Admiral: 50 Years of the Replica Shirt now on display

In the 1973-74 season, pioneering sportswear brand Admiral changed the British football landscape forever with the introduction and sale of the first ever replica shirt. The move sparked an explosion in football design, manufacturing and culture from the early 1970s through to the present day, a journey that in 2024 has been chronicled in a commemorative, coffee table-style book.

To coincide with the book launch, Admiral and the National Football Museum are showcasing some of the iconic stories from five decades of design and football history in a new exhibition, which runs in Manchester across the summer.

The exhibition takes newly commissioned photography alongside archive video and images, and original design sketches. It will allow those of all ages to understand more about the history, journey and meaning of the football shirt and Admiral’s remarkable role in it.

Rob MacDonald & Adam Bushby (Halcyon Publishing) said: “We’re thrilled to have worked with our friends at Glory and a brand like Admiral on this book and delighted to see some classic stories realised in such a great exhibition. To be able to mark such a massive piece of football history and most importantly fan culture in such a spectacular way is something we’re very proud of.”

Lee Nash (Glory Studio) said: “Admiral are a cult brand – the England ’82 shirt is still worn with pride on Euro and World Cup terraces today, so it’s an absolute privilege to help celebrate the huge impact the brand has had in pioneering the replica shirt market.

“From the early Leeds shirt to the stunning William Morris-inspired Walthamstow kit, Admiral keep reinventing themselves – it’s been so exciting to document it and it’s amazing to see these stories and images all in one place.”

Theo Hamburger (Head of Marketing, Admiral Sportswear) said: “With over 110 years of proud history it is a great honour to be able to collaborate with the National Football Museum, the heart of football storytelling in the UK.

“Many of the most important football shirts since Admiral invented the replica football kit market 50 years ago will be discussed in this exhibition exploring design and development. These pieces are important parts of both football tradition, culture and design.”

Tim Desmond, CEO of National Football Museum, said: “We’re delighted to be collaborating with Admiral on this new exhibition, that will celebrate its creativity as designers of iconic football shirts and the impact it has had on the replica shirt market.

“At the National Football Museum, we are dedicated to shining a spotlight on some of the untold stories of football and giving recognition to those that have made the beautiful game what it is today, making the Admiral exhibition a natural fit for the museum as part of our Football Matters message.”