Get (with) the programme – footie fans gather for new year fair

By Theron Mohamed

Sports programmes displayed on table.

21 specialist dealers showcased thousands of sports programmes, cards, badges and books at the Royal National Hotel in Bloomsbury. Photo: Theron Mohamed.

Hundreds of sports enthusiasts attended the 35th annual Giant New Year Programme Fair in London today (Sunday 8 January). 21 specialist dealers showcased thousands of sports programmes, cards, badges and books at the Royal National Hotel in Bloomsbury. Prices ranged from 20p to £2800 for an 1897 Queens Park Rangers v Burton Swifts match programme. Martin Corrie, 62, from London, is the event organiser. He said: “We are providing a service to collectors of all ages, helping them to fill gaps in their collections. The beauty of an event like this, compared to online sellers, is that people can see and hold items in their hands before buying them.” 

Sporting memorabilia can be extremely valuable: a programme from the 1924 F.A. Cup final between Newcastle United and Aston Villa was auctioned for £7,500. Rainy conditions on the day mean that very few undamaged programmes exist.

71-year-old Michael Broadley, from Stoke Poges, is representing Sportingold, a company that auctions sports merchandise. The most expensive item on display is a match card from an 1884 F.A. Cup match between Nottingham Forest and Swifts, on sale for £1,300. He said:

“The London programme fairs are very popular; they’re easy to get to by bus or tube, you don’t need to own a car. Buyers come from all over, we had an Italian fly in today to pick up an item he won in our December auction.”

Portsmouth-born Will Priddy, 70, has collected football cards and programmes as a hobby since childhood. He’s now looking to sell them. He said:

“The New Year event is a good one – you can chat to like-minded people, and have a bit of banter with the other sellers.”

Brian White, 49, a part-time telemarketer from Romford, has already bought an Arsenal v Stoke 1972 FA cup semi-final programme. He said:

“I began collecting football programmes when I was 14; I now have more than 15,000. International fairs like this one are really useful for people looking to fill gaps in their collection.”

The Premier Programme Fair, which promises more than 30 dealers, will be held on Saturday 2 June 2012. Royal National Hotel, Bedford Way, London WC1H 0DG

Theron Mohamed is a freelance journalist who writes about food, culture and events in London. His profile is visible at zeitlife.co.uk

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