My Admiral West Ham Collection

West Ham Matchworn 1980 FA Cup Final


Being a West Ham fan certainly doesn’t run in the family. This may sound slightly unusual, but it may have been my Grandfather's support for Aston Villa that influenced my early fondness towards West Ham and the kit. The claret and blue colourway just seemed to resonate with me, however, living in London, Villa was never an option. My Dad was a massive Manchester United fan growing up but, once again, my location hindered a trip to Old Trafford, so he took me to Upton Park instead.

Attending my first match marked a pinnacle moment in my life. I remember the tube journey through London, the sounds, the smell, and the first time walking up the steps of the terrace with a 'Hammer' programme in hand and seeing the grass for the first time. The game was August 1976, West Ham vs Leicester, with both teams wearing beautiful Admiral kits. I was hooked at this moment.

As a child, my hero was Hammers legend Sir Trevor Brooking, a sublime player who I saw control a midfield many times from the terraces. This is where my admiration for Admiral kits started, as Brooking wore the brand for both international and club teams. One of my prized possessions is his match worn England shirt from the World Cup Qualifying game in Hungary. England won 3-1 with Brooking scoring two. Images of the iconic one-two goal with Keegan, when the ball famously lodged in the goal stanchion, are etched in my mind wearing the famous white kit. It’s amazing to think I have this kit sat in my wardrobe.

The Start Of The West Ham Collection

I got my first West Ham shirt for my 10th birthday. It was the iconic Admiral design with the claret and blue yoke on the front. This design was first worn by West Ham during the 1976 European Cup Winners Cup Final versus Anderlecht in Brussels. I got the away shirt the same year at Christmas and the England late 70s kit not long after. I wore them all the time, playing football whilst pretending to be Brooking at the park or at school donned in my Admiral West Ham or England shirt. These three shirts started an obsession that has brought me immense joy over the years, but at the considerable expense of my bank balance.

The collection is currently over a thousand West Ham shirts, with over 600 of these being match worn, and yes, that does still include my very first West Ham replica shirts from when I was 10 years old!


West Ham Matchworn 1976 Cup Winners Cup Final Kit


Although I’m a fan of all of the shirts, my most treasured possession is the 1976 European Cup Winners Cup Final shirt against Anderlecht. The shirt is a masterpiece with a one-off central crest which features 'Brussels 1976' embroidery underneath. Number 8 was worn that night by Graham Paddon.


David Cross - West Ham Matchworn 1980 FA Cup Final


The 1980 FA Cup Final shirts are really rare as they were specially produced by Admiral just for that one game. The away shirts used by the players in the league, although beautiful, were very different to the design worn at Wembley when they lifted the trophy.This shirt was worn by striker David Cross.


Billy Bonds - West Ham Matchworn 1980 FA Cup Final


For the 1980 FA Cup Final Admiral produced both long sleeved and short sleeved versions of the shirts. Given the weather was great that day the entire team opted for short sleeves. Here’s the long sleeved spare shirt that would have been worn by captain Billy Bonds.


Frank Lampard - West Ham Matchworn 1977-79 Home Kit


I have many Admiral West Ham home shirts in my collection. My favourite is probably the one worn by club legend Frank Lampard Snr. in a match between 1977 and ‘79. I managed to get him to sign it at West Ham’s training ground ‘Chadwell Heath’ back in 1999 when he was Assistant Manager.

If you want to see more I have written a book entitled ‘Playing for the Shirt, One Hundred West Ham United Match-Worn Shirts’ published by Pitch Publishing which looks at my journey collecting West Ham shirts over the years.

My Admiral West Ham Collection by Mick Clifford
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