My first memory of football is the 1990 World Cup – I had attended one FAI Cup game, between Cork City and Shamrock Rovers, early that year but can’t recall any of it. The World Cup really captured the imagination in Ireland as the country had never qualified before and the penalty shootout win against Romania is the standout moment. Commentator George Hamilton described it perfectly before David O’Leary’s winning penalty when he said, “The nation holds its breath”. Luckily, my sixth birthday was in July of 1990 and my grandmother got me this shirt.
I can still recall the smell of the material and the feeling that I was like a real player when I put it on. Mick McCarthy was my favourite player at the time, because he was captain, and there was a factory in Cork making adidas gear under licence, so I was able to get a number 4 printed on the back in the three-stripe style like Ireland had at the time.
From the same vintage as my first shirt, the Cork City home from 1989 until 1991. I didn’t own one at the time but in recent years I purchased a mint version and am wearing it as I type, before heading to the Premier Division title decider between Dundalk and City on October 24.
In the same style as the West Germany shirt worn when they won the World Cup in 1990, it was a perfect fusion of all of the details which make a great shirt and it’s a pity, in my view, that City now have a predominantly green home kit. This style was so popular that the mail-order sellers who advertised in Shoot! at the time featured it prominently and it was also used by a member of The Beautiful South in their video for The Prettiest Eyes. Honourable mentions for Arsenal's home and away shirts during the 70s but they were before my time.
For a long time, it was Tony Adams’ goal against Everton in 1998, Martin Tyler said, “That sums it all up,” and it did.
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