Fever pitch over pages of history

Click to follow
The Independent Online
They ranged from sports fans to collectors and dealers, united by a common passion: football. Nearly 200 people crammed into Bonhams' West Country branch yesterday in the hope of taking home a slice of football history.

Under the hammer was the largest single collection of football-match programmes yet auctioned, 14,000 of them, spanning more than a century. Soccer enthusiasts travelled to the sale in Honiton, Devon, from all over the country, and from abroad.

The collection included the programme from the first FA Cup Final played at Wembley, the 1923 match in which Bolton beat West Ham 2-0. The rarest of the 572 lots on sale was the single-sheet programme from England's 8-1 win over Ireland in 1884, which was expected to raise up to pounds 1,000.

The collection was accumulated by a fan who began hoarding them in 1947. It grew so large that he kept the programmes in cardboard boxes in rooms all over his house, including the attic and the garage.

He collected programmes from every Cup Final from 1920 to 1982, as well as 900 from matches between the wars. The pre-war Cup Final programmes are regarded as the penny blacks of football memorabilia.