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From shirts to programs, fans go crazy for football memorabilia

It’s the last weekend of the FA Cup, meaning the Covid-stricken football season is nearing its end. But any feeling fans are tired of a season that has now lasted almost a year is far away. In fact, there is an explosion of football-related collectibles.

Interest in old programs, shirts and other memorabilia was initially sparked during the 100 days of no football playing as fans went through cold turkey looking for a different type of football fix. And with the stadium’s turnstiles still tightly closed, the trend shows no signs of declining.

Robert Stein, of sports auctioneer Sportingold, says, “It’s incredible – interest has gone through the roof. Lockdown has really increased the love of buying historical collectibles related to football teams.

Everything from shows to shirts – even old tickets can sell for hundreds. And this interest in memorabilia is still increasing. ‘

Glory: The original Jules Rimet Trophy was stolen before the 1966 World Cup started

Glory: The original Jules Rimet Trophy was stolen before the 1966 World Cup started


Modern programs are rarely worth a lot of money – it is the rare old leaflets that attract the most attention from investors.

In June, auction house Sportingold sold an 1891 Royal Arsenal football program for £ 4,000. It was particularly collectible as the team played south of the river in the London suburb of Plumstead during this period – and not north of Highbury.

But it is still a bargain compared to the most expensive program sold. This was an 1882 FA Cup final program between Old Etonians and Blackburn Rovers – just ten years after the first FA Cup final was played – costing £ 35,250 in 2013.

Stein says, “Currently football programs for top teams between the wars are buzzing. You can pay £ 3,000 for a book of Chelsea programs from the 1920s when they hit a few hundred a few years ago.

“Northern club survivors are very rare – so get some good money too. Programs from the 1930s for teams such as Newcastle, Sunderland and Manchester City can sell for £ 200 each. Because of its international appeal, Manchester United programs from this era go up to £ 400. ‘

Until the 1960s, the vast majority of football fans crammed into the stands and only a few paid for a seat and received a ticket.

Stein says, “There are games like the 1945 Stamford Bridge Chelsea, friendly to Dynamo Moscow, where 100,000 fans came to watch – with the vast majority of them.

“Only 3,000 seats were sold that day and survivors can raise £ 750.”

England win World Cup shirt

This is the top that Geoff Hurst wore in the 1966 World Cup final against West Germany. Hurst scored a hat-trick to make England win 4-2 at Wembley. He sold the shirt at £ 91,750 in 2000.

Sheffield FC rulebook

A guide that forms the basis for modern football. It introduced concepts such as free kicks for fouls, allowing players to head the ball, teams to switch sides after half-time and the offside rule.

The oldest surviving FA Cup

This trophy was made for the 1896 final and sold in 2005. It replaced the original stolen in 1895 from the window of a sports store in Birmingham after Aston Villa won. A new FA trophy was made in 1910.

Jules Rimet Trophy replica

The original World Cup was stolen from a public exhibition in England in 1966. Seven days later, it was found in a newspaper in the bottom of a hedge by a dog named Pickles. To prevent further theft, this replica is made to give to winners.


It is those football shirts worn by players in a match that are most sought after as an investment.

Stein says, “Modern tops are particularly valuable because football stars they wore rarely give them away. For example, find a shirt from the early 2000s worn in a match by Arsenal striker Thierry Henry and you will have at least a £ 1,000 collectible if you can prove its origin. ‘

But Gary Bierton, from classic football jersey to classic football jerseys, believes that if such rarity is out of your reach, you might want to consider a modern football shirt made for fans of a particular year – but only if it has great historical significance.

He says, “Nostalgia is the driving force. In the modern era, shirts from the 80s and 90s have a special allure with their imaginative designs at a time when the feeling was that the game was still innocent and not just about money. ‘

One of the most collectible modern shirts is the Liverpool Football Club Summit that was worn in the 1989/90 season when this season’s Premier League Champions Team last won the league. The Adidas top hits £ 350, but originally cost £ 28.

The ultra-rare blue kit for Manchester United, worn in the 1986/87 season, when Sir Alex Ferguson arrived at the club, cost just £ 25 – but now collectors are paying £ 450 for the unusual top.


Football can be a cruel mistress and many top teams from the past have not kept their match-winning form, although they are still collectible.

Founded in 1857, Sheffield Football Club is considered the oldest football club in the world. It initially followed its own ‘Sheffield Rules’ before taking over from the English Football Association in 1877.

Perhaps it should have adhered to this system – with goal posts just four feet apart instead of the modern eight – because unlike the Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday city teams, it is now languishing in the humble Northern Premier League – and even now plays his home games in Derbyshire.

But it still beats all football leagues by investment values. An 1858 Sheffield FC rulebook sold for £ 881,250 in 2011.

Aston Villa defeated West Midlands squad West Bromwich Albion 1-0 in the FA Cup final of 1895. The trophy was displayed in a shop window of sporting goods in Birmingham – from where it was stolen and melted into false half crown coins. Villa was fined £ 25 for allowing the theft and the replacement was sold in 2005 for a record £ 478,400.

Winner medals for players in the modern era are rarely put up for sale, because super-rich, spoiled stars can easily afford to hold on to their memories. But players in earlier eras often sold medals after their careers ended to make ends meet.

The most proud moment in English football is undoubtedly winning the World Cup in 1966. Player Alan Ball – who set up the third goal in the win against West Germany – sold his winner’s medal in 2005 for £ 164,800 to help support his family.

English goalkeeper Gordon Banks sold his winning medal in 2001 for £ 124,700 to help his three children buy their first home. The highest paid Premiership player at the moment is Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea – who reportedly earns £ 375,000 a week for the goal. It would take him about three days’ wages to earn enough to buy one of the two World Cup winning medals.

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