It’s a sight for sore eyes.
Wycombe Wanders, a club in the fourth division of professional soccer in the UK, unveiled its new jerseys for next season July 6. And while some jersey reveals have become turgid affairs, with many clubs relying on templated designs that keep popping up everywhere you look, Wycombe did something markedly different with its new home goalkeeper jersey. The design, which the team developed with its jersey manufacturer, O’Neills, takes inspiration from a kaleidoscope’s pattern to produce something that’s supposed to distract an opposing team’s striker when they’re bearing down on the goalkeeper.
Barry Richardson, Wycombe’s goalkeeping coach and reserve keeper, worked with O’Neills to develop the design, and told the BBC that he wanted to create a target to draw strikers’ eyes toward the keeper instead of the net behind them. “I had a kaleidoscope as a kid,” Richardson added. “I remember looking at it and it drew my eyes into the middle. With all of the sparkly colors, you could see them all on the peripheral, but your eyes are always drawn to the center.”
The psychedelic design is not without precedent: Chelsea, the current Premier League champions, have employed brightly colored goalkeeper jerseys to make their man between the sticks appear taller and broader for about a decade, and many other clubs have since followed suit. But other than a few adventurous jerseys in the 1980s and 90s, nothing this dramatic has been attempted. Scott Brown, Wycombe’s first-choice goalkeeper, told the club’s blog that he was a fan of the new jerseys, adding: “I’m looking forward to wearing them throughout the season, even if I get a few rude comments from opposition fans behind my goal.”
Whether the new jerseys will actually help Brown or anyone else who plays in goal for Wycombe this season remains to be seen. “There are only three things that are certain in life: death, taxes and goalkeepers conceding goals,” Richardson said. “So if we can concede less and it preys on a few people mentally, they’re thinking ‘I’ll show them and stick it in the top corner,’ we’ve already affected them.”
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