Admiral and the FA Cup Final

Admiral Sportswear's association with the FA Cup is notable, with the iconic logo appearing on kits worn in the final for 4 out of 5 seasons from 1976-1980. This period marks a significant era in the history of Admiral and the genesis of football kit design.


1976: The Admiral Final

Admiral’s connection with the FA Cup began in 1976, in what became known as the ‘Admiral Final’. Both Manchester United and Southampton wore striking Admiral walk-out jackets as they entered the pitch through the iconic Wembley tunnel, before revealing their kits just before kick-off. For Admiral's first season in the final Southampton wore striking yellow kits, heavily branded with the Admiral logo on the chest and logo stripes running along the sleeve of the shirt in blue. Conversely, the Manchester United kit, although produced by Admiral, didn’t feature any logos apart from the famous club crest.

The match saw Manchester United dominate early on, with several missed opportunities thwarted by Southampton goalkeeper Ian Turner. Southampton created their own chances, with Mick Channon being denied by United’s goalkeeper Alex Stepney. As the match neared extra time, Southampton’s Bobby Stokes received a pass from Jim McCalliog and volleyed home the winning goal, securing Southampton’s first major trophy.


1977: Manchester United win in Admiral

In 1977, Manchester United returned to the FA Cup Final in their Admiral kits, this time sporting the Admiral logo proudly on their chest against bitter rivals Liverpool. For the second final in a row they wore their iconic red home shirts, forcing Liverpool to switch to their away colours. 

All three goals of the match came in a brief span in the second half. Stuart Pearson scored first for Man United, followed by an equaliser from Liverpool’s Jimmy Case. Shortly after, Man United regained the lead with a deflected shot by Lou Macari, which went in off Jimmy Greenhoff’s chest. The victory was a significant achievement for manager Tommy Docherty, marking his first FA Cup win in four attempts.


1979: The One That Got Away

After a hiatus in 1978, Admiral reappeared in the 1979 final with Manchester United once again in their red home kits against Arsenal, who wore yellow away shirts. This match is remembered for its dramatic conclusion. Arsenal led 2–0 until the 86th minute, when Gordon McQueen and Sammy McIlroy scored to equalise for United. However, Alan Sunderland’s last-minute goal secured a 3–2 victory for Arsenal. Despite the loss, the Admiral shirt remained prominent in celebration photos, notably with star player Liam Brady swapping shirts with a Manchester United player. 


1980: The Hammers Lift The Trophy

In 1980, Admiral featured in the final again, this time with West Ham facing Arsenal in an all-London match. West Ham wore a special white away kit with Cup Final embroidery and a simplified crest. Both teams wore away kits following a pre-match coin toss. The game was notable as West Ham were playing in the second division this season and thus were massive underdogs. 

The match saw Trevor Brooking score the only goal, leading West Ham to victory. Arsenal dominated possession, but West Ham’s defence, led by goalkeeper Phil Parkes, held firm. A late challenge on West Ham’s Paul Allen by Willie Young, which only resulted in a yellow card, was a notable moment as Allen was the youngest player to have played in an FA Cup Final at the time and would have made it a comfortable Hammers win, although it didn't matter in the end as West Ham celebrated the cup victory.


 This 1980 final was Admiral's last appearance in an FA Cup Final. Nonetheless, this period established a lasting legacy for Admiral in FA Cup history, linking the brand to the historic moments and legendary players to have walked out at Wembley over the years.

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