9 November ~ A couple of years ago in a small corner of Middlesbrough's club shop, I became transfixed by a pack of club-branded salt and pepper shakers, reduced from £10 to £6 because they carried the old club crest. I'm not against buying other clubs' merchandise if the price if right – I still own a Blackburn Rovers optical mouse bought a few years ago at a knockdown price. However, after much soul searching I decided not to buy these shakers, but it got me thinking that I've never seen such a product in any other club shop before or since.

With most official websites now identically bland and soulless affairs with slightly differing colour schemes, and team kits based upon three or four manufacturer templates, the club shop is one of the small areas of football where a little piece of individuality is still permitted. It fascinates me to wonder what made Birmingham City, for example, say yes to stocking that nodding dog for the car while Aston Villa appear to have passed on the opportunity. My theory was borne out by perusing the various club shop sections of websites: Coventry City will sell you a sky blue, crest-emblazoned hard hat; you can get your very own pair of gleaming silver and white QPR trainers; and Mansfield do their own limited edition white wine with a team photo proudly displayed across the label.

My knowledge of the business world, which granted is loosely based upon occasional viewings of The Apprentice and Dragons' Den, tells me that such differences in stock shouldn't really exist in the modern world, as manufacturers are normally only willing to produce bespoke items such as these in large quantities. And I can't imagine that Walsall sell enough of their branded binoculars to make such a venture viable. However, there they are, available at £2.99 on the website, the mini sales pitch proclaiming that "You won't miss a thing at Bank's(sic) Stadium with these essential binoculars".
In today's world where town and cities are all filled with the same old chains of sandwich shops, coffee houses and express supermarkets, it is oddly comforting that football still clings onto a sliver of uniqueness and variety. The only question remaining is whether the perfume on sale at Arsenal is in fact the same branded scent you can buy at Everton. Joel McClelland

Comments (2)
Comment by johntheface 2010-11-09 15:45:29

My favourite piece of club-shop merchandise by far was on sale at the City of Manchester Stadium. £50 - Sun Jihai or Shaun Goater's footprint embedded in a gold plaque. Not only is it a mad idea and possibly the worst gift I've ever seen, but why only these two players? I bet Trevor Sinclair was well miffed. It's also worth pointing out that Shaun Goater's footprint was much better value for money. His footprint was twice the size of Sun's so needed more gold.

Kudos also has to go to Everton for simply naming the club shop they opened in the "Liverpool 1" shopping centre "Everton 2". I imagine that joke never gets old with delivery men.

Everton supporting postie (with a cheeky grin): "Where's this next package going to?"
His LFC supporting colleague (through gritted teeth): "Everton 2, Liverpool 1..."

Comment by jordandub 2010-11-12 14:18:49

I'm an LFC fan, and our breadth of items on sale at the online shop over the years has been staggering. LFC floor-mats for your car anyone?!

More... merchandise