Leeds United came into being in the year 1920 when its predecessor, the Leeds City Association Football Club wounded up following the allegations of financial irregularity during the Great War. Since then, Leeds United has been the cynosure of the eyes for numerous fans has continued to make them proud through its many achievements. Even though a number of clubs had the allegation of paying guest players during the war years, only Leeds City was unfortunate enough to have actions taken against it. Leeds United began its journey on the very day the assets of the former club were being sold off. It took over the reserve fixtures of the Leeds City club in the midland league and got included in the Division Two the same year. This was particularly because most other clubs felt guilty regarding Leeds City getting punished for the act they had all committed.
Thus, clubs voted overwhelmingly in the favor of including Leeds United in Division Two. J Hilton Crowther, the chairman of its local rival the Huddersfield’s club proposed to amalgamate the two clubs into a single entity. However, the fans and board members of the Huddersfield’s side bought him out and enabled him to take over the new side. He immediately used Huddersfield’s blue and white stripes to model the new club’s shirts. This made it a rare instance when both rival wore the same colors. However, the club continued carrying on some of the traditional motifs and colors associated with the city of Leeds. Leeds United’s predecessor used many of those such as the distinctive three owls, which was the city’s crest as its badge. Leeds Untied continued with the owl in its jersey for quite a long time. Leeds United inherited that heritage and has carried it one with pride and dignity ever since then.
The Huddersfield’s model of blue and white striped shirts remained the color Leeds United for the first decade and half after its founding. Hilton Crowther partnered manager Arthur Fairclough to help Leeds United find its footing in the Division Two competition during this very period. The players of this side wore a combination of the striped shirts with the white shorts and dark blue socks, which had blue and white rings on its turnovers. It was during this period that Leeds United won the Second division in 1924 and spent three years in the First Division. However, they suffered a relegation to the Division Two in 1931.
The team ditched its blue and white striped shirt in favor of the combination of blue and gold in 1934. The Leeds United shirt that year was a blue and gold halved shirt with the city’s crest as its badge. Leeds United shared this color with the erstwhile Leeds City club just as they shared the nickname of ‘The Peacocks’. The team continued with this combination of color till 1961 when they dropped it in favor of the color resembling the most successful club team in the world at that time. The teams crest had taken the owls from the arms of the city’s first alderman while the three stars were from the coat of arms of its first mayor. It also included fleece to signify the importance of wool to the region’s economy.
Leeds United lost the very first they played with this color combination by a margin of three goals to nil to Liverpool. The team had bounced back almost immediately after their relegation to the Second Division in 1931, and continued to perform with mediocre results till they dropped out of the First Division again just after the end of the Second World War. Major Frank Buckley, the new manager at Leeds United in the spring of 1948 decided that the color combination of the club’s color combination. He tried to convince others to this point of view by organizing a match to demonstrate the importance of altering the color combination of the team’s shirt if they were to bounce back into the First Division. The match featuring two teams with one of them in the club colors and the other in plain shirts convinced the club chairman and director to invest in a new stripe.
Leeds United decided to switch back to the old gold shirts that had blue sleeves and collars, along with white shorts, and stocking having black, blue, and gold hoops. The team changed the color of the shorts from white to black in August 1950 on grounds of better visibility. However, this change was short-lived with major alterations coming in the team shirt at the start of the 1955/56 season. The new kit had strong resemblance with the original one worn by the Leeds City team. The Leeds United shirt was in royal blue with gold collars, along with white shorts, and stocking having blue and gold hoops. The change turned out to be lucky since they made their way to the top division at the end of that season and continued there for the next four years.
The beginning of the sixties saw the gradual disappearance of the heavy playing kits and boots, with the continental influences becoming strong. This was evident in the popularity of several features such as V-necks, short sleeves, and streamlined shorts. Therefore, the team kit at the beginning of the 1960 had started changing from the earlier crew necks to the V-necks, and included stockings that were extremely lightweight. Moreover, the clubs started opting for simplified designs to help their players stand out because of the far less effective floodlights during the night games. The combination of the colors of the most successful team at that time and the prevalent trend lead to a dramatic alteration in the color combination in Leeds United’s team kit.
The new manager, who took over at Leeds United in the spring of 1961, sprang a huge surprise by opting for a drastic and dramatic color change. The start of the 1961/62 season saw the team kit comprising of plain white throughout. In fact, the team continued with the pristine strips for a decade and a half until 1976, which saw the gradual returning of the blue and gold colored trimmings. For that period, the only alterations were in the form of subtle modifications in badge, logo, and collars of team kit. The team introduced a perching owl taken from the city crest onto a new badge along with a white background and dark blue border. This was done despite the superstitions and misgivings associated with such birds. The team preferred blue shirts, which they coupled with gold shorts and socks while playing away matches to continental teams in Europe having the same choice of color for their team kit.
The team settled on the all yellow kit and also decided to ditch the owl badge in favor of the logo of LUFC instead of LUAFC, which had the A missing in it for the Association of Football Club. The team also tried the numbered stocking for some time, especially when they were winning against sides like Manchester United and Southampton, as well as, its sole FA Cup triumph. However, it did not prove lucky enough to prevent losses in the following season such as losing in finals of both FA Cup and Cup Winners Cup, as well as, finishing third in the league.
Leeds United affected a number of modifications into its team kit from the mid seventies till the early eighties such as blue and gold trims on collars, sleeves, cuffs, and a couple of variants to the Smiley badge. The club went back to Umbro as the kit manufacturer in 1981, and introduced a new badge having a stylized peacock in reverence to its original nickname. However, a new badge came out in 1984, with the Rose and Ball badge incorporating the traditional colors of blue, gold, and white, as well as, the rose of Yorkshire with the club name, that lasted until 1998. This made it the longest-lived badge for the club in the modern era.
The Leeds United team kit went through a number of modifications all through the nineties and the first decade of the new century. The team joined forces with Admiral Sportswear starting from the year 1992, which unfortunately did not last for more than a year. However, the changes in the kit such as a new V-neck look, and changed strips, which proved to be lucky for the club as they went on to capture the Charity Shield. The fallout with Admiral and a new deal with Asics saw the introduction of blue and gold hoops across the chest, as well as, blue collar and cuffs. However, potential color clashes saw the introduction of blue and green striped shirts in early 1994. That season was also the first time for the shirts to have squad numbering and players’ names on them.
The Leeds United shirt has gone through a sea of transformation through a nearly century of its existence. The rise in its fortune in the late nineties and the early 2000s saw a number of experimentation with its color and design, with powder blue color dominating the shirt for some time. However, yellow was available as a sort of sop to the more traditionalists. The somber all-yellow affair was watched by football enthusiasts all over Europe when the side made it to the last four stage of the UEFA Champions’ League at the turn of the century. The change in the badge with the introduction of the shield badge in 1998 brought a European feel to it, with a ball added to the centre rose a year later. The styling and design of the Leeds United shirt continues to evolve, strives to take the brand across the globe. The shirt has always managed to make the supporters of Leeds United feel proud and hopes to do so in the future.