My Favourite Shirt - Part Seventeen
Part Seventeen of My Favourite Shirt has Dominic O'Malley of Kitkingdom answering questions about his 1994/95-1995/96 Manchester United Home Shirt as well as other questions about life supporting The Red Devils.
Dominic's favourite United shirt with SCHOLES 22 printed on the back
Why is this your favourite shirt? As with any meaningful item, it’s the overwhelming assault on the senses that makes it stand out. It has its own historic scent that you only get with old shirts, it could be bottled and sold and it’d only appeal to a very specific demographic. The actual feel of it was probably once some kind of cutting edge technology, yet now you wouldn’t wanna risk wrapping a mangy dog in it, but you still love it anyway. Visually, for me it’s a classic image regardless, but it’s the nostalgic impact of actually transporting me to another century altogether, on top of its design, that makes it my all-time favourite shirt.
Are there any happy or bad memories that come back to you when you see or think about this shirt? A bit of both! As I’d turned eleven in the 1994/95 season, I was entering secondary school and had all the generalised fears most kids have on that cusp of adolescence, but they were pacified by making new friends, inevitably from having a common point of reference to the team that I followed and the shirt that I loved.
On the pitch, I remember that first season having a massive hold over my emotions. I remember the high expectations of Andy Cole and the five he bagged against Ipswich, but the low ebb of Cantona having his infamous moment with a Palace fan and from thereon-in, the season kinda spiralled. A final day league loss was quickly followed by defeat to Everton in the FA Cup Final and I cried, a lot.
In the build up to the 1995/96 season, we got rid of fan favourites and experienced older heads and set about a new era with a youthful guile that would prove all its doubters wrong. A league and FA Cup double made up for the previous year’s tears and I wore my shirt with a touch more pomp when parading it around local playing fields.
Who was the best player to wear this shirt? For me personally, it’d always be Roy Keane. His maniacal levels of intent were like witnessing an unhinged super villain go about a day’s work. Proper Marmite player and all that, which I thought was brilliant. Mental, but brilliant. After an ageing Bryan Robson’s legend was confirmed, Keane had his chance to shine and really stamp his authority on the team. I remember him stamping some of that authority on Gareth Southgate and getting his first red card in this shirt as well.
And the worst? William Prunier and that number 31 shirt. The convenient French scapegoat who was brought in on a trial basis during an injury crisis and thrown in at the deep end. Played 2 games, hitting the bar and assisting in the first and taking all the flack for a 4-1 drubbing at the hands of Spurs in the second. I generally felt and still do feel sorry for him.
Serious question here. Did you turn the collar up like Eric Cantona did for this shirt? Haha, I actually remember trying it with the previous season’s kit and it all feeling a bit unnatural, like socks and sandals it was all a bit too continental for me and I stuck firmly to the collar down approach from then.
How do you rate the shirts of today compared to years gone by? As with most aspects of design, I think we’ve come full circle and a lot of current kits are not only informed by previous offerings, but they’re being replicated and modernised in some instances. We’re once again engaging in the bold and striking elements of kit design and frankly I love it.
The depiction of Old Trafford within the fabric of my favourite shirt has always been the part of its design that has fascinated me most. Chelsea and Everton have hinted at their stadiums in their latest shirts, but they’ll never quite top the Theatre of Dreams. The actual materials used are different in today’s shirts too, they might well be better suited for elite level athletes, but I’ll take my chest hairs standing on end and the static crack you get from an old shirt over the new ones any day of the week!
Tell us more about Kitkingdom? How are things going with it? My foundation stems from simply being an enthusiast and from that I’ve built great links, networked with some brilliantly talented people, bought and sold shirts, received invaluable feedback on my own kit design, been educated on many an occasion and most of all enjoyed every bit of it. Whilst Kitkingdom is still in its relative infancy, I’m glad I’m involved in such an active, intelligent, honest, supportive, diverse and witty community. Moving forward, I would love to get more followers, increase sales, add to my own personal collection, produce better designs with marketable ambitions and collaborate on content with other enthusiasts. I’d welcome any feedback too as I pride myself on being as accessible as possible.
Why do you support United? Living in and around North Manchester, it was something that had just happened that organically, I don’t remember when it was. I suppose it’s kinda like I had no choice, which makes my current relationship with the club something akin to Helsinki Syndrome. I do however, distinctly remember a younger cousin one day deciding that he was going to support Liverpool for no apparent reason whatsoever and him becoming somewhat of a leper within the family, so for that at least, I’m glad I’ve always supported United.
What was the first United game you went to and what was the score? I was snuck into the Theatre of Dreams as a belated present just after my 8th birthday in 1991, a European 2nd leg tie at home to Atlético Madrid. It finished 1-1 and we were knocked out with no hope of defending the previous year’s triumph. It was an uphill task having lost the first leg 3-0 at Vicente Calderon and I don’t recall being upset, but I remember the atmosphere like being nothing else I’d ever known. The school assembly was the most populated event I’d been to previously and the near 40,000 inside Old Trafford that night was just mental in comparison. I remember being told by some old pissed bloke that I shared the same birthday as Denis Irwin, and that always stuck with me, weirdly.
How did United do in the season that’s just finished and what are your hopes for next season? It went like this – Mourinho, Pogba, Derby, Liverpool, Mourinho, Solskjær, WWWWetc, PSG, Wolves, Barca, Huddersfield, Europa. The less time I think about it the better. I don’t have delusions about what our previous accolades entitle us to now, but I just hope to see some more consistency on the pitch and less marketing from Ed and the boys. Slightly embarrassed that we’ll be turning out in a kit that largely commemorates a competition we’re not in, but I like it nonetheless and who knows, if it brings about a new era it might well be someone else’s favourite shirt in years to come.
Your best United 1-11 in your time supporting the club?
2: G. Neville
31: Prunier (Just kidding, 15: Vidić)
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Interested in telling the world about your favourite shirt? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and you will be sent the questions and asked to upload an image of you wearing or holding the shirt in your reply. You don't have that shirt? Not to worry! A pictutre of the shirt will suffice.