These plain red tops date from the FA Cup finals of 1927-30, three years before the Gunners adopted their now classic red and white combo – devised by the great manager Herbert Chapman who also had the nearby underground station renamed Arsenal and pioneered the use of shirt numbers.
They were offered in an eight-lot collection of memorabilia related to Alf Baker (1898-1955).
Baker’s match-worn red Arsenal jersey from the final v Huddersfield Town played at Wembley Stadium on April 28, 1930, won by the Gunners, sold for £26,000 to a private UK collector against an estimate of £15,000-20,000. The long-sleeved shirt, by Bukta (the English sports clothing brand founded in 1879 in Stockport), features an embroidered club crest, white collar and cuffs. His winner’s medal from this game dipped under estimate at £9000.
His match-worn red jersey from the 1927 final v Cardiff City, also by Bukta, with a lace-up collar, took £24,000 (guide £10,000-15,000) from a private UK collector. Arsenal lost 1-0 (this remains the only time when the FA Cup was won by a team based outside England).
Miner to footballer
Born in Ilkeston, Derbyshire, Baker was originally a miner and played for various clubs in Derbyshire as an amateur. During the First World War he guested for Chesterfield, Crystal Palace and Huddersfield Town, although these appearances are not considered official.
In 1919 he turned professional and signed for Arsenal. According to club legend, Gunners manager Leslie Knighton signed Baker after meeting him at the pit where he worked, thus beating rivals for the player’s signature who were waiting at his home.
Baker made just one international appearance for England, against Wales on November 28, 1927, a 2-1 defeat (the medal for this sold for a top-estimate £800 at Budd’s auction and his cap made a within-estimate £1100).
He finally won a major medal when he played in the 1930 FA Cup final win. He played only one more game for the club before retiring from the game aged 33 in the summer of 1931. In all, Baker played 351 matches for Arsenal, scoring 26 goals.
Celtic, Belfast version
Budd’s auction included a Belfast Celtic v Glasgow Celtic eight-page programme for the game played at Celtic Park, Belfast, on April 27, 1925.
Playing in the famous jerseys of green and white hoops, the Belfast Celtic football club existed from 1891-1948, winning 14 Irish League titles.
According to belfastceltic.org: “The Belfast Celtic team was the pride of Irish football until it was forced out of competition after the dramatic game against Belfast rivals Linfield on Boxing Day 1948.
“The Celtic team had to run from the pitch for their lives when Linfield fans poured over the terrace barriers at the end of a 1-1 draw. Centre forward Jimmy Jones was thrown over a parapet, kicked unconcious and left with a broken leg. Defender Robin Lawler and goalkeeper Kevin McAlinden were also seriously hurt.
“At a meeting the same night Celtic’s directors decided to withdraw from football once the season’s commitments had been fulfilled.”
Regarding the programme, Budd said: “The match itself was an end of season friendly game between the Celtic football clubs of Belfast and Glasgow but would have been a memorable visit by the Glasgow team to Northern Ireland.
“I recognised that it was rare as it was the first time I had seen this programme since I began auctioning football memorabilia in 1998 and was anticipating a price in the region of £650-750.
“What transpired was a classic head-to-head auction room battle between two clients who took the bidding from £600 to the eventual hammer price of £2400.
“Both bidders were from Ireland; the winner from the north, the underbidder from the Republic.”