Worst To First: Ranking the L1O 2023 Home Jerseys
Earlier this year, Northern Tribune took a look at all eight home kits in League1 BC and ranked them from worst to first.
Needless to say, it drew a little bit of ire from certain fan bases (sorry again to all the TSS Rovers fans)…
Seeing the popularity of that L1BC article, we’d like to deep dive into all 21 of the League1 Ontario home kits, once again, from worst to first!
For this list, teams who have not explicitly announced one kit to be their home jersey, the one worn most often at their stadium will be used. Furthermore, any teams who have two different home strips, the one that is more interesting/detailed will be used (looking at you, Darby and Prostars).
Finally, Pickering FC will not be included in this list due to their absence from the 2023 L1O season.
So without further ado, let’s rank us some jerseys!
21) Alliance United FC
Well, it sure is a jersey… Alliance’s 2023 kit reminds me a lot of the Victoria Highlanders’ home kit: white body with minimal black accents and not a lot going on. As I wrote in my review of the Highlanders kit, “it seems like the club needed to get something quick in preparation for the 2023 season… and told Macron to just slap their logo on it.”
It’s so unfortunate too because their orange away kit really stands out and with arguably the best colour palette in the league, there’s so much promise here, but it’s squandered.
20) Unionville Milliken SC
Much like Alliance United, there is so much potential here, but the ball is dropped hard. With teams like Arsenal, TFC, and the Peruvian National squad all currently outfitted by Adidas, the manufacturer would know how to make a red-white-black kit look good, but here, it’s just a red shirt.
19) Scrosoppi FC
When Scrosoppi first entered L1O in 2021, their original logo received some levels of criticism as it resembled a logo someone would create for a FIFA Ultimate Team squad if they just got access to Photoshop. But despite their subpar logo, their 2021 and 2022 kits were incredible.
But following their purchase of the Portuguese side, SC Vianese, a branding unification between the two teams occurred which gave Scrosoppi a new logo, one reminiscent of a classic European crest. Sadly with the sleek new crest, the club lost all its jersey identity. The only reason this one isn’t lower is due to the collar and the way their crest looks on the all-black background.
18) Blue Devils FC
The Boys in blue. Navy blue in fact! There’s not a lot going on with this jersey if I am being completely honest, but the navy blue with white trim raises it above the other three so far. They could have done more with it, but something about that colour mixed with their fantastic crest – and their five championship stars are just really clean.
17) Vaughan Azzurri SC
Not much to say here. A relatively basic kit, but what puts it above the Blue Devils’ is the nicely paired front sponsor as the red-white Toyota logo doesn’t look out of place with the navy background and red shouldering.
16) Sigma FC
Sigma has quite the storied history as one of the most prestigious clubs and academies in the province. They boast having once been home to the likes of Forge FC Head Coach Bobby Smyrniotis – who founded the academy alongside his brother – and Canadian nationals Tajon Buchanan, Cyle Larin, and Richie Laryea.
I guess they spent all their money on player development and not on merchandise design as their strip is quite basic. The only reason I have ranked it even this high is due to the fact that the blue and grey shoulders and accents remind me of the 501st Clone Trooper Legion from Star Wars, and I am a massive Star Wars fan. So points by association, I guess!
15) Master’s FA
So there are two things about this kit that stick out to me. The first is the thing I hate about the Master’s FA branding at large, and that is the fact that this club has adopted red as their primary colour. Their crest is blue, while their club name, “The Saints”, is tacked on in red at the bottom. That red is then adopted as the club’s colour, which just doesn’t sit right with me as that beautiful shade of Master’s blue is totally avoided.
On the other hand though, those sleeves are something else! Yes, they are probably a part of a Macron stock design that is simply being used for the Master’s kits, but they still look incredibly snazzy, which definitely gives it points. Add on a sponsor’s logo which looks right at home and you got yourself a top-15 kit!
14) Burlington SC
Yellow and blue always work well. That’s it. That’s my justification.
Ok fine, I’ll add some more details…
Now could more have been asked for from Adidas? Yes, for sure, especially seeing what L1BC’s Varsity FC did last season with the same manufacturer and colour scheme, but it is hard to mess up with these two sharp colours, and Burlington doesn’t really disappoint!
