11 best non-league kits of 2020/21
From the National League to amateur football, we’ve crowned the best non-league kit of the year. There’s even a trophy involved!
There are some cracking kits in non-league football, but sadly they often don’t get the recognition they deserve. Instead, the spotlight invariably falls on the big boys, clubs sat comfortably in the higher reaches of English football with (in most cases) much larger fanbases.
This doesn’t really seem right, since there are plenty of lower league shirts which are every bit as creative as those in the Premier League. In fact, some of these non-league shirts put the UK’s biggest clubs to complete shame, bursting with unique character and making us scoff incredulously at the word "template".
From the heights of the National League to the lower depths of amateur football, we’ve been looking for the very best non-league kits of 2020/21. After asking fans to nominate their local clubs, we’ve looked through 100s of shirts and ranked our favourite XI: a dream team of football kit giant-killers, if you will.
And, yes, there’s even some silverware up for grabs here, even though this is probably the most unofficial award of all-time. Let’s dive in, right down to the bottom of the football pyramid.
11. Stretford Paddock - Away
Well, we asked the fans for their opinions, and they kept replying with the same two words: Stretford Paddock. Although this might be what happens when someone like Stephen Howson gets involved, it’s fair to say that both of their new kits are more than worthy of a place on this list. If only Umbro were still making Manchester United's kits.
Since we’re always partial to a black and gold combo, we’ve plucked for this really smart away shirt. It’s a nice and simple design which isn’t trying too hard, but the gold badges work perfectly with the subtle stripes, reaffirming our belief that you can’t really go wrong with these colours together. Classy.
10. St Albans City - Home
Now that’s a sponsor. While Premier League shirts are plagued by betting companies, St Albans have struck up a partnership with Enter Shikari instead, making us all wish that more bands could sponsor their local clubs. I’m already dreaming of Oasis on the latest City kit, or Brighton & Hove Albion sponsored by, um, Keane?
Either way, this is yet another really smart design from hummel, though we’ve really come to expect nothing less over the past few years. The colours, collar and shoulder pattern all work very well together, but it’s that fantastic sponsor which ultimately makes it stand out from so many awesome kits this year.
I’m just sorry it’s not the winner. And for that terrible joke.
9. Durham City AFC - Goalkeeper
Brand: Farrellys Sport
Wow. We thought it was important to acknowledge the great work being done by Farrellys Sport, a brand which provides North East clubs with some downright unbelievable kits. Naturally, we’ve decided to include their bravest design yet, which just so happens to be Durham City AFC’s incredible new keeper shirt.
This probably won’t be to everyone’s tastes, but there’s no denying this shirt is just plain fun. It’s absolutely bursting with bright colour, as if someone has melted down a pack of Skittles and gotten overexcited with their paintbrush. It’s bold, adventurous and honestly wouldn’t look half-bad on Jorge Campos. Let’s just hope their keeper likes it as much as we do.
8. Banbury United - Home
Brand: The Terrace
Earlier in the summer, Banbury United let their fans vote on what their team would wear this season. Although The Terrace came up with four absolute gems, the supporters have got their choice of the home kit completely spot on. This is about as jazzy as football kits get - and that’s never a word that we use lightly.
Quite simply, the sensational pattern just works perfectly with the club’s colours. The flecks of white and orange ensure this is a shirt packed with character and fun, while even the (slightly clunky) Banbury Plant & Skip Hire logo slots in well with these colours. Also, we need to talk more about that terrific crest, but maybe we should save that for another day.
7. Loch Ness FC - Home & Away
Brand: ZN Sport
These kits went viral a little while ago, and it’s not really hard to see why. They were all over the BBC’s social media back in July, and it looks as though the club has been completely inundated with orders ever since. This is the first time they've moved away from templates and gone for a bespoke design instead - yeah, it couldn’t really have gone much better.
I’m not even going to bore you with the details here, and we’re more than happy to let Nessie do the talking instead. In fact, we were trying to restrict this list to just English clubs, but we love these so much we just had to make an exception. Basically, these shirts are special, and fully deserving of all the publicity they’ve already received.
6. Gateshead FC - Away
Just look at that pattern. The new Gateshead away shirt is an absolute beauty, a retro-themed masterpiece which outdoes a lot of Puma’s work in the Premier League. The claret and blue combo doesn’t just look insanely striking with that gradient effect, but it’s also a nod back to the club’s original colours. It ticks all the right boxes for us.
Having said that, there are plenty of fans who will definitely prefer the smarter home shirt, which takes the club back to the classic half-and-half design. But it’s the bolder and braver away kit which has really stood out to us here, even if it makes your eyes go a little funny if you stare for too long. Whatever you think, Gateshead have a collection to be proud of this season.
