The Kit Room 1980-1989

1980/81

Manufacturer – Umbro

Again very slight changes were made to the home kit with the socks changing permanently from red to white, however it felt like it was getting better and better with each tiny adjustment, and this masterpiece recently won the twitter poll for Saints greatest ever home strip.

Jimmy Bone in 1980. A pivotal signing for the club by Alex Ferguson in early 1978, the robust forward scored 35 times in 174 matches, but every player benefited from his experience in the team. Bone won the 1980 Anglo Scottish Cup as a player and was assistant manager when Saints brought home the 1987 Scottish Cup. Jimmy took over as Saints boss in 1992, but despite a wealth of young talent available was unable to gain promotion back to the Premier League and resigned in 1996 amid controversy, following the sacking of fellow club legend and assistant manager Kenny McDowall.

1981 – 1983

Manufacturer – Adidas

In the first year of the all too short-lived Adidas contract, a new monochrome badge was incorporated into the left hand black stripe, just one of two on the home shirt. With black shorts paired with white, red or black socks, all branded with the world famous Adidas logo, the strip is now considered a classic. The away strip was a red shirt with white shorts, while the goalkeeper had a distinctive blue or yellow with black kit.

Billy Thomson sporting the fine goalkeeper shirt from the first Adidas kit. Thomson is regarded as one of Saints finest ever keepers and played almost 300 matches for the club before being transferred to Dundee United at his own request in 1984. Billy is Saints joint most capped Scottish player along with Iain Munro.

1983/84

Manufacturer – Adidas

Shirt Sponsor – Graham’s Buses

The kits were altered slightly for this campaign as the club agreed a shirt sponsor for the very first time, with Graham’s Buses, a local bus operator becoming the inaugural company on the Saints shirt, and a blow was struck for traditionalists. Saints have not appeared in any domestic match without a sponsor since.

Ian Scanlon in 1983. The winger was the supposed Aberdeen makeweight in the Peter Weir transfer from Saints in 1981, but many consider the sometimes unpredictable Scanlon a better player for the club. Capable of extraordinary flashes of skill on either foot, he scored 40 times for Saints in 140 matches, an outstanding return for any winger in the top flight. This included a 50 yard volley against Celtic in 1983 when he inspired Saints to a 4-2 win after being 2-0 down. Sadly, Ian was forced to retire in 1985 following an injury in a European tie with Slavia Prague.
A distinctive Graham’s Bus at Paisley Cross in 1986. The Hawkhead based company were the first ever shirt sponsors of the club between 1984 and 1987. Sadly, they ceased trading in 1990 after almost 70 years on the roads of Paisley & Renfrewshire.

1984 – 1987

Manufacturer – Adidas

Shirt Sponsor – Graham’s Buses

After having the minimum and thickest style of stripes possible in their first home shirt, Adidas went in completely the opposite direction by opting for very thin pin stripes with silver shadow in between every second one. Black shorts and socks accompanied this and a new all red away shirt produced.

In the 1985 UEFA cup first round match against Slavia Prague in the old Czechoslovakia, Saints were forced into a late strip change, meaning they wore an unbranded blue and white pinstripe shirt, with Saints black shorts and socks. Other than newspaper reports, there is scant pictorial evidence of this and the match was not recorded for TV, but this oddity paved the way for a number of blue strips in the next decades.

For the 1987 Scottish Cup Final, Saints sponsorship with Graham’s Buses had ended with the final match of the league campaign the week before, and the club signed a two year deal with rival bus company Clydeside Scottish whose name was on the shirt, when the team played in all white.

1987 Scottish Cup final winning captain Billy Abercromby in 1986. The Saints legend played nearly 400 times for the club over 13 seasons, and despite being a real midfield warrior was an extremely underrated player who remains as popular as ever today with fans old enough to remember him.
Frank McAvennie in the all red Adidas kit in 1985, a few months before his transfer to West Ham United. An outstanding talent picked up from Johnstone juniors, McAvennie is considered by many to be the finest Saints player of the last 50 years, and went on to become one of the best attackers in England following his move, and also played at the 1986 World Cup finals for Scotland.

Frank McGarvey against Slavia Prague in 1985 with the unbranded blue shirt, seen to the right.

1987 – 1989

Manufacturer – Matchwinner

Shirt Sponsor – Clydeside Scottish

With optimism as high as possible following the Scottish Cup win, Saints had changed kit supplier from world leader Adidas to little known Bolton based company Matchwinner. In the days long before kit releases, Saints opening fixture the following season was a home friendly against Southampton and this was the first opportunity for the fans to see the team since the Cup Final, and of course the new strip.

The team however ran out of the tunnel at Love Street to the utter bewilderment of the crowd, wearing the infamous ‘Bib’ strip, and the confusion soon turned to laughter. Although thicker than pinstripes, the new home shirt had multiple stripes, with the ones on the shoulders at a different angle to the main ones.

Taking around half the front of the jersey though was a white panel which went from lower chest to neck, hence the ‘bib’ nickname. The badge, manufactures logo and sponsor were all printed directly onto the white bib area, which in truth wasn’t a bad idea at all. Shorts were usually white, but black was also used on occasion.

The red away strip was a similar design, with the black and white stripes replaced with all red and a black stripe down each chest. The keepers strip was spared a bib though.

Through the years the infamous ‘bib’ has been looked upon more affectionately by some than the initial reaction, and is now something of a cult classic. The one thing that is certain is the fact it was a striking kit, if not pleasant on the eye.

Action from St Mirren v Southampton on 1st August 1987, the infamous first ever viewing of the bib strip
A 1988 Ferguslie Park bus on Bridge Street in Paisley. The second company to sponsor Saints were based in Gordon Street Paisley during a tumultuous time for Scottish Buses after privatisation. They would eventually rejoin Western Scottish and then be bought over by Arriva.
A routemaster bus leaves the Gordon Street HQ of Clydeside Scottish in 1989 Paisley.

1989-1991

Manufacturer – Matchwinner

Shirt Sponsor – Kelvin Homes

See the 1990-1999 section for this by clicking on the next button below.

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