Surprise stash of 10,000 footballers' autographs from Pele to George Best in Wetherby self-storage locker

Auctioneers were not prepared for the huge stash of footballing memorabilia they would find in a self-storage locker in Wetherby – including some 10,000 player autographs.

Stanley Matthews, Bobby Charlton, George Best, Pele, Franz Beckenbauer – the list of stars goes on and on.

But that was just the tip of the iceberg, with the locker packed floor to ceiling with boxes containing thousands of football programmes, ticket stubs for matches played as long as half a century ago, more than 2,000 pin badges, scarves, shirts and books.

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Lifelong football fan Edward Spink, who amassed the collection, was also a fan of cricket, rugby, golf, other sports. The collection is now going under the hammer as part of an online auction which ends on Sunday.

Lee Wood and Will Duggleby with the collectionLee Wood and Will Duggleby with the collection
Lee Wood and Will Duggleby with the collection

Auctioneer Will Duggleby said: “Edward Spink was an 11-year-old schoolboy when he went to his first football match at Elland Road in the 1960s. It triggered a passion that lasted his entire life.

“He never married, spent his entire career with the NatWest, followed Leeds United home and away for decades -- but collected the autograph of just about anybody who kicked a football.

“Relatives who had the task of moving the collection from his home in Thorp Arch to the storage facility after his death earlier this year said there was hardly room to move in the cottage. It required a Luton van to transport it all to the York saleroom.”

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Lee Wood, a Middlesbrough supporter who has been part of the Duggleby team cataloguing the collection, said: “The oldest of the thousands of programmes is for a Leeds v Wolves reserve team fixture that took place in October 1923. Doesn’t sound very exciting but it could be the only surviving example of the programme.

“The autograph collection is simply mind-blowing. It includes just about everyone who has worn a Leeds United shirt in the past forty or fifty years – and some who played for the club even before that. It contains no fewer than a dozen John Charles autographs.”

The catalogue is available on the firm’s website ( Viewing is at York Auction Centre, Murton, today and tomorrow, 10am to 4.30pm.

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