The House of Bukta

by Andy Bird

Bukta Sportswear was formed in 1878 by a Manc called Edward Buck(and his sons), Nottm Forest were the first team to take the plunge and wear their kit in 1884 and  throughout the 1930’s they supplied kits to the majority of Division 1 sides, and, shit a brick…. Ajax even wore Bukta winning those European Cups in 1971/72/73. But that seems like another universe to the Bukta I know and love/hate.

 

Christmas Day of 1977 will be indelibly burned on my memory for ever, for one reason and one reason only. Me big present that day came in a stark unbranded sky blue cardboard box, I had a hunch what it was as soon as I saw it, and the shiver of excitement that run through my body as I opened it and I clocked that bright yellow and green Bukta Newcastle away shirt, like me Farmer Giles, and the dark haired bird out of Tight Fit, will stay with me forever, (although I later learned to my disappointment that this was just static electricity off the nylon/Poly, cos I lit up lamp posts as I ran past them in the front street), and as I ate me Sugar Puffs that morning, strangely, they seemed to be snap, crackling and popping more than usual, but again that was just the shirt reacting badly with the cereal.

 

These were the days when you had to order your teams strip, no mega-stores selling replica shirts by the tens of thousands to Ho Chi Wang in Tan Kon Woo, before shirts became just another excuse to fleece supporters, before blatant commercialism took hold, well not at Newcastle anyway (a porta-cabin ran by the infamous geriatric Stepford Wives in Prudhoe St is all we had), but THIS was the season kits got all fancy Dan, Ipswich, Forest and Liverpool were tearing up Europe in slinky little adidas and Umbro numbers, Coventry and Wales had THAT Admiral kit, and errr...Newcastle went Bukt-astic. Gone were the days of towelling cotton, baggy saggy crew necks (my old 'no logo' black and white shirt with a grey felt number 9 on the back was history), our new kit had a distorted pigeon sewn 15 times down the arm, a collar that looked like the top of a tomato, a new badge ironed on with a Magpie with murderers eyes, that looked like he'd been on the gear for a week, this was sexy sexy stuff, or so it seemed at the time (I was 8 mind).

   

This was also the season (didn't know it at Christmas, I don't know why, cos we were total kaka) that Newcastle would eventually be relegated to their spiritual home, the second division, also the season we became a laughing stock of the old first, and also the first season I started going to the match proper, these things are all linked, and the thread that holds them all together is...Bukta.

 

The hex doesn't end there, the minute I heard Souness had been appointed as our new manager last summer?...I blame Bukta. Collymore getting that winner at Anfield?....Bukta. All those failed cup finals where we didn't turn up?...Bukta. Selling Gasgoine, Waddle and Beardsley for buttons?....Bukta. St.James Pk being turned into Castle Greyskull?...Bukta. Being every paid up member of the 'new fans elite' 'favourite other team'?...Bukta. Newcastle never winning a single proper trophy in my life?...Bukta.

 

Look at the fortunes of the other clubs who wore Bukta trim back in the late 70's (from memory) I can think of Charlton, Millwall, Brighton, Sheff Wed(in the old 3rd) Hibernian, Chesterfield and erm...Blyth Spartans. Hardly blue chip is it? Laughably, Newcastle were the jewel in the crown. And we all seemed to share the same designs, no bespoke here, oh no, Newcastle's home and away kit was also Brighton's and Blyth's, only with green instead of blue trim, and blue instead of black stripes, our 3rd(oh yes we had a 3rd) strip was Millwalls home kit with a Toon badge stuck on and Blyths Spartans was a green version of our home kit. Thinking back the only real success I can think of any team wearing Bukta trim-style kits ever had apart from 'Spartans '78 cup run is Brighton getting promoted to the first out of the second in that same season....and guess which ground they clinched their promotion on the last day of the season with a 3-1 win????? Well let's put it this way, I was there to witness it.

 

Bukta seemed to fizzle out in the eighties, Newcastle moved on to Umbro in 1980 with very little improvement in fortunes, it took Arthur Cox(he’s got the pox) to sort that out...they resurfaced (again from memory) in the mid nineties making West Ham's strip, this coincided with relegation and them signing Marco Boogers, Ian Dowie and Dani.....say no more.

 

But from that cold Christmas morning in 77, fast forward 26 years, I'm sitting in a taxi on the way out of Brescia airport to watch Newcastle lose at Juventus(pinching mesell), we drive past a centre for African immigrants on the outskirts of the city, the dapper, but racist loon driving starts holding his nose and making derogatory noises to me and me mates, currying favour, or so the little shit thinks, he then turns to me and goes 'Kappa, Fila, Diadora, Gucci, Armani...we 'ave everything in Italia, we make all the football kits and-av-a the fashion, you know this?'.....and then I turns to him smugly and goes… Aye pal, but have you ever heard of Bukta?