The original colours of the team were dark blue, due to Thames Ironworks chairman Arnold Hills being a former student of Oxford University. However the team used a variety of kits including the claret and sky blue house colours of Thames Ironworks, as well as sky blue or white kit.
The Irons permanently adopted claret and blue for home colours in the summer of 1899. Thames Ironworks right-half Charlie Dove received the Aston Villa kit from his father William Dove, who was a professional sprinter of national repute, as well as being involved with the coaching at Thames Ironworks. Bill Dove had been at a fair in Birmingham, close to Villa Park, the home ground of Aston Villa and was challenged to a race against four Villa players, who wagered money that one of them would win.
Bill Dove defeated them and, when they were unable to pay the bet, one of the Villa players who was responsible for washing the team's kit offered a complete team's 'football kits' to Dove in payment. The Aston Villa player subsequently reported to his club that the kit was 'missing'. This however, is often disputed. The predecessors of Thames Ironworks, Old Castle Swifts FC, played in pale blue shirts, white shorts and claret socks as early as 1892, around the same time Aston Villa played in said same colours.
Thames Ironworks, and later West Ham United, retained the claret yoke/blue sleeves design, but also continued to use their previously favoured colours for their away kits.
Read more about this topic: West Ham United F.C.
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