Norwich City 2020/2021 Third Shirt

When you play in yellow and green, do you really need an away kit outside of the odd away trip to Watford or a cup tie against Oxford or Harrogate or some such team that happens to share your main colour? Not really, but that has never stopped our dear Norwich City from trotting out an alternative shirt every season just in case. But third shirts? When you can very easily cover all your bases between your home and away shirts? A bit overkill, so you might as well go completely crazy when you release one. And that just so happens to be exactly what Erreà did in what sadly proved to be their final season in Norfolk! Let’s take a closer look at the title-winning black/purple/fuchsia/pink/white third shirt of 2020/2021!;

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Now that is…. possibly the wackiest shirt we’ve seen Norwich wear since the deliciously retro third kit of 2016/2017; a good five years since that top was released, which is an eternity in football, really. For reference, Alex Neil was head coach while the team featured the likes of long-forgotten Canaries like Yanic Wildschut and Mitchell Dijks.

There is no escaping the fact that a third kit is completely superfluous for Norwich City, proven by the fact that in the seasons since the egg ‘n cress revival, we’ve gotten rarely used purple (17/18), lime green (18/19), and black (19/20) third shirts which were all just a bit…. naff, really. All of them disfigured by betting sponsors as well, which for this humble site kills most of the buzz we can have about a given shirt.

For all the faults of the concept of a third shirt being used by the Canaries, there is one big advantage; an extra strip per season affords Erreà another canvas to do something creative with, and for 2020/2021 they finally put that opportunity to good use again. They did so well, in fact, that these shirts were sold out for large swaths of the season! The away and third shirts for a given season are typically produced in smaller numbers compared to the home shirt, but where the godawful ‘petrol’ away kit (which had a turgid losing record in the few matches it was worn) was a true shelfwarmer, this fantastic, bombastic third top continued to sell out whenever it got restocked. Lucky us to have nabbed one just as a recent restock came in, to coincide with the club offering a ‘2 for 45’ deal on all replica tops. The price dropped even further later on in the season, which goes to show that patience is a must when looking for good deals on replica shirts.

Seeing as we are massive fans of Norwich City (and will even be living in this gorgeous city from next month onwards!), we’ve obviously covered a whole heap of shirts in the past. If you fancy reading up on any one of them, do use the links below to take you to the relevant articles elsewhere on the site;

With that out of the way, let’s turn our attention back to this latest kit and see how it holds up!

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Launched on September 25th 2020 following the utterly forgettable home shirt and the downright awful away shirt, the third kit received a fair bit of praise right off the bat. ‘Proper naughty’, ‘This is fire!’, ‘Better than the away kit’, ‘Very bold’, and so on. However, there were a fair few mentions of the betting sponsor persisting and of the contentious decision to alter the crest.

The absence of the castle and shield on the chest really is the elephant in the room, as the club had not messed with its emblem since the white-and-blue centenary kit of 2002/2003 – a one-off shirt paying hommage to the original colours of 1902 that featured dual canaries and scrolls in place of the usual design. Outside of that one exception, the canary+castle+shield combo had been used across all shirts since 1972 – which certainly should be one of the longest streaks of a single crest being used in the English leagues.

The decision to retain only the canary perched on a football was obviously informed by the shirt’s design, which consists of graffiti-like splodges of four different colours running across a black background. These are orientated with a slightly diagonal slant, with thin black lines running through them to further complicate matters. Running from the raglan sleeves – which remain fully black – all the way down to the bottom hem, it’s quite unlike anything Norwich City have ever worn, and one could quite frankly make the argument that this shirt is unlike anything seen before on any football club. We are happy to be proven wrong on that notion, should you know of a similar shirt worn by a different side prior to 2020.

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Adjusting our scope and closing in on the lower half of the shirt, where the design is unencumbered by sponsor’s presence, we can see how black takes a slightly more dominant role as compared to the upper half – crucially and cruelly, the coloured bands are set much closer together behind Dafabet’s logo and wordmark. The lower half, in contrast, is much more tranquil thanks to the increased amount of black.

Talking about those four colours that make up the vibrant bands, the lightest of the lot is obviously white, but the other three have been named as fuchsia (the pinkish colour), purple, and…. well, the fourth one didn’t get a name in the official press release.

Semantics aside, we do think the base design of the shirt looks terrific despite black being perhaps a tad overrepresented. It does make sense for Erreà to have done it this way, though, as fuchsia, pink and purple could very quickly overwhelm a kit – and we suspect a fair few fans that bought this shirt would have been more hesistant had the black taken a back seat. Design is always a balancing act between commanding attention and toeing the line of marketability, with the latter having quite sensibly won out in this case.

