Football Focus: 5 football collectables that left collectors champions!

Get with the programme!

Football’s back! As the new season kicks-off, it could be time for a heads-up on those old match programme gathering dust in the cupboard. They could be worth more than a bob or two.

The market in rare match programmes and unusual footballing memorabilia is vibrant, even outside the football season.

A few years ago, a family from Ipswich managed to make around £46,000 auctioning off a set of football programmes they had stumbled across at home. It really is worth going into extra time to rummage around.

No messing: Eton paid £35k for historic souvenir

In 2013 an 1882 souvenir programme of an Old Etonians vs Blackburn Rovers FA Cup Final fell out a job lot box of old papers found in Sussex.

It was expected to sell for £10,000 but ultimately netted £35,250.  At the time, The Daily Mirror reported that Eton College had successfully bid for the programme to put in the school’s museum. For Old Etonians, it must have seemed like a bargain.

That figure surpassed the sale of a Manchester United versus Bristol City 1909 FA Cup final programme sold for £23,500 the year before.

A 1924 Aston Villa v Newcastle FA Cup Final programme did reach £2,100 at auction. The story goes that it rained so heavily during the match and there was so little cover for the Wembley crowd, many people used the programmes as umbrellas. The result was that very few survived the torrent so they are very rare.

‘Busby Babes’ programmes are so revered

A Manchester United match programme, featuring the ill-fated Busby Babes sold at auction for £1,500. It was an official programme for the European Cup away leg against Red Star Belgrade in 1958. On the fateful flight home, 23 people lost their lives, including eight United players, when their aircraft crashed on take-off at Munich airport.

The programme’s cover features an image of the United team, including Tommy Taylor, Billy Whelan and Eddie Colman who all died in the disaster.

The fascination with the Busby Babes is a real indicator of value. In October 2018 a programme from 1957, the year before the tragedy, when United played Wrexham in an FA Cup tie, sold for £650.

It was signed by Matt Busby and seven of the players.

These were exceptional prices but more recent match programmes can attract quite healthy numbers too, provided they are in excellent condition or especially if there is a back-story to them.

Nice one Stan!

Another top seller at a sporting auction recently was a 1953 FA Cup Final leather football, used when Blackpool beat Bolton 4-3. This is remembered as the Stanley Matthews Cup Final, when the legendary winger put on a scintillating performance for the Wembley crowd, almost winning the Cup single-footed. It sold for £5,250.

The day Pele sold off his glory medals

Perhaps the most famous sale of footballing treasure was the one auction in London in 2016. It was held to off-load more than 2,000 items of personal memorabilia acquired by Pele during his fabulous career. Brazilian player Pele is reckoned by many, to be the greatest player to ever play the game.


His personal replica of the World Cup (Jules Rimet) trophy fetched £320,000 which was bought by a Swiss watch making company.

Two of the Brazil legend’s three World Cup winners’ medals also went under the hammer at Sotheby’s, for a combined figure of £400,000 – well ahead of their estimated price.

Pele, now 79, once starred in a movie with Michael Caine and Sylvestor Stallone. Escape To Victory was about a fictitious war-time football match between prisoners of war and their guards. The boots Pele wore in the film, netted a cool £10,000.

Some of the Pele sale proceeds went to help fund the largest children’s hospital in Brazil, which Pele said was close to his heart.

The Beckham connection

Huge amounts of money have flowed into football with TV rights and along with it the top players have achieved fame and fortune. Some have created their own brand value. Brand Beckham is perhaps the best example with a vast array of signed shirts, fashion goods, cosmetics, programmes, photographs, and football equipment selling world-wide.

David Beckham is especially popular in the USA with high volume signed artefacts selling for four figure sums.

But football stars come and go and collectors ought to ask the question, will these mass-produced items retain true value over the next few decades?

Other star players, as yet unborn, will take to the pitch and thrill the crowds and grab attention. Time will tell.

Fancy owning your own football collectable? Check out our genuine hand-signed photographs of some iconic Football legends including David Seaman, Roger Hunt and Gordon Banks.

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