Norwich City 2021/2022 Home Shirt

‘End of an era’? More like ‘end of an Erreà’ , if you pardon the horrible pun. Norwich City’s long term link-up with their Italian apparel partners is no more after a raft of fantastic (and not so great) home shirts were worn at Carrow Road over the past decade, but as always there is a new supplier in town. And it’s…. Joma. On the face of it, one of the worst brands you can end up with when you’re a big football team. But then on the 10th of July 2021, the club and their new Spanish friends took the covers off the 2021/2022 home shirt which, again, on the face of it, looked pretty decent. Join us, as we take an in-depth look at the latest yellow and green number from the Canaries;

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Thanks to a recent change of address we don’t have our usual patch of grass available to review this shirt on, but rest assured that we are working to find one and will update the pictures in this article accordingly.

But who cares about grass when you have something as exciting as a brand new release, right? We don’t do these too often (notable exceptions being Geylang International shirts) so to be able to offer a review this quickly after release is quite the occasion for us. And truth be told, on first impressions, this isn’t a bad shirt to do it with. Erreà did experiment a little bit with the tone of yellow and green used in their shirts and Joma is no different in that they seem to have opted for ever-so-slightly different hues compared to previous years, but this shirt is very much still identifiable as belonging to Norwich City. That colour combination just doesn’t come by often in world football, does it?

Before we dive in to check out the nitty-gritty, we’d like to remind you that we’ve penned a whole raft of articles on older Norwich City shirts which we are keen for you to check out. So, if you feel like looking back at a bit of history before proceeding, do give any of the following links a click;

And with that out of the way, let’s see what Joma have cooked up for us.

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The brief for Norwich shirts is relatively straightforward; mostly yellow with a dollop of green, and this assignment thankfully didn’t prove too difficult for the Spaniards. On the contrary in fact, there is a nice balance between the dominant yellow on the torso and the green accents on the sleeves and collar and down the sides of the body. Even with the usual diagonal shot across the chest of a shirt that we place in our articles, you can still see the green creep out around the periphery. Being naturally darker than Norwich’ trusted yellow, it also helps to really ground the shirt as darker colours tend to look best around the edges of a given design.

Colour considerations aside, one big new feature this year is the addition of a ‘jacquard’ fabric, which means as much as having those little lozenges you can see above woven into the shirt. These serve to expel heat and perspiration, but they add a nice bit of texture to the shirt as well. In fact, it’s a lot nicer than the very weird embossed pinstripes that Erreà added to the 2020/2021 home kit, which we really weren’t fans of. We may just prefer this new shirt over its immediate predecessor; that should come as quite a surprise, given how critical we have been of Joma in the past.

We have also been very, very, VERY critical of the club’s decision to carry gambling sponsorship for no fewer than four years in previous articles (mostly in this piece on the 2017/2018 kit) so when the infamous BK8 deal imploded days after having been revealed to the world this summer, we were over the moon. Even more so when Lotus Cars, a born-and-bred Norfolk brand was confirmed as main sponsor going forward. The famous circular logo appears on a senior Norwich City home shirt for the very first time in 2021, and it is a feat worth celebrating indeed. But we will get to the specifics shortly.

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Long-rumoured to be the new technical partner in Norfolk following a leaked fan survey that mentioned a change was coming, Joma was the name on everyone’s lips over the uneasy spring and summer of 2021 as the Fine City grappled with the continuing COVID-19 pandemic whilst also celebrating the Canaries’ impressive title win in the 2020/2021 Championship. On July 1st, our fears were confirmed via an official press release; that darned stylized ‘J’ would appear on the shirts as the club and Joma inked a ‘record-breaking’ deal of undetermined length.

It’s a shame that a firm end date hasn’t been given, but then that would be mostly pointless anyway. The Erreà deal was slated to run until June 30th 2023 after all, but here we are with a new supplier two full seasons ahead of schedule. Joma’s offer was apparently so good that the board were happy to take the financial hit they would incur from the annulment of their existing partnership. History repeated itself, really, as the same had happened with Xara who had their deal ripped up for Erreà in 2011. At this point we wouldn’t be surprised if the same had happened to Alexandra PLC, Pony, and Mitre as well (Ribero breaks the chain, as they went bankrupt out of their own accord).