5. Malvern Town - Home & Away
Brand: HG Sportswear
Speaking of fantastic collections, Malvern Town have delivered an incredibly strong one-two punch this summer. Both the home and away kits are completely oozing with class, serving up the kind of sleek retro style which never fails to make us all a little giddy. The away is clearly an absolute cracker, but it’s the home kit which ultimately takes the cake.
The stripes, collar and cuffs are all absolutely gorgeous, making the most of the claret and blue palette and doing a great job of integrating the sponsor (quite possibly making an ‘H’ for HG Sportswear, I’ve honestly no idea). This is so good, I’m actually pretty sure the likes of Aston Villa and West Ham should be busy taking notes round about now.
4. Northwich Victoria - Home
Brand: Buccaneer Sports
The new Northwich Victoria shirt is just so smooth. That beautiful sash pattern isn’t just popping with colour, but it’s also inspired by one of the club’s most iconic shirts from the early 90s. The striking shades of green look just as beautiful now as they did in 1993, but this time it features some modern detailing to freshen it all up a bit.
Above all, however, is the incredible gesture made by the club in honour of their former captain, Kenny Jones. Not that you really need an extra incentive to buy one of these beauties, a donation will be made to Prostate Cancer UK for every shirt sold. Terrific stuff from the Vics.
3. FC Halifax Town - Third
Good grief, this is lovely. What with the pixelated pattern, stripes and gradient effect, there’s actually quite a lot going on here, but somehow it all just… works. Although there’s no question it’s a bit busy, the entire design is held together by a glorious white, gold and burgundy colourway, delivering the kind of classy kit we’d maybe expect The Royal Family to play in (they should totally start a team).
The irony is that adidas have developed a reputation for being a little dull this year, and yet here are Halifax Town with a design which blows most others out of the water. The crest, branding and sponsor all slot into the design seamlessly, and this is the best thing to come out of Halifax since those adverts with Howard Brown.
Just like the ads, we won’t be forgetting this shirt in a hurry.
2. 1874 Northwich - Home
Brand: SK Kits
Yep, 1874 Northwich are at it yet again, following up last year’s stunners with yet another classic. This time it’s the home shirt which has got us all drooling at the mouth, with SK Kits producing something which has seemingly dropped in from the future.
The shirt was actually created from an open design competition, but the club’s unmistakable character still resonates from the design here - and it’s hands-down one of the freshest designs we’ve seen this season. The modern, unique pattern is an absolute masterpiece, while that dark shade of green was always gonna be easy on the eye.
The collar and cuffs are spot on, the sponsor is unobstructive, and that solitary black stripe makes the crest practically pop out of the shirt. It’s pretty flawless, really, and the perfect partner in crime for their terrific away shirt.
1. North Ferriby - Away
Brand: HG Sportswear
Ah, so this is what true love feels like. The North Ferriby away shirt is just… beautiful. HG Sportswear have knocked this so far out the park, I’m not sure there’s even any point in carrying on with the game. A round of applause may even be in order.
Let’s start with the colours. The dark green and gold combo is absolutely glorious, throwing up shades of Italy’s famous “Renaissance” shirt and making us just as desperate to part with our cash. However, it’s the unbelievable attention to detail which sets this apart from every other shirt in our list, and it’s clear that some real passion has gone into the design of this thing.
The logos and crest are nothing short of magnificent, sitting atop a subtle pattern which adds a touch of irresistible depth - and, just as importantly, continues onto the back of the shirt. On top of all that, it’s also pretty darn environmentally-friendly, made from the equivalent of 16 recycled plastic bottles as the club reinforces its commitment to helping the planet.
A round of applause, indeed.
Honestly, there are tonnes of awesome shirts in the lower leagues this season. Picking through the fan-nominations was difficult enough, but we’ve looked at 100s of other new kits in a bid to pick out the best of the season. Yep, it soon became clear that we just wouldn’t have room for all of them, but we felt that some clubs still deserved a mention.
Let’s start with Woking FC, who have a really nice set of home and away kits from Macron, while Radcliffe FC have a sensational black and gold third kit. It’s great to see Bury AFC arriving in the North West Counties with some decent style, and a special mention has to go to Rushden & Diamonds - who have included the names of fans and created a shirt unlike any other this season.
Erith & Belvedere, Darlington, Blyth Spartans, Rustington FC and Hyde United also have some really nice shirts, and this really is testimony to some of the great design work being down in the lower divisions. No, I’m not going to tell you to buy one in support of your local club, because these awesome shirts say that better than I ever could.
They’re worth every single penny.