A RARE and nearly-complete collection of Swindon Town FC matchday programmes sold for a whopping £40,500.

Ken Bridgeman started his lifelong hobby when he was 10 and spent years seeking out and snapping up souvenirs given out during decades of Town home and away games dating back to 1946, with a large amount of reserve, youth and exhibition matches added in as well.

While searching for the one missing programme which would have completed his impressive archive – an away match in Brighton in September 1947 –he bought almost a full A-Z of football and non-league club programmes ranging from Arsenal to York City.
One of these – a programme for Everton v Leeds in 1947 – sold for £1,400 in an auction of his entire collection which was hosted this month.

More than 1,500 bidders took part and battled for a chance to walk away with these treasures from football’s past.

Ken’s daughter Julie watched from home. She said: “It was very emotional because this was his pride and joy, he worshipped those programmes and loved showing them to people and talking about them.

“It was sad to see them go but it had to be done, I’ve fulfilled his wishes.

“I hope the programmes went to good homes and that they look after them as well as he did. Maybe some of the programmes went to people he knew.

“I didn’t know what it was all going to be worth and it was only when I started adding up the sale of each lot that I realised how much it had gone for altogether. 

“I could not believe how much attention this received but he would have been in his element knowing his collection had caused such a fuss.”

Most of Ken’s collection has now gone to other owners but Julie has kept a couple of items – his Arsenal scrapbook and the logbook listing every programme he once owned.

People from all over the country showed up to bid in person at Wessex Auction Rooms while other UK and international collectors called in their offers from further afield.

The final total massively exceeded expectations, with the most expensive Swindon programmes being sold for £600 in a batch of nine away games from the 1947/48 season.

Director Martin Hughes said: “It was amazing. We had a very busy room and bidders calling in during the whole auction. It’s always a good sign that things are going to go well if people are ringing up.

“This kind of collection only gets seen at auction once every four or five years, but for a Swindon Town one specifically, we may never see the likes of it again.

“It wasn’t just Swindon fans who were interested in it. Collectors for the away teams were eager to bid because fewer of their fans would have gone to those games.

“Before it started, we had a conservative estimate of £20,000 and thought it would all sell for £30,000 so a £40,000 result is great for all involved. Some lots we thought would stop at £400 just kept going up and up.

“People sometimes say at auctions ‘oh, it sold for more than it was worth’ but if two people want something and they know they won’t find it anywhere else, it’s worth however much they want to spend.”

Speaking in 2018, Ken called the room where he housed all the programmes his “Aladdin’s cave” where he happily spent hours poring over each one and reminiscing.

He added: “Swindon Town are my favourite team and I’ve got a lot of fond memories of the club.”