Despite this humble website having posted over 150 reviews, Joma have surprisingly only appeared three times before. Perhaps this is proof of our proclivity for avoiding their wares? Regardless, if you are curious to see what the Spaniards designed for other clubs, check out the following articles;

The Rijeka shirt best exemplifies what we consider Joma’s greatest faults; needlessly complicated designs, substandard materials, and a decided lack of flair that truly great brands like Erreà and hummel tend to effortlessly provide. However, Norwich does retain one of the benefits from the deal they had with Erreà despite switching to Joma; the Canaries are by far the biggest English customer of both brands and as such command attention and respect – this translates to bespoke shirts without exception, which is always a good thing. Erreà even ended up pawning off some of the design elements it created for Norwich to lower league clubs, in fact; Blackpool wore a carbon copy of an old Canaries kit a full year after it made its last appearance at Carrow Road. Real life canaries might not be top of the food chain, but in regards to shirts Norwich City are top dog with their apparel partners.

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Nevertheless, we must pay Joma a compliment here; the shirt, and the entire kit, does look quite good. They got both the hues and the amount of them just right, which is a tricky thing to do when you can very easily have way too little green (2020/2021 comes to mind) or way too much (2015/2016… you know, the halved kit).

Seen in action in the 5-0 friendly win over Gillingham on the third of August, the shirt is matched with green shorts and yellow socks as per usual. The shorts feature slanted yellow panels down their sides, which match up quite well with the longer specimens down the sides of the shirt.

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And what about those sleeves, eh? It’s unbelievable that it took this long, but finally a designer managed to include a canary-motif on a shirt; the yellow lines that run across the green, tapering off towards the cuffs, are said to mirror the wings of a canary, and putting them next to the bird on the crest does drive that point home. It’s just a shame that part of the wing design on each sleeve had to be broken open, as it were, to include that nasty ‘J’ again – rubberized in a slightly more flexible way that it was on the front of the shirt. You could have hated Erreà with a passion, but at least the Italians never hamfisted their double squared logo into a design like this (putting aside the obvious Admiral rip-off from 2017/2018 where that was the entire point of the shoulder trim, of course).

As Norwich City are now back in the Premier League following a year-long absence, the concept of a sleeve sponsor also returns. This could have ended in disaster given the somewhat suspect examples we see elsewhere in the league, but thankfully we have JD’s simple white on black logo here instead. Sure, it’s eye-catching and doesn’t match the club’s home colours, but it’s also very simple and inoffensive. Both as a business (no gambling) and as a design! We don’t need to remind you of Best Fiends’ appearance on the 2019/2020 shirts, do we?

One thing to note is that the cuffs here do seem abnormally long for a football shirt – those are the green folds, with a smaller yellow ribbon of fabric overlapping. Just Joma doing Joma things, we guess.

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JD as a sponsor might be so-so, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a better sponsor than Lotus Cars for a Norwich shirt. A Norfolk company through and through, founded and based in nearby Hethel by Anthony Colin Bruce Chapman. Friends called him Colin, but giving his full name is relevant given that the Lotus logo holds his full set of initials alongside the wordmark.

Besides its Norfolk identity – preserved despite having passed into Malaysian and, currently, Chinese hands – one can find another match between Lotus and Norwich City in their colours; the car marque’s first logo (which isn’t too dissimilar from the modern iteration) was already done up in yellow and green in 1948 and has remained draped in that combination for pretty much its entire history. British racing green matched with a yellow central stripe is a common livery for Lotus’ cars, and one that we are particularly fond of. Should the main sponsorship continue for years to come still, it would be incredible to see an away kit in the vein of the John Player Special livery (black and a khaki-like shade of gold) that dressed many of Chapman’s most succesful Formula 1 cars. Joma, get on it right now!

Actually, on that note, give us a British Racing Green away kit with yellow stripe down the chest right now. Don’t even wait until next season, bin the bloody black/blue and salmon alternative kits and get it done. Now. Now now now now now!

