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International Tops British

Graham Alexander – The Consummate Professional

The current Motherwell manager had an impressive football career, making his way up the English footballing pyramid as either a solid full back or holding midfielder, playing over 1000 career games for club and country. Those clubs being Scunthorpe, Luton, Preston and Burnley.

Alexander started his career with Scunthorpe’s youth team in 1988 before signing professional forms and playing 159 games with the senior team helping himself to 18 goals. He would move to Luton Town in 1995 where he would turn out for The Hatters 150 times scoring 15 goals in the process. By this time Alexander was beginning to earn a bit of a reputation for himself as a solid dependable player who could put his foot on the ball and pick a pass. He then earned a move to Preston North End in March 1999 where he would spend the next 8 years of his career [7 of those competing in the English Championship] Playing 352 games and hitting the net 52 times.

In 2007 Alexanders dedication and determination would be rewarded with a £200,000 move to a Burnley side pushing for promotion. Promotion to The Premier League was duly achieved and Alexander would enter the history books as the oldest player to make his Premier League debut, at the ripe old age of 37. Not only did he make his debut but was named as club captain and would make a further 32 league appearances that season, scoring 7 goals into the bargain. Alexander would leave Burnley in 2011 making 177 appearances and scoring 24 goals. He would head back to Preston for one last swansong appearing 18 times and scoring 2 goals. His last appearance was marked with a 90th minute trademark free-kick equaliser in a 2 all draw with League One Champions Charlton. It was actually his last touch of the ball as a professional. A fitting way to end your career.

There are many figures banded about the internet relating to Alexanders prowess from the penalty spot. Some websites say 72 scored from 77 but we’ll go with TransferMarket who have Alexander down as having converted 61 out of 65 penalties in his career which is a 93.8% conversion rate. That is a pretty impressive stat and should certainly be spoken about more often than it does.

On the 16th April 2011, in Burnley’s win over Swansea City in a Championship Match, Alexander would become only the second outfield player in English football history to have made 1,000 professional appearances

In 2002, Alexander would gain his first international call up at the age of 30. He would come off the bench at Pittodrie where Berti Vogts Scotland would lose 2-1 to Nigeria in a friendly. He would go on to make 40 international appearances. The highlights would be The famous wins over France Home and Away, a draw with Italy in 2005 and a draw with Croatia in 2008. Over the 40 appearances Alexander made for Scotland, he only gained one yellow card which he picked up in a 1-1 draw with New Zealand in 2003.

This jersey comes from Alexanders last Scotland Game which was a World Cup Qualifier played at Hampden Park against Macedonia on the 5th of September 2009. Scotland won 2 nil with goals coming from Scott Brown and James McFadden. Alexander played the full 90mins.

Steve Cotterill probably summed up Alexanders character and professionalism best when he said ” His boots were always spotless, he didn’t have an inch of fat on him and, if he spoke, players may have questioned him but they knew he was right. The only shame is that he is 38, he deserves to have played in The Premier League a lot longer “

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British Club Tops

Motherwell – PONY – 1997/98 Away

On a previous post, we spoke about the home jersey of the 97/98 campaign and the disappointing season that came with it but we had to make a separate post on this gem of a top.

The 90’s were a time of experimentation with tops and Motherwell were no exception to that, starting the decade off with Admiral’s great home and away jerseys which will always be remembered for a certain cup final, then moving forward to Hummel and the jerseys get more unusual with the 92′ white and claret tram track kit. Pony’s first few jerseys were normal enough with the candy stripe (which was remade in 15/16), their black 95/96 and white 96/97 away jerseys were solid additions as well but what even was this top.

We’ll start off with the elephant in the room, the colour. Probably the most un-Motherwell jersey to ever exist (some would say this seasons black away top). When you think of Motherwell you think claret and amber, if you are a fan you could even go as far as white or petrol blue but never neon yellow.

This was also the first and last season Motherwell featured player numbers on the front of the jersey. This obviously wasn’t as popular as once thought but I actually quite like the number on the front as it is so rare.

The top uses almost the exact same template as the white away jersey from the season previous which is mental considering that jersey is a solid 8/10 and this one I would probably rank a 3/10 as a Motherwell top. I’m not surprised Motherwell decided to move forward with XARA instead of sticking with PONY.

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British Club Tops

Motherwell – Pony 96/98 – Home Jersey

The 96/98 home strip is the last home top in Motherwell’s time with Pony and they certainly left with a bang. Still seen as quite controversial as it isn’t your average home kit but I love this top as the design is just so different from any other home top produced by Motherwell down to the “jester” style of the kit with the half and half colour scheme.

Obviously there is a reason this hasn’t been repeated as fans don’t have the best of memories as the 96/97 season almost ended in relegation after finishing 8th in the league but a strong end to the season, beating Rangers and Raith Rovers, who would end up relegated. A poor cup run also saw the well fired out the league cup early by Alloa Athletic and thrashed 4-1 in the Scottish Cup Quarter Final by Dundee United.