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To circle back around to the crest, we really do want to emphasize quite how much a milestone this shirt is, with only the centenary shirt having previously altered the crest.

To be quite upfront about it, we like the way Erreà have tackled things here and agree that this was the only way out in regards to bringing this shirt’s design to market; you cannot have the regular crest on here as the green and yellow would clash horribly with the shirt’s own hues, and recolouring the standard design would likely look awful. Norwich’ traditional crest just does not lend itself to such antics, where a fair few of the modern crests currently used in football do.

Just last month we checked in with AFC Bournemouth, who recoloured their crest to turquoise and teal for their 20/21 away shirt. In 2019/2020, Aston Villa did the same for their retro-inspired third kits. Brighton are a slightly less recent example, whereas Birmingham City pioneered the method in 1992 with their infamous paint splodge kit.

The difference between the Cherries and Villans on one side and the Canaries on the other is that the crests of the former duo are modern creations (introduced in 2014 and 2016 respectively) that were designed with colour-swapping in mind, seeing as the gimmick of retouching your crest for alternative kits was popularized in the 00’s. In our minds the classic Norwich crest is much less flexible, so to strip it back to only retain the canary and ball and apply them in a silvery white on this shirt was the smart choice.

However, and we can’t stress this enough, we want this to be a one-off occurrence; do not alter the existing crest on the home shirt, ever. Do not even think about. No. Don’t. Delia and Michael, please don’t do it. We’ve seen so many perfectly fine crests thrown in the rubbish in the past decade in favour of needless redesigns, that the thought of it happening to Norwich is both utterly harrowing and convincingly realistic; it could happen! West Ham, Bristol City, Brentford, Stevenage, Oldham, Cheltenham, Morecambe, Harrogate, the list goes on and on, and that’s excluding the teams that had needless tweaks to their existing designs like AFC Wimbledon and Huddersfield.

We must not dwell on this too long, but we would be devastated if the timeless, iconic crest of Norwich City would suffer the same fate. As such, we hope that the decision to simplify it for this third shirt was entirely on Erreà’s shoulders and in service to the design, rather a conscious decision by the club itself to carefully test the waters and see how fans would react to carrying a different emblem on their chests. Time will tell – and Joma’ training range is perhaps a step in the wrong direction – but our fingers are firmly crossed for common sense to prevail.

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If you hate people moaning about betting sponsors, please skip this slab of text and move to the next photograph.

But if you, too, detest the fact that a reprehensible business like Dafabet continues to deface what should be a sacred garment, then you’re at the right address on this site. We hate gambling sponsors, we loathe them, and to continue to see dubious betting businesses from foreign shores take up position on football shirts in England boils our blood as much as it did back when LeoVegas was revealed as Norwich City’s new partner in 2017.

Foreign shores, you say? Yes, LeoVegas is a Norwegian company but operates out of gambing tax haven Malta (we actually had a look around their office in Sliema when we were on the island for our Travel Special). Dafabet are based in the Philippines. That Aston Villa shirt we mentioned earlier? Sponsored by W88, which we couldn’t even discern the origin of because they operate under a barely legal whitelabel deal with an English shell company. MansionBet, who sponsored Crystal Palace, Bournemouth, and Bristol City? Again, no clue because they operate out of a small office in Gibraltar. The list goes on and on, with names like ManBetX, Royal Panda, Fun88, and Southampton’s LD Sport who never even launched a site for the UK market! And all those names are in addition to household British born-and-bred names like 32RED (also based in Gibraltar, for no real reason we’re sure), Football Index (RIP users’ ‘investments’), BetVictor (also in Gibraltar), BetSid (at Blackpool), and of course SkyBet, who sponsor the actual Football League.

Gambling destroys the lives of not just individuals but of entire families through the predatory financial nature of this line of business, and it doesn’t matter whether this comes about through betting on sports, casino games, gacha apps, or other such avenues of profit for the men in the shadows that continue to perpetuate human suffering for their own bottom line. The fact that the EFL caved to and reaped money from Sky is one thing, and we can grumble all day long but eventually live with the fact that other clubs also give in, but to see Norwich City assist in the continued proliferation of gambling, year in year out, was painful at best and unforgivable at worst. It’s the reason why we relied on the aftermarket to get shirts from the Academy which used Langley School and Lotus as a sponsor rather than LeoVegas, and why up until this month we never bought from the official online store. We only caved now because the academy never used the third kits and because Erreà being replaced with Joma is a massive downgrade in the kit department.

