Friday, 24 January 2014

Pro Set Football Card Collection 1990/91

We like to showcase other people's memories here at the Attic (saves us a job for one thing!) and tot hat end, here's a fantastic article from James Welham recalling his collection of Pro Set Football Cards

A recent trip to the ancestral family home (my Mum's house in Essex) found me digging around the garage looking for some precious heirlooms. While no antique clocks or Picasso originals were found, I did manage to stumble across something even more impressive - the entire 1990/91 Pro Set Football Card collection.

Football cards you say? Not stickers? Are you American or something? Well, Pro Set were an American firm who, in the early 1990s, tried to muscle in on the likes of Panini and Merlin who dominated the football sticker market in the UK. The cards were designed to be displayed in plastic sleeves inside a binder so that you could see both the picture on the front and the player profile on the back.

Every top flight team featured at least 11 players, while, further down the leagues, the process was seemingly random with some teams getting three players and many none at all.

A number of things struck me while going through this collection. For one, the lack of players from outside the British Isles. A Romeo Zondervan here, an Erik Thorstvedt there, but essentially almost every player is from these shores. So much so that in the player profile for Sunderland's Thomas Hauser they felt moved to comment "It is rare indeed to find German players in English football".

Then there is the appearance of the players. Tattoos for starters; a red rose or military symbol on a forearm and that was it. None of your sleeve tattoos in 1990. Likewise facial hair - no stubbly little beards, just proper moustaches. Men's moustaches. I'm talking about you Tony Coton. And you Neil Pointon.

The kits haven't changed that much - even back in 1990 kits were made from 100% man-made materials and every team had a sponsor - although nowadays we no longer have to go through the mental torture of short shorts. Some of the kit makers are long gone though. Whatever happened to Spall, Ribero, Influence and Beaver? They may have been naff, but it was good to see a wide variety of kits rather than the all-pervasive templates that are to be found these days.

Many aspects of the collection were quite shabby. For example, the picture of Tim Sherwood - then at Norwich - is actually another player entirely. Andy Hinchcliffe was at Everton at the time, but his picture shows him in a Man City kit. All the cards were numbered and followed a logical sequence (Arsenal, Aston Villa, etc) but for some reason half of Derby's players are right at the end, along with a load of Division Four 'stars'.

There was also a tinge of sadness as I went through the collection. A number of featured players - Gary Ablett, Tommy Caton, David Preece, David Rocastle, Les Sealey, and Gary Speed - are no longer with us. Being reminded of these men, all of whom died far too young, was certainly quite poignant.

That said, it was great fun going through these cards. And the name 'Peter Shirtliff' gives me the giggles as much now as it did 23 years ago.

Thanks to James for sharing his memories there...if you'd like to share anything from your football memorabilia collection, drop us a line and let us know to admin [at] thefootballattic [dot] com


  1. I have got the same collection given by me by my grandad in 92 he sadly passed away in 94 but ever time I look through them it makes me feel 12 again

    1. Nice to have those memories, eh Steven? :)

      Chris O.

  2. Romeo Zondervan not Zonderman it should be.

    Robin Z.

    1. Thanks for pointing out the typo, Robin. That's now been corrected for you.

      Regards, Chris O.

  3. The Tim Sherwood card is Paul Blades, no? In a Norwich kit..

  4. Does any one know if this collection has any value

  5. Ive got the whole set in a binder but your article is great as it has told me a few things i didnt know. My dad paid loads of money for packs and packs of these i remember having a big elastic band round them. Football cards are going up in value at the moment especially some rare ones however ive seen a full set of these pro set cards for between £5 - £10! Worth more for the memories than that price