original illustrations of the kits worn during the season
Possible Change Kit
Possible Change Kit
The Season in brief
The 'Heathens' promotion challenge evaporated in the winter and early spring. After a late rally they again finished 4th, some nine points behind Champions Manchester City. There were early defeats in the F.A., Manchester and Lancashire Cups. On seven occasions the defence conceded four or more goals, but it was the attack on which the committee were focused. Henry Boyd, who had scored five goals in twelve games, John Cunningham and Matt Gillespie were all suspended sine die in March 1899. Gillespie later apologised and was re-instated but Boyd and Cunningham were sold.
The club negotiated a five year lease giving them sole possession of the Bank Street ground. At last the running track that encircled the pitch could be removed and wholesale ground improvements made. Plans were announced for a new stand in the Clayton End, raising the stand in the Bradford End and adding dressing rooms etc., and the possibly of a new covered stand on the Reserved side. The club were reported to have received a fairly large sum of money to improvements although it is not definite that the work was ever carried out.
There was no change to Newton Heath's home kit. The club's registered colours are given as white and blue in the Association of Football Statistics annual covering the 1898/99 season. This information was confirmed by contributor Pete Wyatt.
There is less certainty of the club's change kit. We know it is likely to have been a striped shirt from a match report from the 1897 pre-season parctice game, 'Whites' versus 'Stripes'. We had assumed that the green/gold striped home shirts from 1893 were used as the change kit. However, contributor John Thomas has uncovered a match report from Newton Heath's game at Walsall on January 21st, in which the Heathens change shirts were described as a "red and black combination". This shirt may have been borrowed for the game at Fellows Park, although equally it could have been the club's standard change kit.
We have included both shirts as possible change kits, and our research is continuing.
Further confusion regarding the change kit has been created by a photograph supposedly taken during Newton Heath's match against City at Hyde Road on December 26th, in which the 'Heathens' appear to be wearing a quartered shirt. We have doubts that the match has been correctly identified. Further, we have found no other evidence of Newton Heath playing in a change kit against City in previous seasons, and, given the convention of the day, it is likely to have been the home side that changed kits, and not the visitors.