1. a fact or situation that is observed to exist or happen, especially one whose cause or explanation is in question.

2. a remarkable person or thing.

Football shirts, eh? The joy that they cause may be difficult to explain but I think we can all agree that they are quite remarkable. 

What makes these bits of polyester so appealing to football fans across the world? Whether you’re a fan of the recent Venezia stunners or the shirts that have already been etched into football shirt history like Germany’s 1988 home strip, I’m going to try and answer that question, from my point of view, anyway. 

I haven’t been collecting shirts for that long really -18 months maybe – but I’m already hooked. And I can see why everyone else is too. 

Whether it be a shirt I picked up to help me remember a trip abroad or the purchase of Olympique Marseille’s 2020/21 away shirt just because it has nice little houses on it, I love them all. 

I’m an avid Manchester City fan (I can hear the boos) and I bought the third shirt of the 2013/14 season just because it reminded me of Dzeko and the class season which he had. That’s what makes football shirts so incredible – the memories which they hold in-between those many, many polymer molecules.

On the topic of memories, I was in Budapest last summer. It was one of the cities that I stopped off at on my interrailing journey from Manchester to Istanbul. Being a shirt collector, I obviously sought out a football shirt shop in the hopes of finding a jewel of a shirt. 

Did I find said jewel that day? No, not really. But did I pick up a 2009/10 Hamburger SV away shirt? Yes, yes I did. Why, you may ask ?

Well, I know nothing about Hamburg, but the stories told by the shop owner, the way he had to smuggle football shirts across the border ‘back in the day’ and how he now meets up with other local football shirt collectors to discuss heated topics, such as, “Do you prefer yours with or without namesets?” and “Are you more of a sponsor or sponsor-less kind of guy?”, made me buy a shirt that day. A shirt to remember the great conversations I had with a great shop owner. 

At the same time, football shirts can hold no meaning whatsoever. We wear them because they simply look good. Take Snoop Dogg, for example. When performing for Radio 1’s Big Weekend back in 2015, he donned the then current Norwich City home shirt. Since then, he’s been spotted in the colours of Burnley, Liverpool, Barcelona and QPR. Does this mean he supports each of those clubs? Does this mean he is able to name the QPR 11 that Aguero scored quite a famous goal against? Probably not. He simply wears them because he loves the colours, like I’m sure we’ve all done. 

Football shirts are a way of expressing our personal identity. It’s like wearing a band t-shirt but instead I’m wearing my 90s 1860 Munich shirt to show that I’m that little bit better than you, that’s all.

All in all, we all wear, or at least own, football shirts for different reasons. Whether you wear them to emulate your love of a club or player, whether you wear them because you love the funky colours of J-League 90s shirts or just because they remind you of a happy place, you’ll be accepted in the football shirt collectors’ world. Unless it’s a Manchester United shirt. I will not be so accepting then.

(By Ptolemy12 on Twitter)