Newcastle United fan’s obsession with collecting club shirts is captured in new book

Newcastle United fan Gavin Haigh’s new book Black and White Stripes: The Greatest Collection of Matchworn Shirts is published soon

Some people collect classic cars. Others collect stamps. Gavin Haigh collects Newcastle United shirts – and he’s got hundreds of them.

His 30-year obsession is the focus of a new book, Black and White Stripes: The Greatest Collection of Matchworn Shirts, which is published next month. The lifelong Newcastle fan and season-ticket holder, who lives in County Durham, says: “The book is basically an exhibition of my collection which I started in the early 1990s.”

And what a collection it is – the 53-year-old has managed to accumulate more than 1,000 replica and matchworn Newcastle United shirts over the years. “I picked the first one up in 1992,” says Gavin. “It was a number 17 shirt from the 1989-90 season, and it was given to me by Newcastle centre-forward Micky Quinn. My oldest shirt comes from the late 1950s, probably 1959.”

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If the Magpies’ infamous 1974 FA Cup final appearance was one to forget for Newcastle fans, Gavin’s favourite shirt from his collection was originally worn by United midfielder Tommy Cassidy at Wembley that day. The shirt itself was a simple black and white Bukta classic, with the club badge in the middle, and free of the accoutrement of sponsors’ logos which would arrive in the next decade.

Gavin went to his first march in the 1976-77 season – a 3-2 win over Birmingham City at St James’ Park. “Malcolm Macdonald had just left the club,” he remembers, “and my first heroes were Alan Gowling and Micky Burns.” Interestingly, it was a time when fans wearing replica club shirts for the match was really not the done thing.

“Most of us kids would just wear a black and white scarf – and sometimes even wrap it around our wrist,” he says. “You couldn’t buy replica club shirts off-the-peg at a giant club supermarket like you do now. The ones that were available came from a sports shop, like Stan Seymour’s in Newcastle city centre.”

At Newcastle United, Gavin reckons, fans only began wearing replica shirts in large numbers in the late 1980s and early ’90s when the so-called ‘barcode’ strip became a big favourite. With the advent of the Premier League, replicas would become a huge, money-spinning business. Anyone who watched Newcastle United at St James’ Park during the mid-1990s ‘Entertainers’ era will recall row after row of fans decked out in black and white Asics replica shirts.

Nowadays, the unveiling of a new kit every season or two has become a favourite ritual for many fans with each new design widely discussed and argued over on social media – and you can add to the equation away strips and third kits. The latest Castore black and white iteration, incidentally, has enjoyed a generally positive response.

Gavin’s book, with a foreword by Magpies’ legend David Kelly, is a fascinating slice of Newcastle United history. Telling the story of the famous black and white stripes, it features photographs of 101 matchworn shirts, as worn by the likes of Kelly himself, Paul Gascoigne, Peter Beardsley, Alan Shearer, Gary Speed, Jonjo Shelvey and many more.

Black and White Stripes: The Greatest Collection of Matchworn Shirts by Gavin Haigh, is published on August 10 by Conker Editions, price £16.00.


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