The day Whitby Town earned glory in red at Rothmans final win in Guernsey

Believe it or not, Whitby Town have played in the colours of the enemy before with red appearing as recently as January 2019.

Friday, 2nd July 2021, 8:29 am
Whitby Town won the Rothmans Overseas National KO final in 1977-78

Whitby Town walking out at the Silverlands donning the unusual colour of red came as a surprise to many supporters that travelled down to Buxton in January 2019.

However, some were old enough to remember when it wasn’t quite as uncommon as it would seem now.

The thought of even entertaining such a colour would send a shiver down the spine of some Blues fans, considering a team down the A171 happen to sport the very same colour.

And while the kit change may not have been down to choice; more a miscommunication between the two clubs, it certainly led to a talking point, and the question: when did Whitby Town last wear red?

Well, it’s actually been 41 years since red was featured prominently in a Whitby kit, home or away.

While it features in the Blucerchiati - the hoops (or stripes in this season’s kit) do feature a single red band - a nod to the club’s Italian cousins in Genoa, and their heritage and history.

But how much did you know of the Seasiders having a history stretching back through their existence with the colour?

When the club as we know it now formed in 1926, as Whitby United, they adopted red shirts with a white collar and cuffs, coupled with white shorts.

The reverse of the ensemble pulled together in Derbyshire last year, the strip would remain in place until the conclusion of the Second World War.

In 1945, the decision was taken by the football club to drop United from the club’s name. With the name change came a change in colours to the more familiar blue shirts, with white trimming.

The strip retained the white shorts, with the red and white mix-up being held for away games.

The change didn’t last, however. By 1949, Town was added to the club’s name, and red was made the home choice of kit again. In fact, the club liked the colour so much, they also decided to print the match day programmes in red ink.

From there on in, the red/blue debate rumbled through the club, with the committee struggling to make a firm decision on the club’s colours.

While officiailly, the colour of the club was red until the start of the 1957-58 season, the club adopted blue as its primary colour between the 1951-52 and 1953-54 seasons, with red the second choice.

The Seasiders returned to red for the opening game of the 1954-55 season against Durham City, though again wavered, going back to blue as the season wore on.

Eventually, the club made the decision to adopt blue as its primary colour, at the start of the 1957-58 season, with white eventually becoming the change colour for the club over red.

That wasn’t the end of the club’s affair with the colour of the enemy, however.

Red was worn in the final of the 1977-78 Rothmans National Overseas Knockout Cup, with the Seasiders taking home the trophy, beating Mangotsfield United 3-1 to regain the cup they prevously won in the 1975-76 season, to make them the competition’s most successful club, winning two of the three titles up for grabs, and ensuring a Northern League club won it across all three seasons.

Finals weekend was particularly special for the club, with the Seasiders playing their first-ever games overseas – at St. Peter’s Port, Guernsey.

Backed by a number of supporters who had travelled for the weekend, Whitby’s first game in the semi-final was against Bideford Town, at Corbet Field.

The Seasiders fell behind in the first half, with Burluraux levelling on 58 minutes, forcing extra-time with neither side managing to find a breakthrough after that point.

In the additional 30 minutes, however, Whitby would go on to edge out their opponents and make the final, with Jones popping up with a winner in the 99th minute.

A second final in three seasons – this time on overseas turf – brought something else unusual to the table too. Whitby Town playing in an unfamiliar colour.

An all-red strip was worn in the final – the first time Whitby had donned their original club colours since 1957, when they settled on royal blue following a 12-year on-off love affair with red after the Second World War.

And the colour served them well on this occasion as they faced Mangotsfield United, with the Seasiders running out 3-1 winners, thanks to goals from Hampton, Burluraux and Tony Boylan, with Derek Nutt pulled a consolation back for the South Gloucestershire side.

After that final – just the competition’s third, the tournament was disbanded.

The rising costs of covering losses became problematic, leaving the Seasiders as the final holders of the competition, and its most successful club with two titles to their name – with Northern League football coming out on top in all three seasons.