My favorite team in La Liga has finally announced their new kit for the 2011/12 campaign. Like so many things about Athletic Club Bilbao, there is an interesting history to their home jersey. Legend has it that early in the 20th century a team representative was sent to London to buy jerseys, but he couldn’t find enough to match the team’s colors at the time (blue and white). Instead, the Bilbao rep bought red and white kits of the local Southampton FC team. Half of the kits purchased were sent to Atlético Madrid and the rest, as they say, is history. Today, both Spanish clubs wear the red and white home kit.
Until very recently Bilbao has resisted the soccer convention of corporate sponsorship on jerseys. In 2008, the Basque club finally accepted the shirt sponsorship of local oil company, Petronor. I love that this club remains so fiercely independent and faithful to the Basque region. They still exclusively recruit and cultivate their own players (many of them very good ones) with their Cantera program. Only Basque players can play for the squad and while Bilbao hasn’t topped La Liga in many, many years, they have never been relegated. Few La Liga clubs can say that!
On Friday, Athletic Club Bilbao announced their slick new home kits made by Umbro. They look good. Umbro has done away with the collar of last year’s home jersey and added a thin black strip along the arm sleeves. Umbro does good work and these jerseys are no exception, but I still like the new away kits much better. The new away kits for Athletic Club Bilbao feature the colors of the the Basque Country flag. Footballshirtculture.com has already written about the away kits here:
More photos of the new Athletic Bilbao home jerseys can be seen here:
My only problem with the home and away kits for this club is that they are very hard to find in the United States. Unlike the giants of La Liga, like Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, other teams don’t get widely distributed to the States. It’s also expensive to order these online because the shipping adds significantly to the cost. Luckily, this summer my wife and I were on vacation in Spain and I was able to pick up the (now) old kit in Bilbao. I’m wearing it today with pride and a slight touch of envy for the lucky folks who will get to wear their Athletic Club colors (new and old) and support the Lions at the hallowed grounds of San Mames Stadium in Bilbao.
zu zara nagusia!!!