Tony Sylvester indulges in a spot of sports kit-induced nostalgia while considering our new reversible Games Jacket.
It's increasingly hard not to be a grumpy old buffer these days. One tries to keep chipper in the face of modernity; to embrace, change and kid oneself that all this new-fangled stuff is ace. But, deep down, you know it's rubbish.
This is especially true when it comes to sports kits.
Stuck in the overly protectionist grip of a fair-to-middling public school in the mid ‘80s meant the ownership of a 'proper' games kit. We trotted out onto a muddy rugby pitch in garb that bared an uncanny resemblance to that worn in the sepia-toned portraits of XIs and XVs of yore staring down from the venerable walls. Thick cotton rugby shirts with herringbone plackets and rubber buttons; boots with screw in studs; shorts that could cut the circulation from the second row's thighs and 1/4 zip jersey sweatshirts cut short and wide. I don't miss those cold and wet Wednesday afternoons, but I sure as hell miss the clobber.
In moments of half-baked nostalgia, eBay searches for old kit prove fruitless. Worse still, the garish sight of their modern equivalents brings terror and revulsion. The tried and tested classics of my youth replaced with digitally printed poly-mix rash guards and skin-tight aberrations seemingly modelled for misguided triathletes, resembling something a frogman might don for the Tour De France. I can almost feel the faded photographic scowls of long-gone team captains glaring from dusty trophy cabinets.
The new Games Jacket offers a brief respite from all that ghastliness. Cut short and slightly boxy, this lightweight piece of kit is reversible, one side plain, one featuring a broad sewn stripe across the chest as a call back to the two-sided tops used for inter-house tournaments: one side plain, the other proudly bearing house colours. Echoing the lauded construction of Drake’s shirts, the soft collar and half-ribbed hem make for an easy wearing blouson perfect for layering through seasonal flux. For one moment, you’re back in the cloisters making your way to the fives court or fencing salle, and all is right with the world.