Kick and collect - the wonderful world of Norwich City football memorabilia
PUBLISHED: 18:47 01 November 2019 | UPDATED: 18:52 01 November 2019
A new book celebrating the glorious football memorabilia that so many of us collected is out just in time for your Christmas list. Nick Richards spoke to authors Derek Hammond and Gary Silke
F ootball really was a whole different ball game 20 years ago as we nose-dived towards the Millennium.
Bradford City, Coventry City, Sheffield Wednesday and Sunderland were in the top flight, Manchester United had just won the treble, the old Wembley was a year from being pulled down and Norwich City were out of the FA Cup by Christmas.
Under Bruce Rioch, Norwich lost 3-1 to Coventry in December and ended the season in 12th place in the second tier, level on points with Tranmere Rovers.
Late 1999 was also the first time I started selling football memorabilia on a new website called eBay - you may have since heard of it.
I'd collected the usual football tat since the mid-1980s - shirts, stickers, scarves and programmes and in the early 1990s began swapping items with pen pals all over Europe.
But in 1999, with rent to pay and a social life to fund, that old stuff laying around doing nothing was first to go.
When a bundle of old football shirts went for more than £100 to someone in Malaysia I was amazed. There was clearly more than just sentimental value in these old football items.
Now I wish I'd kept them which is exactly what authors of The Got, Not Got Football Gift Book, Derek Hammond and Gary Silke did.
The book is a lavish, picture-packed new football nostalgia work - based on a mail-order catalogue from the 20th century.
I told Derek that most of my stuff went on eBay or was just thrown out and he laughs.
"I kept all mine," he said. "Even when I went to university I still had it all with me which was certainly different to most of my friends."
Have a look on eBay now and anything you would have picked up during your years as a football fan is readily available - most of the better stuff was unleashed in a pre-internet world where the only way to pick up football souvenirs was either at your team's club shop or via a mail order catalogue
Split into sections such as Toys & Games, Kit, Tech, Home & Garden, Cards & Stickers and Clobber, the book is guaranteed to whisk football fans of a certain age straight back to their childhood. Back to an age when the latest must-have soccer boots, Subbuteo and primitive electronic games dominated optimistic Christmas lists.
Now it's possible to relive those days, flicking through the Gift Book making mental Biro circles around the most enviable items - and shaking your head in disbelief at some of the gimmicks, styles and player endorsements that somehow never quite caught on.
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Derek and Gary explained the timeless, irresistible draw of football 'stuff' - white plastic boots, Action Man footballer, cards and programmes - from 20, 30, 40 years ago
Derek said: "Part of its appeal is down to the collector urge, which never seems to leave us. Lots of grown men now take the chance to complete their childhood collections via eBay, collector fairs, car-boot sales. It's a primitive urge! You felt it when you were a kid and you can relive it now.
"You get just the same feeling as when you were nine or 10, looking at the expensive toys and the cool vintage shirts that are always just beyond your grasp."
Gary said: "It really does bring out the worst in us. Football. The acquisitive instinct. Flicking through the Gift Book. It's a brilliant nostalgic mixture of greed, envy and lust - just the same heart-pounding emotions as you used to feel looking at the Kays or Grattans or John Noble catalogue Autumn/Winter edition, before Christmas!"
It's an unusual format for a football book, the just-pretend vintage catalogue…
Gary said: "But it's the perfect format to show off all these fantastic collectable items. What could be more fun than poring over all these nostalgic treasures that you used to have, or used to yearn for - and in place of a depressing price tag at the bottom of the page, there's jokes!"
Derek added: "The design of the book is special, not quite what it appears to be. Gary did a great design job with the catalogue look - the little numbers on every page, the text at the bottom, the colour coded contents page and sections.
And the icons for each section are the icing on the cake - they were designed by Norwich-based illustrator Frances Hammond."
The book covers every era from the 60s through to the 90s so clearly has a wide appeal.
Derek said: "Yes, we've got everything from Jimmy Greaves LSD-branded football boots in the 60s, via Georgie Best school shoes in the 70s and club-branded lager in the 80s to Corinthian figures, early computer consoles and Predator boots in the 90s."
Gary added: "The idea is, there's not just something for everybody - there's loads. There's so much hilarious stuff as well as the classic items in every section." So what are their own personal favourite entries?
Derek said: "I love all the 70s petrol freebies in the Travel section. Coins and badges and little plastic busts. And the classic Admiral shirts and Striker team sets. And the breakfast cereal packets are great, with free stuff inside.
"I like free stuff!"
Gary added: "From a Norwich perspective, my favourite item has to be the inflatable Canary from the 80s. And the Martin Peters carpet slippers in the Home & Garden section.
"They're only 23 shillings and sixpence. They'll be going on a lot of Christmas lists this year!"
The Got, Not Got Football Gift Book by Derek Hammond & Gary Silke (Conker Editions, £16.00). Available from Amazon, eBay and all good bookshops. Buy it direct from the publisher and get a free set of 'Stars of the '70s football cards!