One Lion, Three Stripes.
LABEL-loving loyalists will be delighted that Boro are to switch to shirts made by one of the game's biggest players, adidas.
For years the football fashionistas at the Riverside have agonised over the shocking faux pas of turning out in kits that the concourse cognescenti would look down on. Errea were tacky, they said. The piping was all wrong, The designs clumsy and childlike. The red too red. Or not red enough. The overlaid stitching ran left to right. How will we sign any of the metropolitan elite. I mean, who would be seen dead in THAT?
You would think we were kitted out in the pound shop and the rest were swanking around in Pysche to listen to some of the harsher critics.
Now the fashion police can rejoice that the classic replica shirt is back in vogue, that like minded men about town are flocking to the casual matchday appeal of climacool fabric technology that has revived drab old polyester. Those three stripes are so you, darling.
Expect Boro to now sweep to world domination with a cavalier sexy swagger than matches their eye-catching stylish attire and with the impact of a market leading brand behind us get set for the trophies to flow and household names to sign. And it can only be a matter of time before Posh Spice is spotted in House in Yarm High Street and WAGS are dancing on the tables in Hide.
Maybe not. I'm not sure adidas tops will really help Boro rival Milan in any sphere.
At least it will stop the sneering from those who look down on our Errea, the George of the replica fashion spectrum.
But hold on a minute you bunch of bloody posers - lest we forget Errea dressed Boro through 14 years of unprecedented glory. When you fashion sheep look back at the pictures you may cringe at Errea shirts in the way you do with high waisters, bubble perms and your Joey wedge - but just think of the memories.
Errea may have offended the sensibilities of more sophisticated consumers but the brand and the designs will still resonate through our history when we look back on the DVDS of Ravanelli scoring at Wembley, of the glory at Cardiff and the crazy rollercoaster ride to Eindhoven. Vision by Gibson. Shirt by Errea.
Think of the star names who wore that shirt: Juninho, Merson, Festa, Ince, Viduka, Southgate, Boksic, Yakubu, the Sugababes, Mrs Karembeu">. Think of the dramatic games: finals, semi-finals, the Twin Towers, the Millenium Stadium, Rome, Lisbon, Bucharest. Brilliant memories. A golden age no matter how you dress it up.
Boro were the jewel in Errea's crown in Britain, the upstart Italian outfit's first big club back at the birth of Bryan Robson optimism in 1994-95. It was a match made in heaven: Errea were out to gatecrash Europe's biggest sportswear market and wanted a rising club with big dreams - "an English Parma" - while vibrant Boro wanted a firm who would give them control over distribution and exclusive selling rights to maximise revenue in shops planned for the new stadium and the town (and the tiny franchise outfit in the Portrack nerve centre of then sponsors Dickens).
And let's be honest here, after the DIY East European no frills functionalism of Skills Leisurewear and with a distribution network limited to the club shop at Warwick Street we were in no position to be precious about their limitations.
Back then replica shirts were a minority interest. Look at pictures of the Holgate End in Robbo's promotion year - Errea's first - and among the sweater shop jumpers and donkey jackets there is the odd top dotted about worn by kids and the ra-ra anorak element but it is not the retina scorching sea of replica red you see now.
Shirt sales didn't really explode until after Euro 96, after Juninho and after the cultural muscle of Sky Sports made football a marketing juggernaut that forced even the XXXLs among us to squeeze into the mandatory matchday uniform. Now everyone wears replica shirts and it is not unusual to see entire families - including nana - kitted out like an equal opportunities five-a-side team.
Both the club and Errea have struggled to fully exploit that spectacular growth and the once mutually beneficial economic model has been creaking in recent years.
However they try to spin it, the club have been constrained by the only outlets being at two club shops, losing untold sales in our hinterlands because mams in Redcar, Billingham and beyond were not willing or able to make a special trip to buy that special birthday gift for Boro barmy kids, instead opting for the convenience of the chain store choice of England, Brazil, Barcelona or - heresy! - Chelsea and Manchester United.
Not everyone can buy online. Not everyone happens to be passing the stadium shop.
Errea have struggled too. Their UK stable has grown to include the likes of Burnley and Grimsby and a host of pyramid part-timers - on Billingham Synthonia's march to the FA Vase semi-final two years ago all bar one of their opponents in the competition proper were kitted out by Errea, most in two designs in different colours and noteably semi-final rivals Totten's offensive pink away kit.
But as they have expanded their capacity seems to have stagnated leading to annual complaints about new Boro shirts being released late and missing out on the all important foreign holiday selling season, away designs not reflecting the traditions of the club, quality poor, a full range of sizes not being available when they are launched and only arriving in frustrating dribs and drabs and, initially at least, a lot of defects.
Some of the early efforts were cheap and nasty and looked like they had been knocked up by the designers children armed with a box of crayons. That Mikkel Beck red one with the vertical tram lines running down before breaking up and fading towards the bottom. What was that about? The Liverpool-lite ones. The Norway ones. There was little subtley or feel for the club's history in those early years.
They also threw a series of hidious away shirt designs at us including the use of purple, two contrasting greens, an insipid Argentina effort, a hidious white body criss-crossed with a blue moster truck tyre tread that echoed our crushed Wembley dreams and a bizarre cut-and-shut shirt that hinted at both the red and white and black and white stripes of the local rivals. The annual away shirt selection often brought much merriment to the sports desk as we bitched away with a seering, sneering delicious vitriol. How we laughed.
Ironically, now, just as they are being axed, they have got it just about perfect with the traditional white band sympathetically restored and the black and blue stripes rendered neatly on the away kit. The choices we were presented with in the annual exercise in participatory democracy like 'Top Idol' were getting better by the year. This years selection was fantastic for instance.
The Errea gripes were so persistent and widespread and the problems seemingly unresolved every year that rumours grew that the only reason Boro stuck with them were because Steve Gibson had shares in Errea... so, another myth exploded.
Boro's logic was that the Errea deal allowed them to take all the profit normally split between club, retailer and distributor and the model worked well financially for them. The news today suggests that adidas have been willing to work within that structure, although it would create an anomoly within their global machine and it would surprise no one if that fit jars and is eventually reshaped.
The advantages of the switch are obvious. Fans will be getting a quality product from a company that will have no problem hitting the deadline or supplying the full range of sizes. And if adidas stick to their formula it could also mean a welcome return to a two year lifecycle of the home shirt.The club will get the benefits of a massive marketing machine and the cachet of the world's second biggest sportswear juggernaut, a brand that is down with the kids and adidas will capture another strategic outpost in their global battle against Nike and they will rack up units as the link-up filters down the retail chain and the kids queue up to accessorise their Boro tops with adidas trainers.
Initially the existing geographically and financially contained Boro marketing model will be maintained and the MFC Retail monopoly will continue but as they symbiosis takes hold and the advantages become apparant the hope will grow that the Tees diaspora will be able to purchase kits nationwide. Or at least in Thirsk, Whitby and York.
adidas has it's problems of course. Across the globe the bulk of their templated shirts make few concessions to individuality or tradition - compare their Chelsea and Liverpool numbers or their cloned World Cup selection, identical but for colour - but then, with Errea we picked a style and colour out of a catalogue.
And Adidas do have some leeway with design. They had done a white chest band for Turkey, Stuttgart and Spartak in the past and here's one I did earlier, with a mock-up based on the stylish number they produced for MLS team Chicago Fire.