Before we continue this tantrum off-site, please be aware that Lotus was already in place as sponsor of the club’s academy – matchworn youth shirts from 19/20 and 20/21 with their logo applied instead of Dafabet are incredibly sought after – and had previously sponsored the senior team’s away kits during the first half of the 00’s when Proton owned the Hethel business. It was Proton’s logo which adorned the home shirts of that era, hence why Lotus’ appearance on the 2021/2022 home shirts really is the first of its kind.

And to think we very nearly missed out on it too; Norwich City had initially signed Cambodian betting firm BK8 to be its new shirt sponsor after tearing up the existing Dafabet contract (notice a pattern with the club and contracts?). However, once the kitschy spotlight-and-drone-flight-and-fast-car reveal had taken place, the Twitter mob discovered that some of the promotions that BK8 had been running in Asian countries featured partially nude models! The horror! Murder, arson, and jaywalking considering the balance between Asian standards in advertising, the fact that these models consented and were paid, and BK8 making a multi-million Pound business out of human suffering by getting punters addicted to gambling. Anyhow, despite having taken betting blood money for four years in a row by that point, the outrage over sideboob (there’s a word we never thought would make it onto the site) was the tipping point for the club. BK8 saw their contract torn up as well, and Norwich took a financial hit in signing the less lucrative Lotus deal.

Then again, to use a cliché, all’s well that ends well. The ends justify the means, to use another one. If Cambodian models were the crowbar that finally dislodged gambling interests from the sacred yellow and green rather than the actual dishonourable nature of the business, then so be it. Never sign a gambling firm ever again, please.

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That was it in terms of sponsorship outings on the shirt, just the two of them. You do get a rather bland jock tag on the lower left hand corner of the shirt, right by the green side stripe – handily showing how it tapers off diagonally towards the bottom hem, in keeping with the cut of the shirt. While we have an incredibly high opinion of the denizens of Norwich and Norfolk – heck, we live there ourselves! – Joma may be overestimating how many polyglots are among the populace considering they felt the need to include the term ‘ORIGINAL PRODUCT’ in both English and Spanish. To be fair, being able to translate ‘PRODUCTO ORIGINAL’ back into English is about as impressive as being able to read a Taco Bell menu.

That is to say, not very much so.

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It’s 2021, so any football shirt worth its salt will have to include some buzzwords to show off just how pleasant the club that wears it is. We’ll let the marketing blurb do the talking here;

Woven into the collar of the shirt are the club’s six values – growth, integrity, belonging, resilience, pride and commitment.

Very cool. Watford did the same last season, in a slightly more dramatic fashion.

The collar itself is quite a pleasant affair as well, very modern in its shaping and construction with a separate nape panel sown onto the shoulder panels and the back. The single yellow stripe running around it is a subtle touch but provides just the right amount of contrast and detail – we appreciate its inclusion. Should you be planning on buying one of these shirts – or have already bitten the bullet that is the 50 Pound(!!!) pricetag – then do please be aware that the sizing and washing information on the side of the collar is very prone to washing off after running the laundry a few times. This is by no means an issue exclusive to Joma – most brands present sizing information this way – but it is a shame that, even in the current year, we still have no solution that is more elegant than this cheap printing or an uncomfortable old-fashioned tag.

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Here at Club 25, we do not claim to be entirely prescient but we do have an awful lot of premonitions that end up being bang on the money. In the article on last season’s third kit – written and published before the black/blue and salmon alternative kits were revealed – we mentioned that the alteration and re-colouring of the crest seemed like an experiment was being run with a view to determine whether the club could get away with rendering its classic emblem in different colours. Where many clubs have already done this time and again before, 2020/2021 was really the first time for Norwich to dip its toes into the water in this regard.

Lo and behold, this year’s black and blue away kit ended up being the very first Norwich City kit to present the Canary+Ball+Castle design in a colour that is not green and yellow. Then, much to our horror and dismay, the salmon third kit took it a step further by…. well, by matching this timeless classic look to perhaps one of the worst colours you could use for a football shirt.

