Top 5 Football Finds at Carboot Sales

The most popular parts of popular culture produces piles of popular tat and because football is incredibly popular carboot sales and charity shops are awash with football related junk. Much of the stuff that is produced to cash in on this popularity; replica shirts, football biographies, football quiz books, club branded ephemera, t-shirts, scarves, socks and so on is rubbish. As such I’ve found that there is very little money in buying and selling football stuff at carboots. I’m not an expert in the field, and I’m sure people do make a profit in certain niche areas (signed shirts and pictures can go for a lot) but I’ve found that even stuff like most old Panini stickers and albums and vintage Subbuteo teams and sets are not really worth the bother of listing on Ebay (I know there are exceptions to this – especially with Panini stuff but you do really need to know what you’re looking for. And I don’t).

A couple of years back at a yard sale I bought a huge job-lot of old Man United football programmes from the 1960s and 70s. They included a programme for the 1968 European Cup Final against Benfica. I though this would go for a small fortune but you can find them in fairly good nick for a couple of quid on Ebay. And as for a Man Utd vs QPR programme from 1975, for example, – well that’s pretty worthless.

So the football stuff I tend to buy at carboots and charity shops isn’t bought to try and make a profit – it’s just stuff that makes me laugh – or stuff that I find odd.

So here is my Top 5 Recent Daft Football Finds

Number 5.

A Shot At Glory DVD

All fictional films about football are terrible and thie film A Shot At Glory is no different. It is the story of team in the Highlands League who have to win the Scottish Cup to survive. They are helped in this struggle by having a wily old manager played by Robert Duvall. In the film Duvall puts on a weird Scottish accent which is part Sir Alex Ferguson and part Groundskeeper Willie. The team are also helped by having the famous actor Ally McCoist (who plays Duvall’s estranged son-in-law) playing a troubled alcoholic player trying to rebuild his career.

A Shot At Glory Trailer

The film is cliche ridden drivel – but it is odd, and much like the equally odd football film Escape To Victory, it’s the the oddness that makes it watchable. I enjoyed it – it made me laugh – and what more can you ask for than that from a film I paid 50p for at a carboot.

(Also if you do see a copy at a carboot for anything less than a quid you’ll make about a fiver profit if you buy it and then flog it at Amazon. There is some demand for copies)

Number 4.

Oliver Kahn Action Figure

The second carboot, or flea market as they are known in Germany, that I visited in Munich where I now live, was in the carpark of the Olympic Stadium which is the stadium where Germany beat Holland in the 1974 World Cup Final and where Bayern Munich played before they moved to the Allianz Arena. And it was there that I found this Oliver Kahn action figure (in his Bayern Munich strip). It’s daft but I’m very fond of it and it now sits in my office on my shelf of action figures alongside my Ozzy Osborne action figure, my Elvis Presley action figure and my Snake Plissken action figure.

Number 3.

Football Programmes

The aforementioned job-lot of programmes I bought at a yard sale were pretty much sold on as a joblot for the same price as I bought them. However despite their having no great commercial value they were packed with the sort of random images and details which I cannot help but distract myself with.

This is just one example taken from the programme for the Arsenal vs Man Utd match in the 1976-77 season.

Arsenal Players Playing Cards
Arsenal Players Playing Cards

What we have here are 2 photos of some players playing cards on the team bus. (For some reason the 2 photos are laid out to look like the players are sitting around the same table – if they were then the Arsenal bus for the 76-77 season was an L shaped bendy bus). The players are Alan Ball, Malcolm MacDonald and Jimmy Rimmer (who looks like he has been taken to the cleaners by MacDonald. I’m not sure who the 4th player is – is it Sammy Nelson?

It’s the detail that gets me. The biscuits on the Arsenal team coach in the 1970s were digestives. Do they still serve Digestives on the Arsenal team coach? Does Ozil and Sánchez care for them?

Number 2.

Admiral Kit Man: All for the Shirt by Bert Patrick

Admiral Kit man by Bert Patrick
Admiral Kit man by Bert Patrick

I picked up the book “All For The Shirt” up in a charity shop in Leicester. It’s the story of the clothing company Admiral and it’s transformation from being an underwear manufacturing company in Wigston Magna, Leicestershire, into a company that pretty much reinvented the football kit industry in the 1970s. It’s not the greatest book I’ve ever read about football (that would be one of the following: Das Reboot: How German Football Reinvented Itself and Conquered the World, Brilliant Orange: The Neurotic Genius of Dutch Football or The Miracle Of Castel Di Sangro) but it’s an interesting enough read about the origins of the commercial side of the game.

What I like about the book are the photos – of the various 70s teams in their Admiral kits – including the iconic yellow Leeds away kit which was, I think, where the idea of producing a shirt to be sold to the fans was born.

The picture I love most in the book is this promotional photo of a couple in the early 80s sporting the Admiral England shirt as casual leisure wear.

Admiral England Kit
Admiral England Kit

The couple look like my parent’s neighbours from when I was 15. When I was 15 I fancied the women who lived next door. I think that’s probably why I like this photo so much.

(You can find the book here at Amazon)

Number 1.

Rummenigge by Alan and Denise

Alan & Denise: Rummenigge single.
Alan & Denise: Rummenigge single.

Last week I went to The Daglfing Flea market in Munich and that’s where I found this record which is a tribute to the Germany and Bayern Munich striker Karl-Heinz Rummenigge by an English couple named Alan and Denise Whittle.

Alan and Denise Whittle with Karl-Heinz Rummenigge
Alan and Denise Whittle with Karl-Heinz Rummenigge

The dealer at the flea market was so excited by my wanting to buy it that he insisted on playing it to me on a record player that he had set up (his stall was indoors) and then between his singing along with the song’s chorus  “Rummenigge Rummenigge. All night long”  the dealer explained to me that the song had been a minor hit in Germany in the early 80s and the fans at Bayern had taken to singing it on the terraces.

The song is an appalling novelty song but you cannot help but wonder at Alan and Denise’s creative process. The line “Rummenigge Rummenigge all night long” soon becomes “Rummenigge Rummenigge puts it in” which I suppose means put the ball in the back of the net  – but obviously it doesn’t mean that. The single is not so much a love letter to Karl Heinz but is more like an advert in a swinger’s mag -“English couple seek athletic young man for broadminded fun”. It’s deranged.

You can hear part of the single here.

I don’t know what happened to Alan and Denise – but Rummenigge is still on the staff at Bayern Munich.


A War and Peace Bookmark

One of the books I found in yesterday’s trawl through the charity shops of Thetford and Cambridge’s Mill Road was a 1943 Macmillan / Oxford University Press copy of War and Peace. The book is not in great condition – but it did have a bookmark inside it that lists all the principle characters from the novel arranged in family groups on one side along with the other key characters on the reverse side.

War and Peace Bookmark

War and Peace Bookmark_0001
























I assume that the bookmark is original and came with the book when it was first published. It is useful and lovely.

The book also had an excellent map on the inside cover and I’m a sucker for any novel that comes with a map.

War And Peace Map.

Ridiculous Crockery

croc A by-product of my endless trawling around charity shops and carboot sales is that I have quite a collection of ridiculous crockery.

I found this Intelligent Fungicides mug yesterday in Thetford. I like it because of the phrase “Intelligent fungicides” and because I’m vaguely curious, though not to the point where I want to Google it,  as to whether BASF is the same BASF who made my favourite audio cassettes back when home recording was killing music. Googling that would rob the mug of its mystery.

Most of all I like because it’s just so damned East Anglian. Most small towns in these parts have factories that make intelligent fungicides or game changing seed drills or next generation chicken feed.

I will add this to my collection along with the John Wayne souvenir plates and Welcome to Lowestoft bowls.

I’m 50 next year.  I will never hold a managerial position.  The lives of others should never be my sole responsibility.




Disappointed in Thetford

Captain Mainwaring in Thetford

Today I went to Thetford.

I make trips like this every now and then. The way it works is this; I choose a place I want to visit, in this case Thetford, and choose some things I want to see there, in this case stuff relating to Dad’s Army – which was filmed in Thetford, and stuff relating to Thomas Paine – who was born in Thetford, and I set myself the target of paying for the entire day by buying undervalued books/records/cds from the town’s charity shops which I will then later ship to Amazon who sells them on my behalf in return for a commission.

I call these days out Charity Shop Road Trips (though this one was by rail). I’ve been doing them for a few years. (I’ve written about them, or the carboot equivalent, here).  I enjoy them in a sort of daft, carefree way – in the charity shops, as well as buying stuff to sell, I usually find a couple of books or records or DVDs I want for myself, I always end having random conversations with strangers and I get to see the things I want to see. And I always end up paying my way. I usually end up making a profit on the day.

Until today.

Thetford has the usual amount of charity shops – I found five in the town centre and one nearer the station and that should have been more than enough to cover the £23 my day out cost me. But I’ve never seen such desolate shelves.

After 3 hours trawling through the absolute arse end of the consumer society I came up with the following:


Based on the prices I think they should go for at Amazon this lot will make me £17 profit. This meant, that for the first time, my Charity Shop Road Trip made a loss. Whitley Bay, Loughborough, Winchester repeatedly, the Isle Of Wight (all of it) to name but a few – I’d licked them all with my cunning profiteering. But not Thetford.

