York City Kit

Any one remember when City wore tangerine coloured shirts at Bootham Crescent or purple shirts at Wembley?

1922 - 1969

City’s original colours were maroon shirts and white shorts (or knickers as they were described at the time).

Note, in October 2020, City themselves stated the colour burgundy was worn between 1922 and 1937, however, looking back at comtemporary reports and programmes, maroon was always the stated colour, never burgundy.

Whilst now, maroon can be considered an unusual colour to wear, it was more popular in those days, possibly due to its royal connections.

Very quickly, City changed to maroon and white striped shirts. Socks were black with a couple of maroon bands at the time. Due to financial constraints, some City teams of the 1920s appeared wearing socks knitted by supporters’ wives.

City reverted to plain maroon shirts in 1929 and maintained them until 1933 (see Walsall photo immediately below).

Some reports state the chocolate and cream shirt was introduced for the 1932/3 season, but the Walsall photo suggests otherwise. The works of Paul Bowser might be considered to be the most authorative and he states "I have several cuttings from that (1932/3) season, and City played in plain maroon shirts - see the attached (photo above); the colours changed a year later (1933/4 season), and the programmes from 32/33 do not reference stripes in the team line-ups pages.

So, for the 1933/4 season, City played in a unique chocolate and cream striped shirt, in deference to the city’s confectionery association (although there was no real link between the businesses and the club, apart from the supporters).

In the early days, clubs chose kits to try to avoid colour clashes, probably one of the reasons for a much wider range of kit colours than nowadays. Although unique, the strip caused a number of colour clashes and requests from the referee for the home team to changes shirts at half time. Gloomy wintry afternoons, no floodlights, possibly heavy / muddy pitches and the washing technology of the time (see below) didn’t help. (Indeed, I recall a rugby league game in the 1980s between Hull and Batley when both teams changed at half time and when the new kit became muddy, Hull as the home side were requested to change again, they claimed they didn’t have a third kit so the referee had no option but to abandon the game, fortuitously preserving their unbeaten record for the season.

October 14, 1933 was one such occasion when City’s “traditional” chocolate / cream stripes clashed with their visitors, in this case, Halifax’s blue / white stripes in the fading light. With modern day language I would be hard pressed to say “traditional” for a kit worn for only a few months, but could just about accept that the solid blue shirts that City wore in the second half provided a contrast with Halifax’s striped blue / white shirts. City also changed into blue to avoid a clolour clash wioth Doncaster Rovers (1933) and a game against Rochdale.

In 1936, City changed to a “distinctive” red shirt. Red shirt, white shorts was to remain the first choice kit until 1966 and this is where "The Robins" nickname probably originated.

Sock design was to change frequently, but always included a combination of red, white and black. Contemporary reports stated the chocolate / cream shirts clashed too often with the opponents' kit.

When City played Middlesbrough at Bootham Crescent in the FA Cup in February 1938, to avoid a colour clash, City wore tangerines shirts and Boro played in white, cup regulations at the time meant both teams had to change shirts when there was a colour clash. Boro won the toss for first choice change kit.

Traditionally (like every other club), City did not have an official badge and so therefore no shirt badge. However, for 1950/1, for one season only, City’s shirts included the City Of York crest, presumably, as part of the Festival Of Britain celebrations, but otherwise, there was no crest or badge on the shirt until the late 1960s when they became commonplace. Generally, clubs did not sport badges, the only real exception being the FA Cup Final when teams wore their town / city badge (rather than a club badge).

In 1959, City forward Peter Wragg designed an emblem that incorporated a robin, white rose and the minster. The new badge was subsequently worn on club blazers and featured on a wooden shield that was displayed in the windscreen of the team coach for away games. In the days before commercialism, it was not seen on shirts or elsewhere, including the programme, club stationery or ground signage.

As City’s fortunes floundered, an all white kit (with red piping on cuff and collars) was introduced for the 1967/8 season. The shirt was tweaked in November 1968, during City’s second and final season in the all white kit. Newspaper cuttings from the Darlington game (30th November 1968) show the shirts featured a round emblem and lettering. The same was added to the away strip. The badge was replaced by an embroidered ‘YCFC’, the first shirt embellishment since the City Of York motif during the 1950/1 season.

1969 - 1990

With City’s fortunes continuing to flounder, City reverted to maroon shirts / white shorts in 1969. Some reports at the time blamed the high laundry bills arising from the need to maintain a pristine white coloured shirt was the underlying reason for the switch of kit.

In 1973, the shirt was embellished with a white stripe running down both sides starting underneath the armpits. It was around this time that the tradition of handing shirts down from first to reserve to youth sides first ceased, although much later, in the NLN days, with shirts no longer bearing players' names, the tradition was revived.

