While many England fans are fretting about finishing work in time to watch the crunch Euro 2020 match with Germany on Tuesday, one supporter’s biggest issue is which shirt to wear.
Football shirt fanatic Pete Hammond has 23 different Three Lions tops among a huge collection of 364 from all over the world.
The wardrobes and drawers at his home near Spalding are all bulging with the assortment of shirts, worth up to £15,000. And with a new addition being added most weeks, the collection is ever increasing.
Pete, 39, said: “I honestly only started out looking to get a handful of shirts but it’s escalated somewhat!”
He got his first shirt as a ten-year-old back in 1992 – the final Manchester United one made by Adidas.
“Even at that age I started looking at different teams’ kits,” said Pete. “I remember getting a yellow Tottenham away shirt in a sale.
“And I had the 92-94 Man Utd Umbro away kit which my six-year-old son Stanley has got in his collection now.”
He added: “I’ve always been a Man United fan and always will be, but even as a kid it never used to faze me buying kits of other teams.”
One of his first purchases of a foreign shirt was Nagoya Grampus Eight following former England striker Gary Lineker’s move to the Japanese club.
And inspired by one of his favourite players, Les Sealey, Pete started adding goalie shirts to his collection.
Then came the first of the England shirts, starting with the away shirt for the failed campaign to qualify for the 1994 World Cup finals in USA.
Pete was funding his purchases through earnings from a paper round and work at the Farm Café in Fleet.
“I remember saving up for a Man United goalie shirt – the away one from 92 to 94 – week in, week out with pocket money my nan gave me. I ordered it through Match magazine, you had to clip out the mail order bit and send it off.
“Unfortunately I haven’t still got it – I’d love to get one of those again.”
Umbro has always been his favourite make and with the 1990s boom of Italian football and TV coverage of it here, he targeted Inter Milan tops and then Lazio when Paul Gascoigne joined.
He said: “The Umbro designs across the 90s were so out there. Some people think they were garish but I liked that they were a British brand at the time and they were proper football shirts with proper collars, button up and great material.
“Some of my shirts are 30 years old and they’ve held up remarkably well, which is testament to their quality.”
Pete’s collecting picked up again about six years ago after he stopped playing football.
He said: “It’s been important for me to have a hobby. I thought if I can’t play football I’ll focus on getting the shirts and retain that bit of love for the game.
“It’s great to hunt down a shirt you’ve been after for a while and get it for an absolute bargain.
“And the collectors are a decent little community.”
One very satisfying moment came three years ago when he finally got the 1992/93 Lazio shirt he’d wanted for more than 20 years.
He was happy to break his usual ceiling of £30 for that one. It cost £38.
Occasionally he swaps or sells some, but turned down a £500 offer for a Bayern Munich one.
Shirts from Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Ukraine, Russia, Canada, Argentina and Brazil are all represented in the collection. However, Pete won’t entertain any Manchester City, Liverpool or Arsenal tops because of their rivalries with Manchester United.
All his shirts get worn – he pops on a different one every day after work as head of commercial performance for a publishing firm. And during the Euros he’s even sneaked England tops into work video calls.
Wife Hayley “goes along” with his collecting, says Pete.
“The thing that grates on her most is the amount of space they take up,” he admitted. “And I don’t think she’s too happy about me getting Stanley into it as well!”
The hope is that their three-year-old daughter Nancy shows no more interest than occasionally trying on one of Stanley’s shirts – or even more wardrobes might be needed.