Goodbye, O Unloved Away Kit

We are not unique in this, but regular readers will know that I complain frequently about not being able to read numbers on the backs of shirts. The numbers are too thin, they’re too small, the colour scheme is all wrong, is that a 6 or an 8 (what do you mean, it’s a 10?), the floodlights are too dark, the goal was scored by someone in the far corner I just don’t have a chance, why isn’t the number on a patch, etc., etc. The usual bad colour scheme is the one often used by, for example, Tooting and Mitcham United or Maidenhead United – black and white stripes with a red number (stripes, and, come to think about it, hoops can be challenging in the number recognition stakes). The number is very hard to discern and I used to dread being on the microphone for those home games; once Barton Rovers’ under 18s turned up with yellow numbers on a very slightly different yellow shaded shirt, as it was an FA Youth Cup First Round tie I decided to do the microphone and consequently had a ‘mare.

I think Kingstonian outdid them all last season. White numbers (with no darker outline whatsoever) on yellow shirts. And, with our enormous player turnover, it was impossible to work out who was who during certain away games. It would have been easier to identify Celtic players during those heady days when they were allowed to not have numbers on their shirts. Every away game I visited, whenever we scored, the microphone man of the host club would be immediately be on to us asking about the goalscorer. That didn’t happen very often, but that was for team quality reasons, not font quality.

And so, with my fantastic record of not seeing us win away for ages, I realised on Saturday morning that I had not actually seen us win in this kit. All the more reason to despise it. With my banning order having gone missing in the post, I went to South Park for our last pre-season game. With our hosts wearing predominantly red, it was the turn of the yellow peril once again. And, after 86 seconds, we celebrated Louie scoring our opening goal only to have found out that we recognised the number incorrectly and found out it was Kenny Beaney. This reminded me of the mistakes I made on more than one occasion (Mark Murphy never lets me forget!) when I managed to get Tommy Kavanagh and Ryan Moss mixed up – there was actually no proper excuse to be made then; and poor Kane Haysman I got wrong three times in our season at Leatherhead, twice playing for us and once for Margate…

Surprisingly, things got better on the field, though my powers of observation were still failing me as I was too busy yakking to someone to notice that Reece Hall had scored. Louie’s goal, forcing a defender off the ball, looming at the goalkeeper and passing the ball beyond him, was probably my favourite of the pre-season. Three goals up at half time, the South Park comeback was awaited.

Rosey and I decided to break the habit of a lifetime and decided to watch the second half behind the goal that we were attacking. The reason was solely because we were both in desperate need of sitting down; there isn’t quite the space at South Park’s ground to have a small stand down one of the sidelines, so they have two either side of the goal behind one end. I really don’t like standing (or sitting) behind the goal, it’s all very well and good when the team that attacks your end is doing precisely that, but it’s not so good when the action is down the other end. I think I got the dislike from the few times I went to Wembley Stadium (the old one) for Rugby League Challenge Cup Finals, the views there, thanks to the old cinder running track/speedway track/bloody great big gap between stands and pitch, were not, shall we say, optimal. So much so that to keep up with the action down the other end, I had my headphones on and was listening to either Radio Two or Five Live depending on what year the game took place. I would end up explaining to people what penalties were for, who had knocked on, who had tripped who, etc., etc. – it always used to amuse me with the laws of rugby league at the time, it used to be a straight red card offence to trip someone but you could sometimes get away with a telling off for punching the merry hell out of an opponent on the grounds that the referee was still trying to sort out the mass brawl at the end of the field…

Thankfully, most of the action was down our end. Jerry Puemo scored with a lovely header, the hosts got one back from someone who was too far away to identify, Tom Kavanagh then smashed the crossbar with a penalty (the ball is still just visible using the Hubble telescope), and finally Dan Thompson got his own lovely header as we ran away with a 5-1 victory. At last, I have seen K’s win away. At last, I have seen K’s win wearing the yellow peril kit. How did I celebrate? By mumbling something akin to it not counting until it’s a competitive game, then going into a minor state of shock, finished by some beef in black bean sauce, complete with a couple of spring rolls (although they were both large enough to be autumn rolls, possibly).

This season’s away kit will be yellow and blue again, but I am assured that it will have either dark blue or black numbers. One less thing to moan about, which frankly is a blow. Pre-season is over, the proper stuff is here. Bring on those Cray Wanderers!

Farewell, O yellow shirts with quasi-invisible white numbers, I will miss thee.

Oh, hang on, no I won’t.

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