.

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Was 2015/2016 a season to remember for Crystal Palace? You betcha, the club managed to beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, putting further pressure on Jose Mourinho, and reached the FA Cup Final. Sure, they lost the trophy to Manchester United in extra time, but with the scalps of Southampton, Stoke, Spurs, and Watford dangling from their belt on the way to Wembley, it was a cup campaign to be very proud of.

The league season was slightly less memorable; Palace had finished 10th in 2014/2015 but failed to repeat that high, instead finishing 15th. With a points total of 42, the Eagles remained somewhat comfortably ahead of Newcastle United, relegated in 18th place with 37. Bournemouth and Sunderland finished 16th and 17th, adding a further buffer between Palace and the relegation zone.

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It’s a shame Palace were drawn as the home team in the final versus United, because it meant the home shirt was worn. Had the Red Devils been given the privilege of wearing their home colours, this white shirt would have gotten a rather memorable outing – further cementing it as a great kit. Because it really is just that, even if it’s by no means perfect. Sure, we can moan about the back and the dodgy stickering, but it doesn’t change the fact that, overall, it’s a strong, evocative design that resonated well with the fanbase and, from what we heard, broke sales records at the time. No wonder, then, that the club has used a sash in some way, shape, or form for its alternate kits every single season since – a practice we expect will continue for a few more years still.

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.

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