Anyway, to finish off this section; the sooner a blanket ban of gambling ads is pushed through in sport, the better. We don’t care if that means the club has to take a paycut and stamp the logo of a mustard company or a window-setting business on the shirts; anything is better than seeing names like LeoVegas and Dafabet continue to associate with a club that should, morally, be above supporting the gambling industry.

Thankfully, following a massive debacle involving scantily clad women and a Cambodian betting firm, the senior leadership at Carrow Road finally caved and opted to instead display Norfolk born-and-bred supercar firm Lotus on the 2021/2022 shirts. For the time being, the sacred yellow and green shirts are safe from being defaced by predatory gambling firms.

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You’re still here? The toxic diatribe about gambling didn’t put you off? Good, because we’ve plenty more to show you starting with the sides of this shirt.

If you yourself own a fair few Norwich shirts, have a rummage through the wardrobe and see if you own the 2016/2017 home shirt. You know the one, it has the Aviva Community Fund logo for a sponsor. This one. That shirt was the debut of a very fancy Erreà flourish; mesh running from the sleeve cuffs down the sides of the body to the bottom hem, which in the case of that old home shirt was coloured green to provide a delightful and unique contrast to the otherwise yellow shirt.

Norwich City, being Erreà’s flagship customer, were given the honour of debuting this style, which was then unceremoniously shipped off to other customers. In our article on the 2016/2017 shirt, we actually brought in the 2017/2018 MK Dons and 2018/2019 Blackpool shirts to compare, as both of them had the exact same style of mesh in their own colours. More teams up and down the leagues used it as well, with Carlisle being a notable example, and for 2020/2021 the mesh returns to Norfolk as it was added to the away and third kits. This time it is cut in a different shape to taper towards the centre of the shirt at the hem, and runs over a fuchsia/pink sidepanel to give a reddish sheen to the sides of the body.

However, we’re unconvinced on the notion that this makes the shirt better. We loved it in yellow on green five years ago, but for the 2020 design, we can’t help but wonder whether solid black would have been better given that there is already so much going on. The reddish colour also doesn’t look particularly attractive, much less so than it did on the other three shirts we own that employ the mesh.

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And so it is highly likely that we bid a fond farewell to our friends at Erreà. We know many fans didn’t enjoy their designs and the quality of their products, but we have not once been able to find fault in the latter regard. They did admittedly flunk a handful of designs, but then that is to be expected when you partner up for ten full years – a record they share with previous suppliers Xara, who also kitted out the club for a full decade from 2001 to 2011.

A supporters’ survey sent out during the 2020/2021 season hinted at a change of supplier ahead of the scheduled end date of 2024 listed in the contract with Erreà, and the godawful Spanish bargain bin brand Joma ended up coming in to replace the Italian marque – something we don’t quite understand as Joma have a terrible track record both in teamwear and bespoke shirts. It is quite disappointing to see their stylized ‘J’ on the chest of shirts from 2021 onwards, although at the very least Norwich City are still be guaranteed unique shirts, which is more than you could say of a partnership with Nike, adidas, or Puma. The first home strip they revealed also didn’t prove to be quite as bad as we feared it would be.

We nonetheless stand by Erreà as being our favourite brand – their linking up with the Canaries being a match made in heaven – and with the 2020/2021 season having proven to have been their last year, we can still be able to enjoy the absolute bangers they put out over the past decade. The promotion-winning kits of 2014/2015 and 2019/2020 are highlights, while the relegation-bound 2013/2014 and 2015/2016 shirts were also quite well memorable. The only truly awful design for us was 2017/2018 with the truncated tribute to Admiral, while 2011/2012, 2012/2013, and 2020/2021 weren’t bad but just a tad boring for our tastes.

Erreà is known to be minimalistic with its own branding, so the double block logo only makes an apearance on the chest and inside the V-neck collar, which pleasingly enough continues the fuchsia, pink, and purple of the front of the shirt. The appearance of green and yellow neck tape with the club’s name in it is helpful, as it proves how badly the club’s original colours clash with the hues chosen for this third kit.

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Articles on this site tend to run on and on and on to the tune of 3000 plus words, and it looks like Erreà wanted to prevent another endless monologue by making sure there is absolutely nothing of note on the back of the shirt. They sadly failed in their efforts, because checking the wordcount reveals us to blown past 3600 words. No initials in the neck, no miniature canary, no ‘Yellows’ like in 2016, no continuation of colours from the front as we saw Coventry handily do recently, just a whole lot of black. And sponsors Badu Sports.

