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The Bryan Horsnell Collection of Football Memorabilia fetches more than double it's pre-sale estimate

A magnificent collection of Football Memorabilia fetched £392,378 – more than double its pre-sale estimate – in Graham Budd Auctions’ sale of Sporting Memorabilia on Tuesday & Wednesday, September 7 & 8, 2021. Comprising more than 200 lots of Medals, Caps, Player Collections, Official Match Pennants and Vintage Jerseys, the Collection was amassed by Reading-based Bryan Horsnell, who is a pioneer of football collecting and has been very active in this pursuit since the 1960s.

Following the sale, Graham Budd commented: “It has been one of the most successful auctions we have had for many years which is a tribute to the outstanding quality of the Bryan Horsnell Collection, supplemented by a selection of superb lots from other consignors including the earliest Manchester United medal ever to be sold at auction which achieved a sale topping price of £24,100 and which was closely followed by the Bobby Charlton shirt that made £18,075.  These are very strong prices and typical of the memorabilia we sell relating to Manchester United which has a global audience.  The auction over-ran by nearly 2 hours at the scheduled rate due to the intense body of bidding from all over the world via the internet and on the telephones.”

The highest price of the Horsnell Collection was for a Football League Division One Championship medal awarded to Harry Cawthorne of Huddersfield Town in season 1923-24. This had been estimated to fetch £3,000-4,000, but sold to a private UK collector for £19,280 [lot 618]. Harry was a defender in Herbert Chapman's famous Huddersfield Town team of the 1920s. 1923-24 proved to be the first of three consecutive First Division Titles for the Yorkshire club. The first title was won by a slender superiority of goal average, having finished the season tied on points with Cardiff City. Cawthorne later played for Sheffield United.

Elsewhere among the medals in the Horsnell Collection - two F.A. Cup Winner's Medals won by father and son, Harry Johnson senior and Harry Johnson junior for Sheffield United FC.  Dating from 1902 and 1925, they sold for £9,038 and £10,243 respectively to a Private Collector. Each had been estimated at £3,000-5,000 [Lots 595 and 596].

Among the Vintage football jerseys, was Bobby Charlton’s signed red Manchester United No.9 home jersey circa 1965 which sold for £18,075 to a UK Private Collector against an estimate of  £3,000-5,000, while two other Manchester United shirts from the 1980s sold extremely well: Bryan Robson’s signed white Manchester United No.7 away jersey from the 1984-85 UEFA Cup Campaign sold for £10,243 to an Overseas Private Collector [lot 726] and Mike Duxbury’s red Manchester United No.12 substitute's jersey from the 1985 FA Cup final, fetched £10,845 to a UK Private Collector [lot 727].

The highest price of the second day of the sale was achieved by the Historically important and earliest Manchester United [Newton Heath] football medal ever to have been offered at auction which sold for £24,100 to a Private Collector [Lot 581].

The Manchester Senior Cup winner's medal was awarded to Thomas Fitzsimmons in 1893. In the 1892-93 Manchester Senior Cup Final Newton Heath beat Bolton Wanderers 2-1 at Hyde Road on April 15. Newton Heath had progressed to the final with victories over West Manchester and Bury, with Fitzsimmons scoring four goals during the competition. 1892-93 was also Newton Heath's first season in the Football League Division One. They avoided relegation by beating Small Heath [Birmingham] in a play-off 'Test Match'. Fitzsimmons, having joined the club in November, scored five League goals during the campaign. Thomas Fitzsimmons was a Scot, born at Annbank in South Ayrshire on October 21, 1870. He was an outside-right and was one of several players on trial at Celtic who were seeking a replacement for Celtic's first ever goalscorer Neil McCallum. He was till a trialist when he made his League debut v Rangers at Ibrox on September 24, 1892. As such, this makes Fitzsimmons the only player in Celtic history to debut for the club in an 'Old Firm' fixture. This proved to be his only appearance for the Bhoys, although some records would suggest he played in a Glasgow Cup game before his League debut v Pollokshaws Athletic on September 17. A couple of months later he transferred to Newton Heath making his debut v Aston Villa on November 19 at North Road, scoring in the 2-0 win. In all he made 30 competitive starts and scored 6 goals. In June 1894 Tommy Fitzsimmons returned to Scotland to play for his local team Annbank FC. His brother David also played for Newton Heath.

Another interesting medal was the Football League Division One 1901-02 Championship medal awarded to Sunderland's Jimmy Watson that sold for £19,280 against an estimate of £5,000-6,000 and was bought by a Private Collector. James 'Jimmy' Watson (1877-1942) former Scottish left-back footballer, who played for Sunderland from 1900 to 1907, making 211 appearances, winning The Football League Championship in 1901-02 and won six Scottish caps from 1903 to 1909 [lot 582].

The sale which comprised more than 1000 lots relating to Football, Olympic Games, Golf, Boxing, Cricket, Motor Sport, Horse Racing, Rugby, Tennis and other popular sports, also included the Cliff Bastin Collection which realised £61,817 – against a pre-sale high estimate of £31,690.  Cliff Bastin (1912-91) was an English footballer, who played for the English national team, as well as playing as a winger for Exeter City and Arsenal Football Club, where he was their 3rd highest goal scorer. Bastin’s Arsenal goalscoring record of 178 goals remained a record from 1939 until finally beaten by Ian Wright in 1997. The highest price of the collection was paid for a cap from 1934 which fetched £4,479 and was bought by a private collector [lot 367]. The cap was from the match that was played at Bastin’s club Arsenal and saw an England v Italy match that was a very bad tempered ill-disciplined game and became known as “The Battle of Highbury.” Italy had recently been crowned World Champions in the FIFA 1934 World Cup held on their home soil.


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