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Sunday, 3 March 2013

The Tao of collecting. Not so much a philosphy as a way of life.

Why would I buy this? Apart for it's St Mirrenish magnificence
It is a function of the human condition to have self awareness and wonder who we are and why things are the way they are. For example I'm sure if dogs had self awareness and wondered why the bit their own arses they'd stop doing it. In this spirit of self awareness and introspection I have often wondered why do I collect these damned football shirts and what's wrong with the rest of the world who don't seem to be fascinated by them. 

I don't honestly know why I collect them and test the patience of her indoors as the spare room slowly fills up with obscure Chilean second division away shirts. I don't for instance have a clearly defined parameter for my collection unlike Canadian collector Eric Kay and his project to get a shirt from each national team in the world. You can see some of his shirts on his site here. You will be able to see even more of his disturbingly rare and obscure national shirts when he gets his finger out and gets them onto his site, I can't imagine there's anything else to do during the long Ontario winters. Another of my collecting friends, Anton Sorokin from Russia, seems to have specialised somewhat into more vintage shirts in recent years and is building up a very impressive collection. You can see his shirts here. In comparison my collection seems to be utterly random and scatter gun with everything from matchworn Indonesian league shirts to the mighty Ayr Boswell Boys Club. I've always just picked up shirts because I like the look of them or they are so bizarre as to be difficult to look at or have a historical significance. Some of the are just plain all time greats that any self respecting collector just has to have.

What possessed me? The most boring shirt in the world.
Over the years I've had specific shirts I've been after like Penarol, Santos and the 1998 Mexico shirt but these have always been individual bits and bobs and there's never been a larger subset I've been looking to fill. Until now that is. I recently noticed that I am only a few shirts away from having at least one from every league team in England and Scotland* and am now setting my sights on ticking the last few off the list. It's a new experience for the otherwise unfocused collector like myself. To complete the whole Scottish league (until league reconstruction or similar moves the goalposts) I only need an Annan Athletic shirt. I suspect I'll need to get one of those directly from the good folks at Galabank given Annan's rather small commercial footprint. At the time of writing this (assuming the couple I've just paid for on Ebay appear) to fill in the English leagues I need to find Crawley Town, Fleetwood Town and York City. Obviously that is until the end of the season but I have a fair chunk of the teams in the upper echelons of the non-league pyramid so as long as bloody Dartford or Braintree don't get promoted to League 2 (or the Fourth Division as it was known in Old Money) I should be OK.
Danger! Retinal Damage. Safety goggles must be worn.

Once I polish off the UK (with the exception of League of Wales and the Northern Irish league although I have a respectable cross section of those Celtic leagues) I think I'll look at the Brazilian Serie A and B although they're nearly complete already thanks in small part to my friend Bira in Sao Paulo who supplies the finest South American exports which are legal. Then maybe the MLS, who knows That's all in the future though, first I have to find an Annan Athletic shirt...

*There are a couple of Scottish clubs which I don't have in the collection and will not have. I won't mention them but they're focal points for very nasty politics and frankly medieval prejudices and they both do very well out of it thank you very much. They aren't the cause of the social issues they revel in but they do practically nothing to counter it and the perpetuation of it seems to work for them. A pox on both their houses.

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