Do you collect any souvenirs of your various trips? For me, a trip isn’t complete unless I’ve added a scarf from the local team to my collection.
As you can see from the pictures below, I’ve built up quite a collection (and this is only part of it). Mostly bought by myself, though a few have been gifts brought back from trips by friends and relatives (so now you know what to buy me if you’re looking to get me a present when you’re on holiday!)
Buying a scarf the first time I visit a ground has become part of my routine. No trip is complete without a look round the stalls outside the ground where the selection is often much wider and more eclectic than the club shops have. You learn lots of things too, player nicknames from their scarves, good relationships between clubs from ‘friendship’ scarves. Yet there are some mysteries that I’ll probably never understand. Chiefly, why you can go to a random Spanish game and there’s a very high chance that the stalls will be selling Madrid and Barcelona merchandise.
For me, it’s the more obscure ones that make the collection. The Boavista one I picked up after seeing them play in the Portuguese third tier in April 2014 (literally the last one in the shop). Standing in the rain while a club employee went upstairs to an office to find a UD Ourense scarf in October 2015. The green and white colours of since-bankrupted Hungarian Champions Gyor ETO, where I spent six weeks on teaching placement in 2013. The biggest disappointment when I went to Fuenlabrada in March wasn’t the poor standard of the rather dull match, but the fact they only had half and half scarves commemorating their Copa del Rey tie with Real Madrid for sale.
Though I have to say that my favourite is probably the Recreativo de Huelva one. Not just because they were my local team for the past two and a half years, but because of the clever design with the blue letters spelling out DECANO (the club’s nickname) giving the appearance of blue stripes on the white background.
It’s not all travel-related stuff though. Is an international tournament really complete without collecting the official Panini sticker album?
I’ve completed a number of these, but my favourite is undoubtedly the Euro 2016 one, for no reason other than it was the first time I got to collect Northern Ireland players for a major tournament.
Update: December 2018
Moving to Madrid has had a significant impact on my scarf collection! As I’ve added more grounds to the list, more scarves have followed.
I’m still missing a Rayo Majadahonda one though, three games between their various grounds have failed to provide me with the opportunity to buy one. Maybe in 2019…
The Villaverde-San Andrés scarf on the right is undoubtedly the most obscure addition to the collection. Not only does it bear the club’s old name and badge on one side, on the other it actually appears to be a scarf for the club’s academy.
And it’s not just football scarves that I’ve picked up. In the week before the Madrid derby in September, Mahou released special edition bottles for both Real Madrid and Atlético. I couldn’t resist picking up a couple of the Atlético ones as souvenirs and presents for people back home.
Do you collect any football memorabilia? Retro shirts? Programmes? Mugs? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter.