What do you do when you’ve practically 3,000 soccer shirts in your possession? In case your title is Arjan Wijngaard, the reply is allocate a room in your home as an exhibition house and log each single shirt in a complete on-line catalogue.
Not too long ago, These Soccer Occasions spoke to Dutch soccer shirt collector Arjan Wijngaard, the person behind www.voetbalshirts.org and the proprietor of one of many largest retro soccer shirt collections not simply within the Netherlands however the entire of Europe.
For practically 25 years, Arjan has been amassing soccer shirts from across the globe, starting with an Everton shirt that was given to him as a present in 1997. With such a permanent status, we requested him what drew him to amassing kits within the first place.
“The primary query is essentially the most troublesome,” he says. “In fact, I preferred soccer within the first place. That is a crucial factor if you wish to gather soccer shirts. There isn’t any explicit cause why I selected shirts, although. Some individuals select scarves (I’ve some scarves as properly as a result of if I can’t get a shirt once I go to a stadium or a recreation, I attempt to purchase a shawl as a substitute). Really, possibly I’d higher have chosen for scarves or pins; they’re loads cheaper and don’t want that a lot house!”
Take a wander into Arjan’s shirt showroom and it’s simple to see what he means. From ceiling to flooring, the partitions are fitted racks that groan beneath the large weight of his assortment. The door is an incongruous rectangle of white in an in any other case ubiquitous banquet of color, whereas within the window two mannequins stand sentinel in inexperienced and blue raiment. It’s a veritable sacrarium to shirts – from golf equipment each grand and meek.
“Normally I like to gather shirts from golf equipment that aren’t very simple to seek out,” Arjan explains. “Like decrease and non-league, for instance, steps 9 and 10 of the [English football] pyramid or golf equipment from nations that aren’t often known as well-known soccer nations like New Zealand or Tanzania.”
Not that anybody can flip up and take a tour round his showroom, nonetheless. Arjan makes intensive use of the web to show his assortment, for he runs a web site – whereby he catalogues the shirts by nation, membership and division – in addition to Twitter, Fb and Instagram accounts all below the banner of Voetbalshirts.org. However what impressed him to start this on-line odyssey within the first place?
“There have been a number of causes. Firstly, it’s to point out others what I’ve. Secondly, for the insurance coverage to show I had all of the shirts if there’s a fireplace or theft. Additionally, having my assortment on-line makes it simpler for me to see what I’ve already bought, particularly when I’m in search of new ones on-line and when I’m in (fan) retailers overseas.”
These are the 2 most important avenues by which Arjan acquires the overwhelming majority of his shirts. Previous to the continued world pandemic, he was endeavor round 5 journeys a 12 months to overseas nations with a view to develop his assortment, with two or three of those visits occurring throughout the North Sea in Britain. However with flight restrictions hampering his capacity to acquire shirts from the golf equipment themselves, he has made growing use of the web.
“I desire to get them personally from the membership store close to the stadium, however that’s not all the time potential with over 2,700 shirts,” he admits. “Different choices are on-line membership retailers and, in fact, eBay but in addition teams on Fb and different collectors right here within the Netherlands, overseas and on Twitter. Throughout the years, I’ve made some contacts all around the world and that’s additionally a enjoyable a part of amassing.”
Certainly, Arjan is embedded deep within the soccer shirt group the place he enjoys a distinguished and lively function as certainly one of Europe’s most devoted collectors. He presides over a soccer fiefdom of 6,000 followers throughout his three social media channels, whereas his web site has attracted in extra of 200,000 guests. However, he attests, the shirts themselves are usually not truly essentially the most rewarding side of being a collector.
“All of the issues that include amassing are possibly even nicer than having the shirts. The visits to the stadiums, looking out on-line, getting involved with individuals, assembly different collectors and likewise volunteers which are pleased with their membership and need to assist me so as to add a shirt or their membership to the gathering is nice. Shirt amassing bought me lots of constructive issues moreover the shirts themselves. A number of speaking about shirts and soccer and serving to one another by our mutual ardour of soccer shirts.”
As a lot because the group advantages are pleasant, Arjan will need to have a favorite shirt, so we press him for a solution, laborious as it could be to decide on only one from 2,800 choices. “There may be one previous FC Groningen shirt that could be a favorite,” he admits finally, “as a result of it’s a uncommon one, matchworn and nearly 40 years previous.”
Such a uncommon and vintage shirt is the pleasure of his assortment and, like most of his clothes, Arjan refuses to put on it for leisure functions, though not essentially for the rationale most individuals may anticipate. “I have a tendency to not put on my shirts as a result of not the entire shirts are in my dimension (anymore)!” he says. “I don’t put on soccer shirts fairly often. I don’t need to harm them. However, truly, some I’ve double: one for the gathering and one to put on.”
Even with such an in depth and invaluable assortment, Arjan nonetheless has his sights on increasing it additional, although his showroom seems to have reached the purpose of saturation. Even the door bears host to numerous caps held on pegs hammered into the wooden. He has a shortlist of kits he’s working by and he reveals to us the one shirt he covets above all others.
“There may be one shirt I actually need to add to my assortment, a matchworn Groningen cup last shirt from 2015. Groningen is my native group they usually solely received one trophy. The Dutch cup. And as I mentioned earlier than, I like shirts from non-league golf equipment I don’t have but. So, if there are people who find themselves studying this and assume they may also help me with a shirt from their native non-league membership, don’t hesitate to contact me!”
Located as he’s within the Netherlands’ north-east, Arjan’s native group and the one he professes to assist most keenly is Groningen, finest recognized in recent times for being the boyhood membership of Arjen Robben. It was a love affair that started round 30 years in the past and which served as one thing of a gateway into his lifelong affinity for the game and the kits related to it.
“Groningen is my native group. I’ve had a season ticket for nearly thirty years and the stadium is just ten minutes away by bike. My opinion is that you just all the time must assist your native group. However Everton was my first shirt. I suppose I prefer to assist individuals’s golf equipment. Everton, Groningen and Feyenoord actually are individuals’s golf equipment.”
Although the increase in shirt amassing has been a comparatively current phenomenon, and one which was little doubt exacerbated by a lockdown that allowed individuals to speculate extra money and time in beginning or increasing their collections, Arjan has been lively on Twitter since 2010. He’s, for all intents and functions, one of many previous guard, however what does the longer term maintain?
“I’ve no plans to cease!” he confesses. “So long as I prefer it and have the house to proceed, I shan’t cease.”
By Josh Butler @joshisbutler90