We’ve pulled all three for a quick side-by-side, just so you have a decent idea of what the 2021/2022 range looks like. Again, while Erreà received a fair few complaints regarding the way in which they stitched the crest onto the chest of their shirts, we can’t imagine Joma won’t get similar complaints. It’s a fairly standard, middle-of-the-road method that they have used here, but the crests do seem to have warped just a tad. This is especially visible on the black and blue, where the upper right corner of the badge is visibly pulling outwards. Similarly, the upper left corner of the salmon crest seems to be pulling upwards a little. Considering Joma expects you to pay fifty quid for each of the shirts, we think it’s fair to expect perfection in return. And we’re not getting that. Yup, it’s a modern football shirt alright!

Now, at the risk of jinxing the matter, we really hope this swapping of colours isn’t another proverbial canary in the coal mine – a very apt figure of speech to use in this case, no? We are massive fans of the classic Norwich crest, and ideally, we would lock it into place and stipulate that it may never, ever be replaced. Ever. However, given the unexplainable urge to rebrand that so many clubs have felt recently, we aren’t entirely sure whether our dear crest will avoid the cruel fate of being replaced by some postmodern abomination somewhere in the near future. Recolouring is already pushing it, as far as we are concerned.

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To neatly wrap up this article and wind matters down following 2700 words of needless detail, we’ll take a quick glance at the back of the shirt. The canary wings thankfully pull through from the front, but the torso is disappointingly bare. No club initials, no motto, no nickname, no sponsor, no tiny graphic or anything, nothing! Again, for fifty quid, surely Joma could have afforded to do something with this blank canvas? Watford had a tiny little hornet stickered in the nape of the neck last year, surely something similar should have happened here with a canary?

It also needs to be said that the fabric Joma uses seems to be even thinner and lighter than that previously employed by the departing supplier; you can very clearly see the front of the collar and the crest through the back of the shirt. What this spells for durability remains to be seen, but as per always, we recommend being as careful as possible when washing your football shirts. Hand wash, ideally.

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Our Editor-in-chief sometimes dreams of Todd Cantwell leaving the club. He promptly awakes, bathing in sweat and screaming at the top of his lungs. Upon calming down and then swiftly remembering that Todd’s contract is due to end soon, he continues his screams until the crack of dawn.

Hyperbole aside, we are big fans of the Dereham Deco and would hope to see him stay with his boyhood club for a few years more still. Number 14 is reserved for Mr. Cantwell, that much is certain – now if only he would reserve some ink for a fresh contract. Besides literally rubbing elbows with Adam Idah here, Todd also handily shows off the squad number font and colour that has been tentatively matched with the shirt. And by tentatively we mean almost certainly, as the Premier League doesn’t exactly have a wide range available. Black and white looks to be the styling, which is not horribly offensive but would be an inferior choice to a nice shade of green for player names and numbers. In a move that might trigger some unease, the numbers of the shorts look to be white. Bit of a mismatch there.

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As always, a shirt’s lasting appeal is to some degree down to how succesful the season was in which it was worn. As such, expect this one to be promptly forgotten because we do not see Norwich City finishing anywhere but 20th place. Again. Losing three times and drawing once to the other teams that were promoted in 2020/2021 whilst still in the Championship paints a grim picture, as does a 3-0 loss in a recent friendly to Newcastle United. And that’s okay, we back the boys no matter the level and no matter the result. We just don’t see much reason for optimism.

But then there is a great deal of joy to be found in being surprised. And this first crack of Joma’s at a Norwich home shirt was very much a surprise. After all, considering it is Joma we are talking here, we expected an absolute disaster. Yet, we got a pleasantly good design, albeit one that is aided greatly by the presence of Lotus – we can’t overstate our joy at seeing it on the chest here, and would have been unfairly critical had another gambling firm taken up the spot. Good thing that the BK8 deal fell through then, although for the wrong reasons; instead of kicking off about their line of business, fans were mostly incensed about some of their Asian market materials and how these did not fit in with Western standards. The erosion of the British public’s tolerance of gambling still has a long, long way to go.

But betting free Norwich City shirts? Those have finally arrived after four long, dark years. And as far as we are concerned, they are here to stay. Forever.

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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