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BOWLER’S DELIVERY: First aid kit

10 May 2016

Ever seen “The Fisher King”?

For those of you familiar with the popular beat combo Led Zeppelin – yes, I know Robert Plant is an unbeliever but John Bonham sponsored an Albion game once, God rest him – you’ll recall the live version of “Stairway To Heaven”, in which Plant, exasperated by the carnage of the 1970s, adds the lyric, “Does anyone remember laughter?”

 

You can’t help but feel the same way when you get to launch a new kit these days and watch the world of social media go into meltdown.

 

Don’t you think it’s a little unkind the way that the Albion have been taken to task for showing off next term’s kit for the first time courtesy of an impressive dance troupe in Birmingham’s Grand Central?

 

You’d think that the world might actually praise us for our devout missionary work, for taking a glimpse of the Premier League into the deprived Second City for whom it is but an aspiration, for showing them a better world that might one day be theirs.

 

But no. Instead we are attacked by all and sundry for not setting up a catwalk and having Kate Upton and Chanel Iman – yes, I know, I googled “supermodels” to find the names – strutting around in the stripes.

 

First off, we couldn’t afford it – nor could anybody else – but second, it wouldn’t be so much, y’know, fun. Does anyone remember fun?

 

The girls in the dance troupe had a great time and were brilliant. They stopped a station full of people dead in their tracks. Possibly the trains too, but take that up with Network Rail. We got the chance to poke a bit of fun at Blues and Villa by invading Birmingham – and don’t worry, their time will come again and then we really will have our sense of humour tested.

 

All it is, is trying to lighten the mood, to add to the sum of human happiness. It’s a football kit that we’re launching, we’re not trying to cure cancer – I wish we were, I wouldn’t be an orphan.

 

As one far too old, I’m struggling to get the hang of just why a kit launch is such a thing. When I started working here in 2000, you couldn’t move for consumer journalists banging the door down and demanding that all shirts should have at least a two season cycle. Nowadays, you get the impression that there are plenty who wouldn’t mind us launching us one every season – that’s spring, summer, autumn, winter, not 2016/17.

 

And another thing, the back. It’s white. It’s the only way we could hope to get some people to tell the difference between Dawson and McAuley. No, I’m lying.

 

It’s not as if we haven’t done similar things before - 2005/06 and 2009/10 for instance – but the choice wasn’t ours in any case. It was part of a Premier League directive that names and numbers must be clearer on all shirts for 2016/17. To comply - and to book an early slot in the adidas manufacturing cycle - we had to offer up a plain back to the shirt, only to find, once it was too late, that the Premier League had moved the requirement back to 2017/18. Bummer.

 

In the finish, it’s a nice shirt and, guess what? Because we got in early with adidas, you can buy it before you go on holiday, before this season’s even over.

 

You can always find good news if you dig deep enough.


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