Black and Old: 90-91 Home Shirt

After covering a rather recent kit in our previous article, it is high time we cast our eye way back to the early 90’s here on Black & Old; to the 1990/1991 season, to be specific, when the Dream Team was plying its trade in the old Second Division.

Back in those days, the Second Division was the basement tier of Scottish Professional football, what with the Third Division (what we now call the Ladbrokes League 2) not being introduced until 1994. Although the league was contested by 14 rather than just 10 teams back then, it was a simpler age for sure; no promotion play-offs with the top 2 (Stirling and Montrose that year) earning automatic promotion and no relegation play-offs for the bottom placed team (Arbroath that season, four points adrift from 13th placed East Stirlingshire).

Much like how the league structure was a bit less complicated, so too were the kit standards of the time; sleeve patches as you see them on shirts nowadays had yet to be implemented and clubs were free to pick their own fonts for the name and numbers on the back. Manufacturing standards were quite different too, as seen on the ‘90/’91 shirt as modelled by striker Aaron Murrell here; rather than being embroidered like on the modern shirts, the club’s crest was painted onto the fabric! Apart from easily coming off after a good few trips to the laundromat, this also meant that only the bear and tree of the Berwick coat of arms could be displayed on the shirt, along with the club’s name. Most interestingly, replica shirts of the time also lacked the sponsor patches that were worn by the first team; because of this, few shirts with that year’s sponsors NGSG (Newcastle General Shipping) survive to this day.

The team’s supplier that year was Spall, who in total enjoyed six seasons of partnering Berwick Rangers (’87 through ’94, interrupted by one season wherein the black and gold was supplied by Umbro). One needn’t feel embarrassed if the name Spall doesn’t ring any bells, as this sportswear firm went bankrupt during the 1995/1996 season despite having held many high-profile contracts in its heyday, including with the likes of Blackburn Rovers, Burnley, Millwall, and Wolverhampton Wanderers. Although the company has since been ‘rebooted’, it has yet to make its return to League football as a supplier.

Despite vanishing from the scene, the shirts Spall supplied our club with remain fondly remembered, as is the case with this particular top, which is a simple take on the usual stripes with a thick, distinct collar. It was worn by men such as player/manager Ralph Callachan, Willie Garner, Kevin Todd, Jimmy Thomson, and Bobby Smith as the team romped to 8th place in the league, following memorable victories over East Stirlingshire (4-0), Albion Rovers (3-0), and promotion winners Montrose, in addition to a couple of hard-fought draws versus champions Stirling Albion.

Willie Garner sporting the 90-91 strip.