The next season Motherwell were even worse, finishing 9th and again reaching as far as the Quarter finals again in the Scottish Cup. This would be the season Alex McLeish would depart on the 10th of February with Finnish manager Harri Kampman taking over for the rest of the season.

Tommy Coyne was Motherwell’s league top scorer for both seasons, bagging 11 goals in 96/97 and 14 goals in 97/98. The Cobra really was Motherwell’s standout player during his 132 games for the club as shown by his 57 goals for The Steelmen.

A fun top that is good to look back on as it does a lot different such as adding a number onto the front of the top and on the sleeve, which also hasn’t been seen since. My respect goes to PONY for trying to do something different and change the look of football tops but unfortunately this was their last attempt with Motherwell.

With PONY gone, Motherwell looked to XARA who also made some fantastic strips, with some already featured on here and there’s more to come.

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British Club Tops

Motherwell 94/95 PONY

The 94/95 season was definitely one to remember as it was the first season to introduce the new league structure of a ten team league in Scotland’s top flight and was also the first season where three points were awarded for a win. Rangers won their seventh league title in a row and First Division side Raith Rovers won the league cup while Celtic finished fourth but still managed to win the Scottish Cup but as usual we’re looking into Motherwell’s performance that season and showing off a famous Pony made away top.

Motherwell finished second in the league, 15 points behind champions Rangers, after an impressive first campaign from Alex Mcleish after legendary manager Tommy McLean left in the summer of 94′. Mixed league form saw Motherwell beat Rangers twice, once at home and the other at Ibrox, but also lose games against Partick Thistle and lose 6-1 to an eventually relegated Dundee United.

League top goalscorer was given to Motherwell’s Tommy Coyne after his 16 league goals during the campaign, beating the likes of Billy Dodds (15) of Aberdeen, Mark Hately (13) of Rangers and Motherwell teammate Dougie Arnott (10).

This away top is first of many from the range of jerseys Pony produced between 1994 to 1998. Taking over from Hummel who made the infamous white and claret tram track away top the season before which is probably my favourite Motherwell top of all time and deserves more credit than it’s due as it is not like any other design that I’ve seen on a football top never mind Motherwell.

As for Pony tops this is far superior than any the other one they produced as the bright amber candy stripes jump right out at you while the pattern of chevrons is subtle yet noticeable the closer you look.

Absolute belter of top and not a bad signature on the back either.

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British International Tops

SOD – Scotland’s Right WingBack

What a run Stephen O’Donnell has had over the past year or so, starting off all the way back to November 2020 where he was part of the Scotland team to defeat Israel and Serbia, on penalties, to progress to an international tournament for the first time since 1998.

As 2020 ended and 2021 began, the right wingback position was up for constant debate between the Motherwell man and Nathan Patterson who looks to be the future for the position but hadn’t exactly done much at club level, only playing 7 games in the league for Rangers all season. Some thought this was enough to merit a start for young Patterson as Motherwell had an underwhelming season themselves.

As we know SOD played against the Czech Republic in the first game of Euro 2020 and was used as a scapegoat for what was a poor overall team performance. The draw with England must have been his highlight of 2021 as he managed to pocket “generational talent” Phil Foden and One Hundred Million pound left winger Jack Grealish for the full 90 minutes and giving the latter a few nippy challenges in the process.

We all know how the Croatia game went and we tumbled out of the tournament only scoring one goal but our chances of qualifying for the World Cup this year should make and Scot excited. After an eventful end to the group qualifying saw Scotland be drawn against Euro 2020 quarterfinalists Ukraine then either Austria or Wales if we progress.

This jersey comes from Scotland’s clash with Israel where Manchester United’s Scott McTominay scored a last minute winner to send Hampden into a frenzy. O’Donnell was dropped from this game but I would still expect Steve Clarke to continue putting his faith into the Motherwell captain’s ability and hopefully get him a trip to Qatar.

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The Weird and Wonderful World of Motherwell Football Collectibles Volume 1

As a Motherwell fan and a collector of random Motherwell memorabilia nothing comes close to this book by Matt Johnstone. Collecting different pieces from collectors in and around North Lanarkshire including the likes of jerseys, programmes and pendants from the footballing side of the book but also it looks into Motherwell fans trainer collecting habit and everyone’s favourite football game, Subbuteo.

A solid 258 page read takes you through the history of Motherwell Football Club starting off with the formation, ground and colours and travelling through the years and bouncing around European teams the mighty well have come up against.

If you like the sound of the book you can buy it using the link here: The Weird and Wonderful World of Motherwell Football Collectibles Volume

However it’s not just the book we’re covering today as we have been so kindly been given some Daft Laddie merch to coincide with the launch of the book. A take on the classic Admiral Welsh kit of 76′ that features the two stripes arching around with claret and white replacing the green and yellow of the original. It wouldn’t be complete without the Daft Laddie logo and Daft Laddie Apparel badge.

