Book Review – Black and Whites Stripes: The Greatest Collection of Newcastle United Matchworn shirts by Gavin Haigh

About the Author:

Gavin Haigh’s life as a passionate Newcastle United FC (NUFC) shirt collector began as a seven-year-old in June 1976 with a trip with his mother to Stan Seymour’s sports shop in the centre of Newcastle. He attended his first match in October 1976, standing on the Gallowgate, became a Milburn Stand season-ticket holder in 1992 and continues to attend every home match, his love and commitment to the club never wavering. Gavin’s knowledge of the history of the club and their shirts is second to none, his NUFC shirt collection currently standing at close to 1,000, of which 275 are matchworn shirts.


Back in October 2021 Conker Editions released 101 Manchester City Matchworn Shirts: The Players – The Matches – The Stories Behind the Shirts by Mark McCarthy. Now ten months on another book in the same vein has been released featuring this time the collection of Newcastle United shirts owned by Gavin Haigh.

As with most Conker Editions offerings this is A5 in size and like the Manchester City shirt book, with double-page colour spreads afforded to each of the matchworn jerseys. This allows a page dedicated to the image of the shirt, with the other offering a brief description and other images. This detail varies and can include information about the season, match or the individual who wore the shirt as well as some facts about the shirt manufacturer and in some cases, the technical claims made about the garment – an example being, ‘this is the ultimate ergonomic fit to maximise and individual’s performance in competition and ensure sportswear doesn’t hinder their output.’ Well, what can you say to that!

For this reader there were a couple of details that stuck in the mind whilst reading this book. Firstly, it was a surprise to see that Admiral provided shirts for Newcastle in the early 1970s prior to their legendary logo being present on many kits. Secondly, about ASICS the company who first made the Magpies shirts in 1993/94. The Japanese company was founded in 1949 and started out manufacturing basketball shoes. What this reader didn’t know was that the company name is an acronym coming from the Latin proverb, ‘anima sana in corpore sano’ translated as ‘pray for a sound mind in a sound body’.

Within the 208 pages, Haigh whittles down his 275 matchworn shirts to 101 for the book and the jerseys range from a silky materialled top which was used for floodlit matches between 1957 to 1959 to that from the 2021/22 Premier League season worn by Ryan Fraser. As you would expect there are shirts worn by many of the legends that have played in the famous black and white stripes, such as Bob Moncur, Gazza, Andy Cole, Peter Beardsley, Pavel Srnicek, Les Ferdinand, Shay Given, Gary Speed and of course Alan Shearer.

As with the Manchester City book, the selection is dominated by shirts from the 1980s onwards, reflecting both the modern trend for new shirts being released year on year and the revolving door of sponsors that now adorn the front of shirts.

No doubt fans from St. James’ Park will pore over each and every shirt, each providing memories of their own, for neutrals (and perhaps indeed for collectors themselves) the interest lies in those rare and quirky shirts which have a story to tell. As a result amongst the pages of the book there is an unused and unnumbered spare long-sleeved shirts from the 1976 League Cup Final, an unused Aertex shirt from the Club’s 1983 Asian tour, various special shirts from testimonial games and a reminder of the recent global pandemic with a 2019/20 shirt which has the NHS logo on the sleeve and also the players name replaced with ‘Black Lives Matter.’

Not to be forgotten, goalkeepers are represented within the book, with shirts that range from a classic plain green jersey from 1980-1982 worn by the likes of Steve Hardwick and Kevin Carr, a 1989/90 blue striped affair worn by the much-travelled custodian, John Burridge, a technicolour ‘broken glass’ ASICS classic worn by Pavel ‘is a Geordie’ Srnicek, all the way through to the luminous colours favoured by modern day No:1’s such as Martin Dubravka.

This is a another great addition to the growing list of titles about football kits and shirts in particular, which is undoubtedly aimed at Magpies supporters, but will appeal to anyone interested in shirts and their continually evolving history.

(Publisher: Conker Editions Ltd. August 2022. Paperback: 208 pages)


Buy the book here: Black and White Stripes

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BLACK AND WHITE STRIPES is a stunning showcase of the world’s greatest collection of matchworn Newcastle United shirts. It tells the story of one man’s lifelong labour of love as a Magpies supporter and collector – and also works brilliantly, both visually and emotionally, as an informal fans’ history of the club spanning the late 1950s to date.

