So........why do people start collecting football memorabilia? It's a question I get asked quite a lot and in all honesty I don't have a complicated answer. For me it's really simple, I have always collected something..... It started a long time ago when it was CD's then I moved on to DVD's. I had hundreds in my collection but I enjoyed that simple feeling of collecting. When I moved to Qatar in 2006 I started to collect football memorabilia. I already had a few football pieces by this time but definitely wasn't a collector
In 2006, I started collecting signed football shirts, mainly for Manchester United players, but also from some legends of the game. Being naive to it all, like every new collector I looked on eBay and couldn't believe how cheap some of the 'signed' shirts were. Of course they were fake and I did purchase a couple before realizing just how big the counterfeit world was. Those shirts were quickly disposed of and I ended up only using a couple of very trustworthy sources. Some companies like icons.com to name one are superb for the biggest players. I loved the fact that players would give full, well written signatures with these companies and often they would provide photographic evidence with the Certificate Of Authenticity (COA). Now on the topic of COA's I think I need to explain that they really aren't worth the paper they are written on for a lot of 'companies'. A COA is suppose to prove the signature is real and you have the word of the company selling the item. Often these COA's have no information about how to contact the company, they have the name of the company, what the item is and that's it and yet people seem to think this is a valid COA. I could sit here right now and produce a COA for an item which is fake but again I would be selling it as an item that comes with a COA. I get frustrated as sometimes when I sell a few signed items people ask for a COA and if I say I don't have one they lose interest. I completely understand their issue about wanting proof but a COA really shouldn't be the only question asked by people.
I collected signed shirts for quite sometime but then like a lot of collectors then ventured towards the match worn items. Now for a Manchester United fan this is an expensive hobby. First, I bought a pair of Wayne Rooney and Chicharito match worn boots. Then, I purchased my first match worn shirt and it was also a Chicharito item. It was a 'Poppy' shirt 'worn' v Aston Villa in an away match and it was the pride of my collection. It had all the signs of being match worn and came from a reliable source so I was so so happy. About 9 months later I decided to move the shirt on as I wanted money for some other purchases and sold the shirt to a buyer in the USA. I sent him photographs of the shirt and he was very happy. The shirt arrived a week later and then the bombshell hit!!!!!! The shirt was fake! The sponsors badge on the front of the shirt was European size and not Premiership size meaning the shirt definitely hadn't been worn in a Premier League match. I was devastated, I refunded the buyer and he sent the shirt back. I was gutted and it was at this point I started looking at other collections apart from match worn items. My confidence had been completely knocked by this and I didn't want to ever fall into the trap again.
It was at this time I started to collect football boots, I already had a few limited editions in my collection by this time. I had a pair of Adidas Predator Pulse Ying Yang Boots limited to 723 pairs and a few other pieces but then I started to take it a lot more seriously. I guess what I liked about football boots was they had a very clear value. If the boots were bought at RRP then they would often hold that price as a minimum.
As I started collecting, I was lucky enough to get chatting to a couple of collectors who gave me little bits of advice along the way. A good friend of mine now really helped me out at the start. It was easy I guess as we were never competing for the same boots being that he is a massive Nike geek and to be honest when I started I was looking to collect Adidas Predators. Jorma Seabourne would give me advice about finding a focus for my collection. I had approached boot collecting in the same way as I had other collections and bought lots in a very short space of time. The advice from Jorma made perfect sense, take time and think about exactly what it is I wanted to collect and hit that goal. I decided that Adidas Predator Touch, Accelerator, Precision and Mania would be my main focus as I wanted every colour way these boots had been released in.
It was from here my hobby started and expanded to where it is now. Obviously, in the last few years I have also bought a few more Manchester United Match Worn shirts from sources I trust 100% but it's a very slow process as I want to take my time and make sure I never make the same mistake again.
Since I started collecting boots I have been lucky enough to have had some of the rarest boots pass through my hands. From time to time I have had to sell some rare boots to be able to fund other purchases but then this is part of the fun of collecting. I am a school teacher so have to from time to time sell off parts of my collection in order to be able to buy something new. It's not always been easy to do but every time I have sold something rare, I have been able to make sure something I really want has come into my collection.
One thing I will say is don't get into collecting for the money side of things. Yes, you can make money from this hobby but it's not what it's about. For me it's about enjoying the boots from years gone by as well as seeing the latest technology. It's also about chatting to add in some cases meeting up with fellow collectors. It's great meeting up with people who share your passion for a hobby and also to check out someone else's collection etc.
In short if you're thinking about becoming a collector of anything make sure you follow a few simple rules:
Have a clear idea of what it is you want to collect.
Don't rush in and buy the first things you see. Set a budget for an item and stick to it (if it's a realistic budget)
Seek advice from others that share the same passion. Social media makes contacting people so easy, be polite and ask questions.
Don't get into it for the money
Enjoy the items you collect.