The late 60s and early 70s saw City's shirt feature the letters "YCFC" embroidered onto it, but it wasn't until the 1974/5 season that the shirt featured the club badge. Note, the intermediate side wore a shirt with a badge during the 1970/1 season.

A season later, 1974, as City celebrated promotion to the old, Division 2 (now The Championship), not for the first time (remember chocolate and cream), City’s kit was re-designed to provide a unique design with the “Y” front. City’s “Y” was added to the shirt.

The “Y-front” was designed by Peter Turpin, a former City junior, and was one of the many promotional ideas of Keith Hunt, City’s newly appointed and short lived first Commercial Manager. At the time, there was no advertising value (it was in the days before Yorkie bars) and didn’t incur the wrath of The BBC unlike Coventry’s shirt of a few years later featuring a design which had like the letter “T” incorporated into it, some said denoting Talbot and the city’s car building tradition.

After 2 seasons in the second tier, in 1976 relegation was marked with a new kit, the maroon and white on the shirt being reversed.

A change in kit supplier from Admiral to Umbro saw a new shirt introduced in Novemebr 1975, the small "CY" motif below the collar was removed. From 1976/7, for 5 seasons, Admiral supplied the kit and it included a much larger motif.

2 years later, 1978, City were applying for re-election after 2 successive relegation seasons. City went through an entire re-branding exercise and reverted to red shirts, this time with navy blue shorts, the first time blue had appeared as part of City’s regular first choice kit.

The biggest change during this era was the introduction of shirt sponsorship, first allowed by The Football Association in 1977. Kettering Town were the first club to wear a sponsor’s name on their shirt.

It should be noted that City’s club sponsor was Newitts and the team were pictured wearing shirts with their name on the front in various team photos from 1981 but they were never worn in a competitive game.

It wasn't until February 1984 that City wore a sponsored shirt in a game. Chosen for BBC Match Of The Day coverage in a Division 4 table topping game at Blackpool, City struck their first short sponsorship deal, it was with Cameron's Brewery who were closely associated with City for several years around the time. For the game, City wore "Hansa", a popular Cameron’s lager, on their light blue change shirt and then for the rest of the season. An extended deal with Camerons saw “Camerons” appear on the shirt from the start of the 1984/5 season. The logo was retained for the rest of the season before changing to "Camerons" for the 1984/5 season before reverting to "Hansa" for 4 seasons until 1990. The association ending, when Cameron's commercial director, formerly a long serving and prominent former amateur footballer with Rowntrees' (and City's reserve side) left the company.

The 1985 "Arsenal" shirt featured white sleeves and a white flash across the upper body.

1990 - To Date

Recent years have seen continual changes in kit design as shirts became a fashion item and money maker for clubs. Socks changed frequently and the shirt design changed even more frequently.

From his time working for City, James Richardson recalls a particular red Portakabin shirt, “I had nightmares about the square dot above the ‘I’. The standard font is square, but Portakabin changed it to a circle. Can’t remember exactly which kit it was, but we had hundreds delivered printed incorrectly and had a sticker placed (ironed on) over to correct it, which is why if you have one, the dot is too big. Anyway, to cut a long story short, the dot should be circular”.

For the 1990/1 season, City's shirt sponsor was Flamingo Land (nearly a decade before their owner launched a hostile takeover bid) and was followed by 6 years with Portakabin. The Yorkshire Evening Press, Phoenix Software and CLP all followed briefly. Legal firm Pryers enjoyed a 6 year association as shirt sponsor which ended with 2 wins at Wembley in 2012. 7 years with Benenden Health followed before Jason McGill’s JMP assumed shirt sponsorship in 2019. It is believed that the value of many of these shirt sponsorships annually amounted to around a small five figure sum.

In 1995, Admiral become city’s kit manufacturer. The deal was extended into a 6th season on 25th February 2000.

The 1993 shirt saw a "YC" logo introduced on one shoulder and the opposite short leg. The red / blue combination remained intact until 1997. In that year, City played in all red, albeit with blue and white pipping running down the shorts and shorts.

For the 1996/7 season, the red / blue colours were retained. The new 2nd kit was all white with blue socks (the previous blue / white clashed too often) and a 3rd kit was introduced, turquoise (or plain blue depending on your vision) / black stripes, black shorts and blue / black socks (a la Inter Milan), the first stripes since the chocolate / cream of the 30s. The millennium ended with a Hibs green shirt / white sleeves changed for 2 seasons between 1998 and 2000.

The John Batchelor era saw City revert to a "Y" front, this time in red (white "Y" and red shorts) as he sought to bond with City’s supporters. To link the club to Batchelor's motor racing ambitions, the shirt had one sleeve with a black and white chequered flag design at the shoulder.