13) Hamilton United
Hamilton United’s rebrand this season – which saw them go from the yellow-black colour scheme synonymous with their city to the orange and grey of their new parent club, Forge FC – has done them wonders. Although I am the furthest thing from a Forge FC fan, I must admit that their colours and just how well the orange and grey work together have made a home for themselves in my heart.
Could they have done more with this shirt? Yes, absolutely. Do I expect more from them next season? Yes, absolutely. However I think the current template they have is a good foundation for future seasons, and I look forward to seeing what they throw together, especially now that they have access to Forge’s design team.
12) BVB IA Waterloo
🎶 Yeah, uh-huh, you know what it is
Black and yellow
Black and yellow
Black and yellow
Black and yellow 🎶
Ok so yes, maybe it was a cliche for me to start this section with Wiz Khalifa’s ‘Black And Yellow’, but can you really blame me when Borussia Dortmund is involved?
The rebrand for Waterloo’s L1 side from Waterloo United to BVB IA was a contentious one which saw some Waterloo supporters denounce the affiliation program. However, this rebrand did bring with it some beautiful kits for the Waterloo side. While they aren’t unique, Dortmund does have a history of nice shirts and this year’s slate by Puma are no different!
11) Woodbridge Strikers SC
They’re nothing too special about Woodbridge’s kit except that It just looks clean. The tri-colour hoops of red, white, and black look exceptional on the blue background and the little detail in the collar is a nice touch too.
I would like to have a crack at re-designing this jersey, but since I am only a lowly writer, I will just admire this 11th place finisher from afar!
10) Windsor City FC
Windsor’s L1O side was a club that underwent a total rebrand – name, logo, and all – this past off season, and has it ever helped them enormously. League1 Ontario’s southernmost squad saw them adopt a new crest and new kits for 2023 and both are extremely sharp.
Admittedly, I do prefer the club’s white pinstripe away kit – with a LiUNA! sponsorship that both looks good and ties in well with the city’s labour history – but the red with black pinstripes does still look stellar. The deep red hue also allows for the predominantly-grey logo to stand out very well, drawing eyes to Windsor’s new identity.
9) FC London
The gun-metal grey that FC London sport on their home kit is something to behold. It is so bold and meshes so well with the red of the sleeves and of their crest which is one of the nicest crests in all of Canadian soccer.
As a jersey collector, it makes me sad that this kit is not available for purchase at FC London’s online store – a store that is promoted on their website but whose link is broken and leads to a 404 error. Either way though, this kit is really nice and looks great on the pitch!
8) Simcoe County Rovers
Honestly, Julian De Guzman’s club should be higher on this list. They really should! This is a club with one of the strongest identities, largest community following, and most professional marketing campaign. And yet when they revealed their 2023 home and away kits to a sold out crowd at a local brewery in Barrie, the home kit reminded me more of lined writing paper from grade school than it did a proper soccer jersey.
The club has also now treaded into murky waters with the Bet99 sponsorship on the front, adding to the important yet divisive conversation about single game sports betting and its advertising.
I have it in my top ten cause it is unique, but their jersey from 2022 was better by miles, mostly because larger bands/waves/hoops that were a more direct link to the Barrie city coat of arms. Ultimately, this jersey is one of the few unique, standout designs in L1O and for that, it deserves a place in the top 10, however reluctantly I put it there.
7) Prostars FC
Prostars is, as I mentioned at the start of this article, one of those teams which have two different kits for their men’s and women’s teams, and their place in this list is saved by their women’s kit.
The single stripe down the middle of the shirt with a digital/pixilated fade away on either side is such a nice touch. It isn’t a complex or intricate design, but it doesn’t have to be. The white and blue work well together and no element is too overpowering, so the whole kit balances well with the other elements.
6) St Catherine’s Roma Wolves
SCRW decided to keep their kit classy, simple, and stylish and they nailed all these criterions. There is so much history behind the branding of Italy’s AS Roma which St. Catherines have adopted that they needed to walk a fine line between being their own club with their own style while also respecting their roots.
