Blast from the Past: West Ham’s Greatest Football Shirts

After the recent announcement of the 21/22 home kit, discussing the best West Ham football shirts has been spiked. We analyze some of the most iconic Hammers kits over the years and determine which will be titled ‘The Greatest.’

Season 1965-1966: A Bobby Moore Classic

1965: West Ham United captain Bobby Moore. (Photo by Don Morley/Allsport/Getty Images/Hulton Archive)

The 1965-66 season proved a pretty incredible one for West Ham United. Despite only finishing 12th in the domestic division, Hammers players Bobby Moore, Martin Peters, and Geoff Hurst secured themselves in England’s World Cup-winning team of 1966. The game saw England beat West Germany by 4 goals to 2, with Hurst scoring a hattrick, Peters grabbing a goal, and Moore wearing the captain’s armband.

This is perhaps one of the most iconic West Ham football shirts, with fans still purchasing and wearing, 56 years after its first release. Pre-sponsorship era, this home shirt is professional, clean-looking, and just honestly quite beautiful. It’s definitely fair to say that this shirt will forever be legendary with all its history.

Season 1999-2000: THAT Di Canio Goal

11 Mar 2000: Paolo Di Canio of West Ham United. Mandatory Credit: Stu Forster /Allsport

The Millenium season in East London was relatively successful. A team comprised of a mixture of experienced and young players such as; Steve Potts, Rio Ferdinand, Ian Wright, and (of course) Paolo Di Canio finished the season in a plausible 9th place. The season before saw West Ham finish a record-high 5th position in the Premier League, leaving some disappointed at the 99/00 table position. However, this season wasn’t all disappointing. In August 2000, Harry Redknapp’s men lifted the second European trophy in the club’s history in this season – the UEFA Intertoto Cup. The Hammers joined Juventus and Montpellier in winning the trophy, allowing them to progress into the UEFA Cup.

Coincidently, this is the very football shirt that inspired the brand new 21/22 kit. The promotion has been based entirely around that goal Di Canio scored against Wimbledon. With a claret body, blue detailing on the sleeves, highlighted by white piping – this football shirt is a favorite of West Ham fans.

Season 1986-1987: The Boys of ’86

April 1986: West Ham’s Frank McAvennie and Tony Cottee. (Photo by Simon Bruty/Allsport/Getty Images)

BIRMINGHAM, UNITED KINGDOM – AUGUST 17 1985: West Ham striker Tony Cottee.  (Photo by Mike King/Allsport/Getty Images)

The 1986-87 season will forever strike West Ham as the ‘greatest ever season.’ A team consisting of Frank McAvennie, Tony Cottee, Alan Devonshire, and George Parris defied the odds to finish the campaign at an incredible 3rd place. Some may feel even this was unlucky, as, on the final Saturday of the season, the Hammers were one of three teams with a chance to win the league (the others being Liverpool and Everton, Liverpool coming out on top).

A home-and-away shirt with the same design but inverted colors is hard to come by these days. The trademark Adidas stripes in blue against the claret body give the shirt a casual yet sporty edge, thus still being a shirt worn by fans today.  The pinstripe is a feature that is rare on a West Ham football shirt, last being seen on the 2014-15 Adidas home kit (which, in fact, was inspired by this very kit).

Season 2019-2020: The COVID Season

DECEMBER 26, 2019: Declan Rice of West Ham United. (Photo by Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images)

The 2019-2020 season proved pretty dismal for West Ham. A 16th place finish and a third-round elimination of the EFL Cup by League One’s Oxford United and two (hardly impressive) managers. On 13th March 2020, after a surging number of COVID-19 cases amongst Premier League players and staff, the season was suspended. When the season resumed on the 19th of June 2020, the Hammers lost at home to Wolves, 2-0. By some miracle, David Moyes kept us up that season and fully deserved the contract extension that followed.

Despite a poor season in East London, these football shirts are one of my all-time favorites. On a personal note, it was the first time since I was 11 years old that I had bought both home and away shirts – I just loved them. I also loved the campaign in which they promoted these shirts – the picture of Sir Trevor, Nobes, and Dec puts our ‘Academy of Football’ quality into perspective.

I would crown the Boys of ’86 kit as ‘The Greatest’ football shirt West Ham has produced from the few highlighted above. They just don’t make kits like that anymore! What Hammers shirt is your favorite? Which have I missed? Let me know, @_miaclaydon on Twitter!