Our ‘Ever Wonder’ series will run throughout the 2022-23 Premier League season and focuses on key stories behind the history, tradition and culture of all 20 Premier League clubs.
Have you ever sat there and wondered why certain chants became iconic at a club? Why a team has a certain nickname? Why they play in those colors? How they were founded? Yep, us too.
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This season we will be digging deep to tell the stories of the rich history, tradition and culture from around the Premier League and give you the answers to things you want to know more about.
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Ever Wonder why Arsenal wear red shirts?
The reason Arsenal wear red shirts will shock you and it is down to another Premier League club who were promoted back to the top-flight in 2022.
Let’s go back to the start. Picture this: a Scottish man David Danskin worked with several other Scots at the Arsenal Armament Factory in Woolwich, South London. He decided to set up a football club in October 1886 for recreational purposes.
15 men paid six shillings (just over a dollar) each to join and the club was named Dial Square after the clock above the entrance to the factory.
A helping hand from the banks of the River Trent…
What next? They literally had nothing. Nowhere to play, no ball and no kit. However, Danskin did pay three shillings out of his own pocket to buy a ball. So they were on their way…
But what about the kit? It was all thanks to factory workers who had arrived from Nottingham and had played for Nottingham Forest.
Fred Beardsley was one of the former Forest players who had brought their old kit along with them and he asked his contacts at Forest if they could help Dial Square with a few more shirts.
Forest said, ‘no problem!’ and sent a full set of shirts (and even another ball). That shade of red sort of looked like blackcurrant and to keep costs down Dial Square kept the shirts the same color and they were away.
Here is more info from Arsenal on the shirts: “This original kit was a dark red, with long sleeves, a collar and three buttons down the front. The shirt was worn with white knee length shorts and heavy woollen socks with blue and white hoops. The goalkeeper wore the same attire apart from the shirt – which was a hand knitted cream woollen polo neck jumper. It was this dark red kit that the team wore during their first season at Highbury in 1913/14.”
How the color evolved
Arsenal played in that dark red color until their legendary boss Herbert Chapman decided to change the colors to a brighter red shirt with white sleeves in the 1920s.
Nobody knows exactly why Chapman did that but some tales say it was because he saw someone at the stadium wearing a red sweater over a white shirt, while another says he played golf with famous cartoonist Tom Webster who wore those colors.
Fun fact: the reason Sparta Prague wear this shade of red to this day is because their president, Dr Petric, visited London in 1906 and loved the shirts of a team which was then called Woolwich Arsenal (Arsenal today) so much that he told Sparta to change their colors. And they did.
Even though the shade has changed slightly over the years, the reason Arsenal wear red is because some of their first-ever players called in a favor from Nottingham Forest over 1890s. Remarkable.