Hartlepool is a port town in the North East of England which has a proper history in football. The club has won the FA Amateur Cup, the tournament that was only under the FA Cup, in 1905 as West Hartlepool and spent 96 years straight in the Football Leagues before dropping back down to the National League in 2017. Hartlepool however, has quite the rich history for Britain and retaining its sovereignty as well. The port city is famous for providing the Royal Navy with porting and ship building over centuries especially in the World Wars. The people of Hartlepool even contributed by donating the most money per head to the war effort in World War I for the entirety of Britain. With these two factors being as they are, both the football club and the rich history of keeping Britain sovereign and free, Hartlepool United will once a year meet between its Council Members and the Supporter’s Group to design a kit that honors those who gave their lives for Britain on Remembrance Day in a Kit of Remembrance.
This year, 2020, marks the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain which was fought valiantly from the Summer to Autumn of 1940. The British Royal Air Force and the British people worked effortlessly to see out and fend off the Nazi raids launched on the isle successfully, keeping the nation free and sovereign. The defeat of the Nazis was telling of the outcome of the war as the British showed they were able to be defeat the Axis Power in what looked to be a David versus Goliath style tale thanks to the strength of the British people never letting their spirit be broken. The RAF is largely commemorated for the feat of keeping the Nazi bombing raids in check and fighting off the opposing planes and bombers. Hartlepool was one of the many targets of these raids as the town’s ship building yards were a common target for the mass bombings. The town was able to endure 43 of these raids through the war and able to aid in the British War Effort successfully and abundantly.
The resilience in Hartlepool was largely in thanks to the Royal Air Force base, RAF Greatham, which was located in West Hartlepool and active from 1933-1958. With the rich roots to the RAF and the Battle of Britain, Hartlepool United to design this year’s Remembrance Day Kit around the anniversary of the heroic RAF victory in the Battle of Britain. The kit, manufactured by O’neill’s depicts the famous ZD-B Submarine Spitfire, which flew in Africa and Europe along with its multiple film appearances, in place of where Hartlepool United’s sponsor “The Prestige” would generally be displayed. A faded Union Jack also flies across the upper chest to shoulders of kit among the clouds in which the two Spitfires play. The second Spitfire, whether or not intentional, has a spot right below the Hartlepool United Crest and resides right on the heart of the wearer as those who sacrificed and risked their lives may be remembered in our hearts. On the sleeve in which the Vanarama National League patch would normally reside, the RAF logo is printed in replacement. At the bottom of the kit is a dotted map of the UK and northern part of Europe. The back of the jersey is unchanged in design to the front minus displaying the iconic slogan of “Lest We Forget” at the bottom of the kit.
In my personal opinion The Pools have done an amazing job on this kit as they have the last two years. The club really did a beautiful job in the way that the kit is marketed as well. While many things like this can be seen as a money grab, I genuinely don’t see even the slightest hint here. The kit is made to order purely for those who order them and aren’t over stocked, very sorry those who I got excited with this article, so the cost and profit don’t make a huge bit of sense from a business point of view if a large profit is a goal. The kit also removes the sponsor of the jersey to replace for the honored RAF and there is no commercialization featured on the kit other than the kit maker and the club itself leaving it purely to represent the heroic pilots and groundscrew of the RAF. This touch makes the kit all the more special to me and a lovely look back at the roots of Hartlepool and all of Britain and honors those it is meant to well. The National League side definitely have me itching for next year’s release assuming they continue the tradition.
Author: Riley Moore