The end of the Batchelor era saw a 3rd badge in 5 years. In 2003, the York City Supporters Trust introduced a "5 Lions" design, featuring the lions from the city's coat of arms and a big "Y" as a result of a Yorkshire Evening Press competition. This replaced Batchelor's garish "chequered flag" design, part of his unpopular "York City Soccer Club" re-branding. This itself had replaced the "2 Lions" crest (the lion's being either side of one of the city's bars).

In 2009, City wore a one off purple shirt for the FA Trophy at Wembley. Purple being the colour of the robes of the Archbishop Of York, the shirts were auctioned after the game with proceeds going to his youth charity.

In spring 2019, City announced a hugely popular one off maroon shirt (see above) for the last ever game at Bootham Crescent, due to be played in April 2019. Given the stadium move being delayed, the shirt was not worn as intended. However given its huge popularity, City kept the design for the 2019/20 season (see above), this time, red with a navy blue “Y”, the change kit being the colours reversed (albeit a white “Y”), another nod back to the 1970s change kit and a white shirt with "Y" as third choice.

For the 2019/20 end of season play offs, City were granted permission to wear the commenorative maroon Y shirt (white shorts and socks) in what was expected to be the last ever game at Bootham Crescent. Manufactured in 2019, it contained the sponsor's name "Benenden Health", they'd ended their sponsorship deal in summer 2019. City legend Graeme Crawford, spoke when the shirt was unveiled in early 2019, “Everyone used to like wearing this shirt and I think the design is now synonymous with York City Football Club. It was also a lucky shirt back in the seventies and, hopefully, it will be as lucky again. The new version puts a modern take on an old design and I really like it." Unfortunately, it wasn't lucky.


For the 2020/1 season, the home kit featured a red to navy gradient shirt, navy shorts and navy socks. The neck incorporated a "Y" design into the collar, a twist on City's iconic Y-front design.

The away kit was produced with a nod to the club’s heritage using traditional colours white and burgundy (First time I’ve seen it described as burgundy and not maroon – Ed), which were used from 1922-1937 and in the 1970s. The 3rd kit design will feature a sky blue to white design with white shorts and white socks.

Goalkeeper kits were green, yellow, and white designs respectively.

For the first time, the kit featured 3 sponsors’ names, main sponsor JM Packaging, back of shirt sponsor GoStore and new sleeve sponsor DWA Architects.

Details were announced on October 1st but given logistical difficulties, City kicked off the season in the previous season’s kit. The new kit made its bow in game 5 (October 17th v Brackley).


On 18th May 2021, City announced Puma as the club’s new official kit provider on a three year deal starting on 1stJune replacing Under Armour. For the 2021/2 season, JM Packaging will sponsor the front of shirt whilst York Gin will adorn the back of shirts, DWA Architects as sleeve sponsor and Go Store Self Storage as back of short sponsor. Sporting Director Dave Penney said, “We are delighted to secure sportswear giants Puma as our official kit provider for the next few years. The new kit designs have been finalised and we anticipate delivery before the start of pre-season for our full launch.” Martin Ivison, from Puma UK, commented, “Everyone at Puma is really excited and looking forward to starting our new partnership with York City FC, and it will be great to see the team run out on the pitch in Puma next season. York City is a Club which is clearly ambitious, and we’d like to think we are the lucky charm as proven with other Clubs who have been on the same journey to the EFL. We look forward to a long a successful partnership.” The designs mirrored recent years with one "off the peg" design and 2 "own design" shirts.

Best Ever City Kit

During the 2020 lockdown, City's twitter account ran a series of polls to determine City's best ever kit, the 74-76 kit came out the winner.


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  • For many years, in cup ties, the home team wore their change shirts if there was a clash, however, in earlier times, both teams would play in a change kit. In 1955, Blackpool wore white and City wore blue. In 1938, when City played Middlesbrough, both teams changed, City wore tangerine and Middlesbrough white.
  • For many years, City’s keeper, like all Football League keepers wore plain green jerseys whilst England’s international keeper wore yellow. In Scotland, this was reversed, yellow being worn in domestic games and green in internationals. Shorts and socks being the same as the outfield players. It remained like this until the 1970s.
  • Worst ever City kit? Many would say the 2016/7 change kit variously described as electric green and hi vis yellow.
  • As with bigger clubs, City sign a contract with a shirt manufacturer, so are tied in for the duration and terms of that contract, probably meaning the shirt style is reflective of the manufacturer of the time. It is understood that 2020/1 is the last season of City's contract with Under Armour.
  • For the record, Yorkie The Lion was City's first life size mascot, a result of a York Sixth Form College project and was replaced by Shippo in 1999. Sarah Pullon was the first volunteer and Steve Ovenden then spent many years inside the costume. Along the way, a few others have had a go.