As we mentioned in the previous article, by the beginning of the 20th century pale knees began to emerge between the shorts and the socks as the league authorities relaxed their regulations. By 1909 and the FA Cup final between Manchester United and Bristol City, the style of the kits and the length of the shorts were not that much different from those of today, although in the intervening years style have varied.
After a pause for the First World War, the leagues resumed following the conclusion of the conflict and the style of shorts once again seemed to lengthen to almost comic lengths. Not only did they lower downwards, they also seemed to head upwards to Simon Cowell type areas with the waistband around the navel.
In fact long and baggy shorts remained de rigeur for some years and arguably until the mid-1960s when, perhaps influenced by relaxing social attitudes and other aspects of pop culture, the length of shorts followed the length of skirts and began to shorten. This was probably a sensible move for the aesthetic quality of the football short and also as an aid to movement for the player – lighter garments did not weigh as heavily as the longer ones.
It all took a turn for the worse in the mid-1970s when shorts began to appear which were
horrifyingly short and tight. To make matters worse this was an era in which the fashion was for flowing locks and facial hair and spectators were treated to the bizarre sight of large, hairy blokes squeezed into skintight uniforms. It probably appealed to a certain demographic though…
By the mid to late 1980s, shorts were returning to a style which could once more be deemed acceptable in polite society and perhaps with the advent of the Premier League in 1992 new sartorial standards were set in which the eye of the world was on the players and they knew it. Hopefully we will never again see shorts which are too short or too long!