Fan turns his passion for old football programmes into a business
- Credit: Submitted
A self-confessed 'bit of a hoarder', lifelong football fan Stewart Hallam has turned his 40-year passion for collecting memorabilia into a burgeoning 'auction' business - and all in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
It's meant an extension to his garage near Paignton and a willingness to go the extra mile - hundreds of them, in fact - to track down those valuable 'gems' that other collectors just must have.
Programme, memorabilia and autograph collecting is steeped in the history of the game, and it's also big business.
At Hallam's first 'sale', a 1924 FA Cup Final programme fetched £5,250. He recently turned down £10,000 for a Manchester United programme - a 'friendly' at that!
Yet he remains a purist at heart, someone who rarely sells any of his own prized pieces, but does so for others, via regular online auctions.
Stewart, who was a stalwart figure at Galmpton United for many years , explained: "Manchester United is my main passion, and Second World War football.
"But I also have every FA Cup Final programme from 1923 (the first Wembley final) onwards and every Torquay United programme from 1950-2020.
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"It got to the stage where my wife was insisting that I got rid of some of it.
"I'd been collecting and doing (autograph) signings for about eight years, I'd semi-retired from the roofing business and then the 'lockdown' came along.
"It seemed like a good time to do something a bit more serious with it.
"So I decided to turn my garage extension into an 'auction site'."
Hallam has persuaded many star names, including the late Jack Charlton and Gordon Banks, Bryan Robson and Gordon Strachan, to do signing sessions for him.
And he recalls: "On a holiday in Menorca, I tracked down ex-Man Utd player Brian Greenhoff to a cafe on the island, and we spent four hours reminiscing together as he signed autographs for me.
"Sadly, Brian returned to England a few months later and died at only 60."
Stewart's site is at www.wembley23.com, business is brisk and his next auction is planned for the middle of next month.