And that sponsor is something we need to talk about. Not Badu themselves, as they are a perfectly fine business offering training to teachers and coaches, but the actual sponsor sticker. You don’t get it for free with your shirt; if you want it placed on the reverse, Norwich City (its retail branch specifically) charges you two quid for the honour. Yes, you pay for a sponsor to be added.

Which is mind-boggling. The practice is not too rare in continental Europe where some clubs (notably in Scandinavia and the alpine countries) have upwards of a dozens sponsors and thus have a legitimate reason for charging a few extra bob, but an increasing number of clubs in the United Kingdom have now also taken to this practice. This is a rather concerning development as football shirts command hefty pricetags even without being nickel and dimed over league patches and name and number printing. To now see actual sponsors being left off as well – held hostage as it were – is honestly disappointing, and at the risk of committing the logical fallacy of the infamous slippery slope, one can wonder how far football clubs can and will take it. In previous years, clubs simply wouldn’t even offer the opportunity to have a back sponsor printed – with this distinction being reserved for matchworn shirts – so actually being offered a choice now is an improvement.

Thinking about it, we’d pay not to have Dafabet on the shirt, so there’s that. The curious case of Badu remains unexplained though; the business themselves would obviously prefer to be on all shirts for maximum exposure, and their deal with Norwich was inked early enough in the off-season for the name to be applied to replica kits.

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We opened this article by mentioning how superfluous a Norwich City third shirt can be, and that opinion is backed up by how little use these fuchsia shirts saw during the 2020/2021 season. In a league contested by 24 teams where the only other side that could provide a colour clash was Watford with their eye-catching starburst shirt, Norwich City could have reasonably coasted by on just the home shirt for 45 out of 46 matches. But because the existence of the away and third kit must be justified, both were trotted out on a number of occasions where they really weren’t needed even when accounting for colourblind fans watching via television.

The unpopular and unsuccesful Petrol kit got a fair few outings, but the third kit was left in the hamper until December 2nd 2020 when a trip to Kenilworth Road to face (and lose to) Luton Town was on the cards. Its second outing didn’t come until February 17th 2021 when the Canaries travelled to Saint Andrews to take on exiled Coventry City. And for a third chance at seeing the shirt in action, fans had to wait until April 24th – after the Canaries had clinched promotion – when the first team donned the third kit in their visit to Loftus Road to square off with QPR.

There was no fourth outing, and with both the FA Cup and Carabao Cup campaigns having been swiftly cut short, opportunities were limited regardless. Three matches of use is a poor score, but then Aston Villa’s third shirt only got four matches in 2019/2020 and we even once featured a shirt that didn’t get a single appearance at all; even when you’ve got dozens of fixtures to choose from in a season, the home and away shirt simply take precedence. And funnily enough, the home shirt could have easily been used against Coventry and QPR, while the away shirt was fit for purpose against Luton and Coventry. We assume the club’s front office realized it would look bad to sell a third kit that never got used, so simply picked a few matches and called it a day.

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And with that, one of the best ever third shirts in Norwich’ history has gone out on a whimper. Yes, it was a part of the title-winning season and was worn in two of the wins that propelled Norwich to a points haul of 97 (the third match, against Luton Town, was lost 3 to 1).

Nonetheless, we expect these shirts to become incredibly sought after in the future in quite the same manner that saw the white egg ‘n cress of 2016/2017 and the yellow/green/gold rugby shirt of 2015/2016 become immensely popular. That, as mentioned, is why we broke our duck in terms of buying from the club’s store despite the continued presence of a betting sponsor. However, with the dark clouds of a Joma partnership now hanging over Carrow Road, it may well be the last time for another few years. Or we could just buy all of the Joma shirts and review them. Actually, that’s exactly what we are going to do!

Despite all those misgivings, Dafabet being on the chest, the crest being altered, the disappointing back and the whole Badu thing, we still can’t help but enjoy this shirt. It really is a belter when seen in the flesh (from the front) and just so idiosyncratic when compared with the rest of Norwich City’s kit history. It’s a little piece of art, a bold if underappreciated statement of intent – ‘we are Norwich, we are the HMS P*ss The League even when wearing pink and fuchsia’ and, unfortunately, the last terrific kit Norwich fan will get out of Erreà.

But at least we’ll be in the Premier League for a year!

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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