Every Newcastle United fan will be transported back in time by the historic matchworn shirts featured, each of which recalls a season, a past hero, big-match thrills and heartaches. Through the power of the shirts they wore, BLACK AND WHITE STRIPES puts you in touch with memories of Peter Beardsley and Alan Shearer, Gary Speed and Jonjo Shelvey.

Here is the shirt worn by hat-trick hero David Kelly in the 7-1 thrashing of Leicester in 1993, when the lads were presented with the First Division trophy. The Aertex number nine jersey prepared for the Japan Cup in 1983, but never used. Paul Gascoigne’s well-worn away shirt from the 1987/88 season. And many more…

Foreword by Newcastle United legend David Kelly.

 (Publisher: Conker Editions Ltd. August 2022. Paperback: 208 pages)


Read our review here: Black and White Stripes

Book Review: Alan Shearer – Fifty Defining Fixtures by Tony Matthews

This look at the career of Alan Shearer in the Fifty Defining Fixtures series from Amberley Publishing was released in 2016 and this website has reviewed a number of them including the editions on Brian Clough, Ryan Giggs, David Beckham and Jose Mourinho.

And to repeat what has been said before in those reviews, these books are not intended as a full biographical analysis of a player or manager’s career, but rather an overview which the author illustrates through their choice of key games. And in that regard, there is a place for this type of formulaic book, as long as they are done well.

Unfortunately, in the Shearer version, as with some of the others, the result is a bit of a mixed bag. The Introduction and Fact File are beneficial enough, but facts and figures are only useful if they are accurate. The author of this edition also produced the Ryan Giggs book and it appears that a key fact of the Manchester United legend found its way into the Shearer story, as Matthews states the Newcastle United star “played in 1,031 senior games for club and country”, figures which actually relate to Giggs sparkling career.

Again, comparing this edition with the Ryan Giggs book, both suffer from the same overuse of the exclamation mark and typos aplenty, leaving the reader with the impression that this would have benefited from decent proof-reading and editing.

It is ultimately a huge shame, because for a generation of young football fans, who only recognise Shearer as a BBC pundit on Match of the Day, this could have been a good introduction to a player who was certainly a brilliant centre-forward for Southampton, Blackburn Rovers, Newcastle United and England.

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Book Review: Glory, Goals & Greed (Twenty Years of the Premier League) by Joe Lovejoy

The first thing that struck me about this book is the title. In football terms it is a bit of a ‘game of two halves’. The main title, “…Glory, Goals & Greed…” has a tabloid feel about it, whilst the sub-title, “…Twenty Years of the Premier League…” is a factual statement.

In fact for me, this dichotomy is reflected in the pages of the book itself. Joe Lovejoy seems to have got caught between two very different styles within the publication. On the one hand there are the chapters which provide a ‘best of’, compilation view of the games and names from two decades of Premier League life and on the other a more serious journalistic view of the formation and changing face of football that the League has brought about.

The lighter side of the book gives the reader chapters such as ‘My Top 20 Matches’, ‘Ryan Giggs and Company’ (an assessment of the various Footballers of the Year from each Premier League season by the Welshman), ‘Managers Who Have Won the Premier League’ and ‘Twenty Headline Makers’. In my opinion these particular sections of the book don’t really provide anything new in terms of information or detail that most football fans don’t already know.

Where the book is for me more interesting is when Lovejoy dons his journalistic hat in interviewing key figures of the Premier League, both on and off the pitch and tackles some of the issues arising from the self-styled ‘best league in the world’. The players interviewed for their views of the Premier League years include Teddy Sheringham, Stan Collymore, Alan Shearer and off the field PFA Chairman Gordon Taylor; with their recollections afforded a chapter each.

The more factual, hard-hitting detail comes in the sections where the author explores the issues of foreign players, the financial situation of clubs and players agents. These parts of the book include research with key football administrators such as Rick Parry, Richard Scudamore and Sir Philip Carter. Included in these parts of the book are some startling statistics in relation to how things such as players’ wages, club spending and the number of foreign players has increased over the years. There is also an interesting chapter titled ‘The Mackem Model’ which focuses on the work that Sunderland FC does within the community. These to me are the most important areas of the book and for my part I would rather the publication been given over to more discussion and dissection of these issues than the lighter chapters. This for me is highlighted in the closing passage ‘Onwards and Upwards’, where the author takes the founding objectives of the Premier League and assesses whether they have been met in a couple of lines. I would have liked Lovejoy to expand on why he made those conclusions.

I believe the football reading public and market is mature enough to deal with a publication that investigates and probes what is happening in English football and what part the Premier League has played within it. This curate’s egg of a book unfortunately falls short.


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