Over the past week we have seen the drip-drop of images slowly revealing a new away shirt for the next two seasons. From the sneak peaks it looks a very smart kit with a hint of retro to it, although the choice of white as the predominant colour may be slightly too similar to our sky blue home kit. What this reveal means though is that we are to see the back of one of the club’s best loved away kits for a long while now, the ‘Brazil kit’.
With so many fond memories of some famous Coventry away wins, from the thrashing of Doncaster two years ago to Chris Maguire’s glorious free-kicks. It has felt like there was something special in those fibres which elevated the team’s performance levels. This piece is a statistical look at past Coventry City kits, home and away, to see whether the ‘Brazil kit’ really improved the team’s performances.
2012-14 Away Kit – Games Played: 25, Wins: 13, Draws: 3, Losses: 9. Win Percentage: 52%
It’s hard to ignore those statistics, a 52% winning percentage is astounding, especially given our away form in the seasons prior to the introduction of this kit. What was most interesting about researching our record in this kit was how our form seemed to improve once we started to play in the kit more often. Prior to defeating Hartlepool United 5-1 in November, we had only once played in this kit, afterwards we began adopting it in away games that didn’t necessitate wearing an away kit. This was a much loved kit from its very inception where it drew inevitable comparisons with Brazil. At the time it felt like the kit would be anachronistic to the team playing in it, however for whatever reason, the team raised its game when it played in this kit, perhaps proving there’s a science to kit design.
2013-Present Home Kit – Games Played: 33, Wins: 12, Draws: 8, Losses: 13. Win Percentage: 36%
This dark blue and sky blue striped number endured a fiasco with its release. With the club starting last season in administration, the kit was not played in until the beginning of October and was actually leaked by a Sky Bet promotional poster rather than officially by the club. Nevertheless when the team actually was allowed to play in the new home kit the form improved. Last October saw the team unbeaten with impressive wins over Sheffield United and Leyton Orient as well as a famous point at Molineux all secured in our new stripes. However the form couldn’t be maintained over the course of the season with the team eventually losing more games than it won in this shirt. To add insult to our poor form in the second half of the season, the kit was nominated by the excellent Football League blog ‘The Two Unfortunates’ as one of the worst in the country this season. On closer inspection, the Turquoise-y shade of sky blue, the white collar trim and the strange webbing towards the top give the kit an awkward look to it.
2012-13 Home Kit – Games Played: 52, Wins: 20, Draws: 19, Losses: 19. Win Percentage: 38%
The kit that we have played in the most over the past 4 seasons was this simple sky blue ensemble from Puma. Not a spectacular kit but one that will be worn for a few more years by fans due to its simplicity, this is more or less what a Coventry City home kit should resemble. As far as our record goes in this shirt, it’s fairly decent. There were some brilliant moments in it such as Leon Clarke’s late winner in the JPT against Preston, but there was also the 3-0 thrashing we took from Crewe in the Northern Area final 1st leg to balance it out. Whilst our home form during the 2012-13 season was similar to when we were relegated from the Championship in the previous season, this kit manages to keep a decent overall record, in part down to its deployment in various away matches and at the beginning of last season.
2011-12 Home Kit – Games Played: 41, Wins: 9, Draws: 12, Losses: 20. Win Percentage: 22%
A kit that was released to celebrate 50 years since we changed our colours to Sky Blue, coincided with an abject relegation season from the Championship. Whilst we had to wear a kit in this season, I always feel as if somehow this one had a small impact on our performances. When it was revealed, the retro touch seemed to give it a classy feel to it, however the longer you looked at it, the more uninspiring it appealed to you. The large areas of Sky Blue on the shirt which made to the team seem as if they were fading in to the background and the awful O-neck made it a shirt that was quickly left at the bottom of Coventry fans’ draws at the end of the 2011/12 season.
1987 Memorial Shirt – Games Played: 2, Wins: 0, Draws: 0, Losses: 2. Win Percentage: 0%
A shirt that we played in just twice, against Southampton and Tottenham in the third round of the FA Cup in 2012 and 2013 respectively. This kit enjoys a perfect record of defeats for its short life-span. There was a sense of dark irony around the release of this shirt, in its first game fans didn’t enter the ground until the 15th minute in protest against SISU’s under-investment in the club. In its second it highlighted the terminal decline suffered by the club as we met our 1987 Cup Final opponents Spurs as a mere shadow of the club that we once were. The kit, in a way, disproves the idea that design can in some way improve a team’s performance. Despite it being one of the few Coventry shirts that many fans will hold on to as something of a collectors item, it in no way had a positive effect on performances, we might as well had turned up in our training tops. However given that the sample size is severely limited in this instance, perhaps I should disregard it. It was still a cool looking kit regardless of the team that played in it.
2010-12 Away Kit – Games Played: 15, Wins: 3, Draws: 4, Losses: 8. Win Percentage: 20%
Despite lasting two seasons, this green and black kit never seemed to be too well loved by Coventry fans. In the 15 games we played in this outfit we won only 3 times, in part a testament to Andy Thorn’s woeful away record as Coventry manager. This shirt perhaps suffered a similar problem to the 2011/12 home kit in that the green colour made it harder for the team to pick each other out on the football field. I’m sure though that players such as Gary Deegan and James McPake would probably have struggled to pass to each other even in luminescent shirts, but it could have had a factor on performances. As another commendation for the ‘Brazil kit’ it’s interesting that we played 10 times less in this shirt than in its successor.
2010-11 Home Kit – Games Played: 35, Wins: 12, Draws: 8, Losses: 15. Win Percentage: 34%
The last kit that I researched for this piece, information prior to this is difficult to ascertain, this home kit endured the honour of cladding Aidy Boothroyd’s Coventry City side. In fairness to the current England under-20 manager, the outfit enjoyed a great start with the team excelling in the first half of that season. However as 2011 began, the team’s form deteriorated as injuries and a lack of tactical flexibility from Boothroyd almost saw the team relegated from the Championship. Another kit that goes into the easy to forget category, plain white blue with white horizontal pinstripes and a strange collar. It is one of those kits where little care had seemed to have gone into its design. It’s faded away from memory as much as it allowed the team to do in front of an increasingly empty Ricoh Arena for that frustrating 2010/11 season.
As the statistical evidence shows, the ‘Brazil kit’ that we’ve deployed in away games over the past two seasons is by far the most successful kit that we’ve had for recent years. My theory is that the brighter colours allowed players to pick each other out more easily on the pitch. Also though you have to take into account that over the past two seasons, we have been relatively better than our opponents than in the two seasons that preceded it. As far as our home shirts go, it’s interesting that despite the change in divisions, our record in Sky Blue has been very similar at around a 35% win percentage.
Looking ahead to our new away kit, it may be of regret to the club that we haven’t gone for another brighter kit in an attempt to continue on from the success of our previous away kit. However at the moment my set of data to analyse the impact of the kits is small and the conclusions that I have drawn have most likely been causal. What the new kit does provide is something more tangible to look forward to for the coming season rather than potential signings, or indeed player departures.