In my opinion, they killed it.
The mix of garnet with the yellow/gold trims on the collar and sleeves just looks so nice together. Their circular crest – although perhaps a tad oversized – makes them instantly distinguishable from AS Roma. To top it all off, the cursive script of their front jersey sponsor is right at home on a kit that screams class, prestige, and elegance.
5) Darby FC
Like Prostars, Darby FC features two different sets of kits for the men’s and women’s squads, and I honestly much prefer the women’s pairing. In some conversations I have had with friends about L1O jerseys, one of them pointed out that the home kit for Darby’s women’s side looks like one of the preset jersey options for someone’s ‘Create-A-Team’ in a FIFA video game.
But that’s sort of what I like about it. It’s simple and doesn’t overstay it’s welcome. Some may try and claim a ‘gotcha’ moment here as I put the TSS Rovers low in my L1BC jersey rankings despite them having a similar design to Darby, but to them I’ll say that here, the blue/black works so much better than the black/grey of the Rovers.
I don’t know, this jersey just does it for me!
4) North Toronto Nitros
When the Nitros revealed their 2023 slate of kits back in March, the response was unanimous: these shirts are nice! The trio of green-white-black work so well together and the white body provides a good base for any sponsor logo to work well with it.
It is unfortunate that these kits are not available for sale to the general public as I am sure North Toronto fans would buy these and the Nitros’ away kits up like hot cakes!
3) North Mississauga SC
The Panthers absolutely killed it this year with their 2023 home and away kits. I found that although the ideas were similar, last years jerseys were a tad too busy with too many ‘scratch marks’ on them.
This year’s jerseys feature a single black bar on a red background with three large scratches down a diagonal like a sash, a design popular in soccer jerseys. The single bar down the middle is taken right from the club’s logo and much like how the scratch marks go across the jersey left to right, the panther on the crest does the same thing.
The crest imitates the jersey and the jersey imitates the crest. Sometimes beauty lies in simplicity and these kits exemplify that through beauty and ferocity, much like the panther itself.
2) Guelph United FC / Guelph Union
Story time: Once upon a time, I was the Head of Merchandise and the Team Administrator for Guelph United and in that role, I was tasked with designing the jerseys for their inaugural campaign. A collaborative effort brought to life the strips the club wore for their championship-winning season and I was forever proud that my work made it on to the national stage with that club.
2023 sees the now-united Guelph United and Guelph Union under one ownership group and thus with new kits, and I have got to say I love that they have done. While the inverted logo is still growing on me, the offset stripe of gold/red down the middle, divided by a thin white stripe and a sharp Graham Construction logo just looks spectacular.
So while a part of me is sad that a jersey I designed has been retired, I know that Guelph jerseys, present and future, are in good hands!
1) Electric City FC
As I write this, I have my own ECFC kit in front of me so I don’t miss any of the small details hidden in the fabric.
Macron absolutely nailed the design and fabrication of these shirts. First and foremost, the lightning bolt that cuts across the torso like a knife in butter. It is the first thing you notice when looking at this kit and it makes it an immediate head-turner. Secondly, hidden within the bolt and on the right sleeve is a map of Peterborough from 1878, with all the original markings, street names, and lot numbers. This club – one who has a whole page on their website dedicated to the history of soccer in the Electric City – is really appealing to the history degree I have hanging on my wall. Finally the black background provides a nice contrast for the yellow crest that is already a sight to behold due to its unorthodox shape and design.
These were Electric City’s first ever jerseys and if this is their first kick at the can, I cannot wait to see what they come up with in the future as this club grows.
So this has been quite the trek through all 21 of League1 Ontario’s home kits for the 2023 season. Feel free to Tweet us your thoughts at @northtribune and tell us what your top three are!
The 2023 League1 Ontario season started on April 12th with a two-two draw between the reigning champions Vaughan Azzurri and the North Toronto Nitros. The women’s season will end on July 23rd while their male counterparts will play until August 20th; both regular seasons will be followed by the L1O playoffs to determine the 2023 men’s and women’s champions. You can follow along with your favourite teams on the League1 Ontario YouTube channel.