Moreover – The Dad’s Army Museum was closed for the winter and the visitor centre where you can find the visitor trail for the Thomas Paine Walk and the Dad’s Army Walk was closed for Christmas.  So, dejected and defeated, I left Thetford early – but I will return. Two people there that I spoke to spoke of a giant charity shop warehouse on the edge of town – and  I still want to see the Dad’s Army Museum.

And most of all  I still want to try to measure the gap between the freedom I enjoy on days out like this and the freedom Thomas Paine argued for.


I put everything right in Cambridge – I was back early enough to trawl through the Mill Road charity shops, including the glorious RSPCA bookshop and bought this lot:

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They’re worth loads. So I won in the end.

A Reading List for 2016

I spent the last few hours of 2015 reading Houellebecq’s last novel “Submission”. Quite near the start of the book the central character says:

“Yet the special thing about literature, the major art form of a Western civilization now ending before our very eyes, is not hard to define. Like literature, music can overwhelm you with sudden emotion, can move you to absolute sorrow or ecstasy; like literature, painting has the power to astonish, and to make you see the world through fresh eyes. But only literature can put you in touch with another human spirit, as a whole, with all its weaknesses and grandeurs, its limitations, its pettiness, its obsessions, its beliefs; with whatever it finds moving, interesting, exciting or repugnant. Only literature can give you access to a spirit from beyond the grave – a more direct, more complete, deeper access than you’d have in conversation with a friend. Even in our deepest, most lasting friendships, we never speak as openly as when we face a blank page and address a reader we do not know”.

Unlike Houellebecq I’m not especially pessimistic about the future of Western civilisation and I am nowhere near jaded enough, as I think he is,  to give up on what was I thought was his magnificent definition of the humanism that is at the heart of literature and of reading – and it was timely for me to read it on New Year’s Eve because like almost every new year I was in the middle of making a list of the books I want to read over the year ahead.

I find making reading lists easy. I’ve been doing it for years. What hasn’t been so easy is reading the books.  Last year, inspired by Andy Miller’s brilliant book The Year of Reading Dangerously, I really went for it  – my list  contained 50 books from what many would consider the canon of great literature. It was an excellent list of which I was very proud.

I didn’t read any of them. 

Instead, last year,  I read 12 books that weren’t on my list. One of them was “ ‘Triffic” the autobiography of Mike Read (the comedian and Eastenders actor). Of the others only 2 of could be considered as literary.

I’m not surprised I didn’t get through my reading list. My life over the last year has been full of drudgery and I work hard (as do many others – I’m not fishing for pity). Last year my wife’s working week was based at the other end of England – leaving me as a single parent to 2 kids, one of whom is 3. Add to that moving house, my job and blah blah blah….

And this year is going to be harder and time is going to be tighter.

But so what – the point of this reading list is not just something to get through. It’s not a to do list – that makes it sound like part of the drudgery. This list is part of a war against the drudgery.  I recently re-read Michael Chabon’s  essay about Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake and in it he says this about Joyce’s Ulysses:

“Ulysses struck me, most of all, as a book about life; every sentence, even those that laid bare the doubt, despair, shame, or vanity of its characters, seemed to have been calibrated to assert, in keeping with the project of the work as a whole, the singularity and worth of even the most humdrum and throwaway of human days”

I’m expecting lots of humdrum and throwaway days in the year ahead. But if I stick to my reading list and what I read puts me “in touch with another human spirit” (and I take Houellebecq’s “spirit” to mean life) then at least some of my humdrum days may become singular and full of worth.

The books I intend to read this year are:

January – To read as many of the books I got at Xmas a possible.

These are: Submission (Houellebecq), A Man Lies Dreaming (Lavie Tidhar), Concrete, Extinction (both by Thomas Bernhard), We (Zamyatin), Red Rosa (graphic novel by Kate Evans) and John Aubrey (Ruth Scurr). I also received the The Other Paris (Luc Sante), The German War (Nicholas Stargardt) and biographies of Terry Gilliam, Goebbels and Ginsberg (I always get biographies alphabetically. Next year it’s Sammy Hagar, Hitler and Hefner).

If you are wondering why I got so many books at Xmas it is because, much like Kim Jong-un, I am loved by many many people. I expect. 

If I read 3 of these books I will be delighted. I’ll try to fit the rest in where I can.

And then each month I intend to read one big bastard of a book which I’ve never read before:

February – Middlemarch 

March – Ulysses (which I’ve read before but in 2 goes about 20 years apart)

April – Moby Dick

May – Gravity’s Rainbow

June – War and Peace

July – Atlas Shrugged (which I’ve chosen deliberately because it’s not a book I would normally choose to read)

August – Infinite Jest

And that’s it.  The list only goes up to August because if all goes to plan we are moving to Munich in September and I’ll need a whole new load of lists and resolutions to keep on top of that.