The 2018-19 WSL season has had its highs and its lows; it’s been a welcome change to see a team other than Manchester City or Chelsea at the top of the pile – more so given how [table toppers] Arsenal have struggled with injury this season. Likewise, it’s been a delight for all neutrals to see Yeovil Town make a marked improvement on last season and actually win some games (a bittersweet given the recent news of the Glovers’ financial woes). Tanya Oxtoby’s youthful Bristol City have provided their own roller coaster ride this season, but with more peaks than dips, will surely go down as a success.
There are those teams who’ve struggled, those who’ve spent most of the season trying to find a solid footing and carve out an identity, but such is league soccer. And no matter what, there has always been a memorable individual performance or two, even from those teams languishing at the wrong end of the table.
However, there is one thing I won’t miss from this season. Not a player, nor club, or even a chant, but a kit. Whilst most soccer kits divide opinion, we’re usually not persnickety enough to start picking apart a team’s training wear, yet one club has worn such a heinously ugly training top this year it’s been unavoidable.
Oh yes, I’m talking about Chelsea’s blue and white checkerboard top. Hear me internet: there is only one checkerboard design that’s fit for purpose for soccer kits and that’s Croatia’s, and not just because it’s part of the nation’s cultural identity; Chelsea’s isn’t even a poor man’s imitation.
How do I hate thee? Let me count the ways…
1. It’s not even a flat checkerboard but pointlessly jauntily askew evoking a harlequin design. What has this got to do with Chelsea? Your guess is as good as mine.
2. There are odd patches of red on the lower half of the body and sleeves making some of the diamonds look raised, or confusingly, blooded.
3. The baggy nature of the fit leaves the lines ruffled and wobbly. When you look at the top in full flow as the Blues warm up it’s as if you’re partway through a sitcom flashback and reality has suddenly gone wavy.
4. It looks like one of your dad’s hand-me-down 80s sweaters that your mother made him stop wearing when they started dating.
5. Chelsea’s main shirt sponsor is Carabao and if there’s one place a buffalo skull is superfluous, it’s in the middle of an unfathomable harlequin golf jumper.
6. The only thing worse that the training top? When it’s been paired with Chelsea’s lemon-yellow away shorts (someone hand me the sick bucket). It’s not even fair to call it a clash, it looks like someone has spilled a cooler full of custard over the bottom half of a tablecloth.
The shirt, for its crimes against fashion, doesn’t even deserve to be scrunched into a box and thrown into the attic for ten years before being given to Goodwill, but rather buried in the garden with a prayer said for it.
So, as the WSL season draws to a close, it’s time to rejoice and put the Chelsea training top in the trash where it belongs.