Football scarves: A collector’s story

Stephen Brandt is a writer and the host of the Yellow Card Podcast. He also has a rather impressive collection of football scarves, and we asked him to tell us more about it. Here’s Stephen – follow him on Twitter @yellowcardSCB.

What’s in a collection? How and why does a collection start? Those are things people who don’t want to be called a hoarder ponder when others ask about their collection.

Anyone who has listened to Yellow Card Podcast on Blogtalkradio on Tuesdays from 7 to 8 pm EST, knows that I have a collection of soccer scarves. Like anything in my life, it started out with a goal, and it was far exceeded. Six years ago when I moved to downtown Buffalo, my roommate’s mother found out I was a football fan and sent me scarves. They were your typical German scarves, St. Pauli, HSV, Dortmund. and Hannover, which all looked good with the colder climates of Buffalo, NY.

After that, it snowballed. I bought my first scarf, a Sunderland scarf because when I decided to watch the English game, I wanted to pick the small clubs that weren’t money-laden or fan-boy based (Manchester United, Chelsea, City). I have since, like most Americans, switched clubs, and am a Liverpool fan (yes I have a scarf).  So let’s fast forward a couple years. The podcast is going strong, but I need a sponsor because like anyone who has a mildly successful podcast, or writing life, I lost my job.

So to fund my first love, the podcast Global Scarves was brought into the fray. I made up fifty scarves with the name of the show on it. The design was done by the marketing coordinator of Minnesota United. (Yes, he sent me a Minnesota United Scarf too). The trades of scarves began coming in monthly. Soon people were offering me scarves and cash for my show scarf. Also, I was given a Non-League America scarf, and Sean Reid who wrote Love Thy Soccer had a scarf with his book.

The best thing about a scarf other than everything, is the fact you can be emotionally invested in clubs that you do not know anything about. As a historian and someone with Irish blood I love anything that is anti-colonial, or revolutionary. One of my favorite new scarves is Al Ahly from Eygpt, who stand against colonialism and the establishment and for for the rights of the little man. In fact, when the political unrest happened a couple years ago, Al Ahly was the club that had the most fans killed during all of it.

Many people who collect scarves also play Football Manager, so you can get a scarf of a club, and go into the game to play as that team. Or you can use it to research the club.

Some of my favorite new ones? The guys at Non League America sent me a Detroit City FC scarf of the Rust Belt Derby. Detroit City is one of the hipster clubs in America – something that they have gained much notoriety world-wide for. How many Eurosnobs can say they have one of them? Probably not many. Yes, if you have a scarf collection, you’re probably a snob, or a hipster.

The collection doesn’t end at club teams.There’s Singapore, Korea, Germany, Costa Rica, and a couple American Outlaw chapter scarves. Then, the rarities. San Francisco City FC,  a supporters-owned club in the North California League, gave me a scarf. I’ve had some of their founders on my podcast, and they sent me a scarf out of the blue.

There’s also a FC Gold Pride, a club in the second failed Women’s National Soccer League. It’s my only women’s soccer scarf, and I’ve chatted with Sky Blue FC on the show.

Ruffneck Scarves had a contest a year or two ago, and I won a scarf from them. Being a University of Kansas Graduate, I love to have anything about that region, so I received a Sporting Kansas City scarf in that sweepstake.

Scarves are the hipster thing to collect in the sport nowadays. That stunning realization could scare people away from collecting. Saying you have a collection is fun, because people are always fascinated to see and hear about a club you’re representing. They are great conversation starters, and I hope to keep adding more conversation pieces to my collection.

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