Surprise Shirts - Shirt of the Week - Gimnasia Jujuy 2022 Third
Welcome to the jungle! Your latest shirt of the week comes from northwest Argentina. Gimnasia y Esgrima de Jujuy commonly referred to as GEJ if that’s too wordy for you compete in the Primera B Nacional, Argentina’s second
tier. So let’s take a closer look at their 2022 third shirt and its stunning backdrop.
There has been a trend over recent years for manufacturers to make subtle nods to a team’s geographical heritage when designing new shirts. But Retiel, the Argentine sportswear company that has bestowed this absolute belter upon us have thrown both caution and subtlety to the wind, deciding instead to showcase the beauty of the Jujuy province in all of its glory. A photograph of the Calilegua National Park is stretched across the shirt. The mountainous paradise
is less than two hours away from Gimnasia’s home of San Salvador and incorporating it into this kit serves as a brilliant homage to a club that knows all too well what local success means. Nestled high up in the clouds is the logo of Argentine beer Norte. The first person to send us a picture of them in this shirt, sipping a Norte gets a 25% discount on their next box. Just beneath it
is the manufacturer logo on one side, and the club badge on the other. A white shield with bold, black outlining and a sky-blue strip running across it, if any badge were meant to sit atop a mountain, it’s Gimnasia’s.
Forget your River Plates and Boca Juniors, head off the beaten path toward northern Argentina and you’ll quickly see that Gimnasia de Jujuy are the big boys around here. Founded in 1931 by a group of men ominously known as “The Turks”, they are the most successful club in a region home to nearly 40 teams. Back in the 1930s, Argentine football wasn’t centralized, regional competitions comprised the bulk of the country’s football and local dominance meant national recognition. Gimnasia were certainly dominant, winning 16 provincial titles between the mid-1940s and 1980s, more than any other club.
So in 1986, when the Argentine Football Association sought to federalize football in the country, Gimnasia earned the call-up to represent their region in the newly formed, nationwide second division. Their success didn’t make the journey with them however, and after a poorly managed restructuring of the club, they were relegated after just two years. It wasn’t until back-to-back promotions over a decade later, that GEJ earned the chance to compete in Argentina’s premier division for the first time.
We’re not sure if there is a direct translation for the term “yo-yo club” in Spanish, but Gimnasia embodied the phrase from the mid-90s to the late ’00s, floating between short spells in the first and second division. Since 2009 however, it’s been an unusually stable period for the club which has consolidated its place in the second tier for over a decade. They might not have replicated their local success on the national stage, but the team from Jujuy is one hell of a club to follow. Up, down and everywhere in between, would their 2022 season be as
tumultuous as ever?
Argentina’s second division is brutal, an eyewatering 37 clubs have to battle it out for only two promotion places, one going to the league leaders, and the other handed to whoever can navigate the behemoth 12-team playoff at the end of the season. The man tasked with getting Gimnasia into one of those promotion places was the 6ft 2 and a half inch, former Argentina defender Dario Franco. We can only assume he’s the kind of manager whose bad side you don’t want to see. Luckily for the players, they started the season well enough to avoid it, dipping in and out of the playoff places in the opening weeks.
But things quickly turned sour, a run of eight games without a win in which Franco’s team conceded 13 and scored a measly two goals meant that Gimnasia was perilously close to the relegation zone heading into the midway point of the season. Can you imagine the hairdryer treatment those lads
So when on the 15th of May, Gimnasia welcomed league leaders Belgrano to the Estadio 23 de Agosto, only one result was expected. But after keeping it at 0-0 for a gruelling 83 minutes, Gimnasia bought forward Matias Reali off the bench with just 7 minutes of normal time left to play. 5 minutes later, Reali fired home in front of the Gimnasia fans and earned the boys in blue and white 3 points against a team that would go on to be crowned league champions. He’ll probably never have to buy a Norte in San Salvador again.
That spectacular win proved to be the highlight of GEJ’s league season though, they managed to steady the ship and avoid relegation but couldn’t quite do enough to earn a playoff place. Although an impressive cup run that only ended in the round of 16 against top division side Banfield shows that Franco’s project has the makings of something special. His young side will be hungry to build on
some fine, albeit inconsistent performances next season. So watch out for Gimnasia next year, surely it's time they made it back to the top…
Written by @ZacWelshman1