There are certain key questions in football that just beg to be answered. Just how did Johan Cruyff come up with ‘that ‘ turn, was the ball really over the line in 1966 and how did sports brand Umbro get its name?
Well, OK, perhaps the latter isn’t exactly a burning issue, but nonetheless Footy Boots has been investigating the history of the Umbro brand from its humble beginnings to being a founding partner of the new Wembley Stadium.
Umbro’s rise to becoming a global player in sport began in 1920 in Wilmslow, Cheshire with the opening of Humphrey Brothers Clothing. The company traded for four years until some bright spark (nowadays no doubt called a marketing consultant on a highly inflated daily rate) came up with the name Umbro by taking the UM from Humphreys and BRO from Brothers. Ever since they have been associated with some of the greatest national and international sides.
In their early days however, they were more concerned with manufacturing PT kit for the armed forces and by 1930, business was so good both at home and abroad that Umbro developed 10,000 square feet of new warehouse space at its Wilmslow base and built a brand new factory in Macclesfield.
In 1934 and 1935, Umbro celebrated national success in association with FA Cup winners Manchester City and Sheffield Wednesday.
Come the outbreak of the Second World War, Umbro simply moved from sportswear production to army clothing whilst also taking a hand in producing internal fittings for Lancaster bombers. As peace was reached across Europe, yet another new factory was commissioned, this time in Stockport.
But it was in the late 50’s and 60’s when Umbro really started to make its mark on the world market. In 1958 Brazil wore Umbro kit as they won the World Cup, a feat they repeated 4 years later. Then at the ’66 competition, an astonishing 15 out of the 16 competing nations, including hosts and winners England, wore the Umbro brand. The World Cup success story continued as Brazil won again in 1970.
Indeed, Umbro’s association with Brazil was enhanced in 1985 when their football boots were sold there for the first time. Just two years later, and those same boots were actually being manufactured in the South American country. Since then, some of the world’s greatest players have worn Umbro boots including Roberto Carlos, Alan Shearer (now an ambassador for the company) and the 2001 European player of the year and then SX Flare football boot wearer Michael Owen.
The company, now based in Cheadle, celebrated 80 years of football history in 2004 before in 2007, agreeing to be bought by Nike for £285 million. The brand name however is still strongly linked with the Football Association and Umbro continues as the official sports manufacturer of the FA Cup and is an official sponsor of the new Wembley Stadium.
Key Umbro dates in history
1920 – Harold C.Humphrey’s starts a small workshop in Wilmslow, Cheshire
1924 – Humphrey Brothers becomes Umbro
1934 – Manchester City win the FA Cup Final in Umbro
1935 – Sheffield Wednesday follow the success of Manchester City in Umbro
1958 – Brazil wins the World Cup wearing Umbro
1962 – Brazil wins the World Cup wearing Umbro
1966 – 15 out of the 16 participating teams wear Umbro
1966 – England win the World Cup wearing Umbro
1970 – Brazil wins the World Cup in Umbro
1985 – First Umbro boot introduced in Brazil
1987 – First Umbro boot manufactured in Brazil
1994 – Brazil wins the World Cup in Umbro
1999 – Renaissance of UMBRO – new ownership, new vision “Umbro The Football Authority”
1999 – Manchester United wins the treble in Umbro
2000 – Umbro introduces revolutionary new Sportswool material
2000 – Launch of XAI football boot technology
2001 – Michael Owen wins European Footballer of the Year
2002 – Umbro sign a new contract with The English FA extending the relationship until 2010.
2002 – Umbro develops the first reversible jersey for an international team.
2004 – Umbro celebrate 80 years of footballing history
2007 – Wembley Stadium re-opens with Umbro as a founding partner