If you want to have a look at the Daft Laddie merch shop for T-shirts and Matt’s other book “Saturday is Service Day” you can here: https://daftladdie.bigcartel.com/

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Club Tops European

Fiorentina Christmas Jumper

It wouldn’t be Christmas without a tacky Christmas jumper and here at The Kit Rail we’ve scoped out the best one from Classic Football Shirts.

Their take on the 1999/2000 is a winner in my eyes as it features the print of Batistuta in the pattern along with Buon Natale (Merry Christmas in Italian) just goes together brilliantly along with the famous ‘Viola’ colour that Fiorentina have made so famous over the years. The Nintendo logo featured in the middle of the jersey has also been replaced with a festive Ho Ho Ho.

On the back we’ve obviously got none other than ‘Batistuta 9’ who was Fiorentina’s talisman for the 99/00 season as he bagged 23 goals in the Serie A and 5 goals in 10 appearances in the Champions league, scoring in games against both Arsenal and Manchester United.

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Stephen Craigan – Motherwell’s Most Capped Player

Looking all the way back to eighteen years ago to 12/02/03, we would find a young Northern Irish lad receive his first international cap in a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Finland.

From then on Craigan would receive an impressive 54 international caps from 2003 to 2011 while racking up some impressive victories such as a 1-0 win over England in 2005 and a 3-2 victory over Spain in 2006, who would go on to become European champions from this Euro 2008 qualifying group.

Over the course of the Euro 2008 qualifiers, Craigan would go unbeaten from the 06/09/06 win over Spain to the 21/11/07 where Spain would get their revenge. In this time, Northern Ireland would beat Denmark, Sweden, Lichtenstein twice and Latvia while drawing with both Scandinavian teams as well. During this time however Craigan was unfortunately dropped for what should have been an easy away game to Latvia, Northern Ireland lost 1-0 and proved how crucial he was to the Northern Ireland set up.

These two jerseys here are both from Northern Ireland’s 2004 Caribbean tour where they played against St Kitts and Nevis, Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago. They only team they didn’t beat were Barbados who they drew with 1-1.

He has also held his own against some of the worlds best such as playing against a young Robert Lewandowski in 2009, Raul, David Villa and Fernando Torres in 2006, Andrea Pirlo in 2010, Zlatan Ibrahimovic in 2007, Dimitar Berbatov in 2006 as well. However none of these generational talents compare to the numerous times he’s faced my dad at badminton over the years.

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British Club Tops

Super Richard Tait

Richard Tait arrived at Motherwell, aged 26, having just won Grimsby promotion into League Two from the National League via the playoffs after beating Forrest Green Rovers 3-1 at Wembley. The arrival of Tait wasn’t the only signing made from the English lower leagues as Ben Heneghan arrived from Chester, Carl McHugh from Plymouth Argyle and Ryan Bowman from Gateshead.

He would make his debut on the first day of the season in a 2-1 win away from home against Killie at Rugby Park. It would take Tait until the end of October to score his first goal in a 4-1 victory against Ross County. In March of his first season at the club, manager Mark McGhee was sacked and up stepped Stephen Robinson.

We all remember Robinson’s first full season, memorable cup final runs where we would see defeat at the hands of Celtic both times but that’s after the memories this team would give us such as Moult’s brace against Rangers, Curtis Main’s goal against Aberdeen or even Carl McHugh’s late strike against Hearts in the quarter final at Fir Park.

This top comes from Tait’s last season at the club in which he helped Motherwell qualify for the Europa League as they finished the league in third place, only bettered by the two Glasgow sides.

Tait was mainly utilised as a right back/right wing back but was often asked to fill out on the left hand side of defence where he would be played when Cadden was used as a right wing back.

A great full back and a top professional, Richard Tait will go down as a Motherwell player to remember. After all he was better than Cafu…..

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British Club Tops

Liam Kelly – Motherwell’s #1

Liam Kelly has been Motherwell’s first choice goalie for almost a year now since arriving in January 2021. In this time he has cemented himself as number one, forcing Trevor Carson out between the sticks and even the club due to Kelly’s incredible shot stopping ability and cat like reflexes.

Starting his career out in the blue side of Glasgow, it wouldn’t be until a move to Livingston FC before he would really catch the eye as a future Scotland prospect. You would imagine a move down south to QPR would help his case for the Scotland squad but a mid table finish and not getting a fair run of games made him surplus to requirements.

QPR’s loss was Motherwell’s gain as the 6ft 2′ shot stopper has been vital to the well’s strong finish to the 20/21 season, bagging himself Motherwell Player of the Year. Signing on a three year deal has also outlined Alexander’s ambition for the club by putting his faith in Kelly to lead the line for years to come.

Kelly’s fine form has also seen himself get a call up from Steve Clarke for two Scotland camps but unfortunately is yet to receive a cap for his services. As it looks, Kelly will be battling Zander Clark for the Scotland Number #1 shirt.