A guide to buying football badges ( soccer pins ) in England
A few people have contacted me who plan to visit England and asked where they can buy football badges in person. Well this is a very difficult question to answer, but I have attempted to produce a guide that may help these people. The information was correct at the time of writing to the best of my knowledge, but I cannot be held responsible for anything that has changed or is wrong.
Throughout this page I refer to official and unofficial football badges. By official I mean that the production and sale of the badge has been approved by the club or organisation that the badge represents. By unofficial I mean that the badge was produced without the club or organisation's permission, in many cases such badges will contravene copyright laws. However in some instances unofficial badges are far superior in design to their official counterparts.
This guide is intended for visitors who like to see what they are buying before they buy it. It does not deal with mail order purchases. It does tend to concentrate on London, but only because this is one of the areas of the country I am most familiar with for buying badges personally, and also because most visitors to England find themselves in London at some time during their visit.
Please click any of the photos to magnify them.
The surest way of finding some badges is to visit a club shop. Most Premiership and Nationwide clubs have souvenir shops located at their grounds. A number of clubs also have shops in the town centre of their own town, and possibly in other nearby towns. For instance, Ipswich Town have a shop in Bury St Edmunds. Most of these shops are open Monday to Saturday. If the shop adjoins the ground, it may be best avoided on a match day as you might have to queue to get in. As a rule you will only be able to purchase new badges, and they will only sell badges for their own clubs. The badges will of course be official. Another good source is non-league club shops. These will normally only be open when there is a match on, and often they are situated inside the ground, which may mean you need to pay to get into the match before you can visit the shop. Non-league club shops will always sell their own badge if they have one, but may also sell other badges including League, Non-League and in some instances Foreign.
Around many of the Premiership and top Nationwide side's stadiums on a match day you will find small stalls set up selling souvenirs including badges. Also you will find people selling nothing but badges, which they sell off of boards. Most of these badges will be unofficial, but there will be badges from all clubs, with many designs available for the home club. As stated earlier many of them will be as good quality as the official ones, but it should be remembered that in years to come, unofficial badges are less likely to increase in value than official ones. Sometimes you will see the local authorities or police trying to move these badge sellers on, but don't worry no one ever got in trouble for buying from them. I would recommend thoroughly inspecting the badges before purchase, and pay special attention to the fittings which are sometimes damaged.
This is a general source of frustration. There are very few shops, not specifically owned by football clubs, where you can go in and buy football badges.
General sports shops are worth a look, but it is highly unlikely you will find anything.
A chain of shops called Birthdays, who sell greeting cards, often have a football section where you may find some poor quality official badges for some of the larger teams. You can find these shops all over the country.
In London's Carnaby Street area, W1, nearest Underground station Oxford Circus, you will find a store called Soccer Scene. This shop used to stock the best selection of badges that I knew of in London, however things seem to have gone downhill of late, there seemed to be little new badge stock when I last visited. The shop is located at 56-57 Carnaby Street. This shop does tend to get crowded at the weekends. There is also a shop owned by the same company called Rugby Scene located in the same street. In addition there is now a Soccer Scene shop in Oxford Street, when I visited this shop last, January 2003, there was quite a few unofficial loose badges for sale, and also bubble packed badges for Premier League teams.
|The Soccer Scene shop in Carnaby Street.|
During the 2002 World Cup a general souvenir shop was selling several unofficial World Cup badges in Charing Cross Road, London. This particular shop was just up the road from where the House of Football is (or was) located, walking towards Tottenham Court Road. The shop had a special table outside permanently manned by someone selling the World Cup badges. Presumably this will cease at the end of the World Cup.
In the Commercial Street, E1, area of London, nearest Underground stations Liverpool Street or Shoreditch, you will find a few shops specialising in soccer souvenirs. A lot of these shops sell unofficial football badges. You will need to buy in bulk to be allowed to purchase anything here, and it will be a good idea to try and negotiate the price, rather than paying the initial asking price. Some of these shops may be shut on a Saturday. Even if the shop looks shut it will be worth knocking on the door as you may get an answer. One such shop is Football Crazy at 137, Commercial Street.
I have located stalls selling new football badges as some of the following places :
Petticoat Lane market which is held on a Sunday. This market is actually held in a street called Middlesex Street, E1, which is opposite Liverpool Street Mainline and Underground station. Walking from Liverpool Street station about half way along the street on the left there is a stall selling football souvenirs, in the past I have bought British official and unofficial badges from here, and also some foreign badges. The stall is number 162, and is located on the corner of Wentworth Street.
There are a number of stalls located along Oxford Street, W1, which sell badges. I have had the most success at the stalls at the Marble Arch end of the street, nearest Underground stations are Bond Street or Marble Arch. Try the stall at the corner of Marylebone Lane, and also another one at the Park Lane junction, right next to Marble Arch tube. Most badges are unofficial, but some date back to the 70s.
|One of the Oxford Street stalls.|
There is also a stall in Leicester Square, WC2, selling a few new unofficial badges, nearest Underground station is Leicester Square itself. The stall is near Warner Brothers cinema and Burger King, by Bear Street.
|The stall near Warner Brothers cinema in Leicester Square.|
I have had good finds at all of the following markets, but I have also had many days looking round them when I have found nothing at all. Good luck!
Brick Lane market, E1, this is held on a Sunday in London's East End, not far from the Petticoat Lane market. Nearest Underground station is Shoreditch. Ignore the fruit, vegetable and clothes stalls along Brick Lane itself, and take a look at the stalls and warehouses along Cheshire Street. Also worth a look is Bethnal Green Road, E2, on the outskirts of the market, where you will find several individuals selling all sorts of bits and pieces from the pavement.
|Cheshire Street, just off Brick Lane.|
Camden Passage antique market, Angel, Islington, N1. Not to be confused with Camden Lock market. Check this out on a Saturday. There are also many antique shops in the area open other days of the week. Nearest Underground station is The Angel. Turn right when leaving the station. Then after a short walk turn off to the right. You will find legitimate stalls in the market, plus one or two individuals who turn up to sell off of the floor without a licence.
Camden Lock market, Camden Town, NW1. Nearest Underground station is Camden Town, or get off a stop early at Mornington Crescent and beat the crush. This market is on a Saturday and Sunday, and attracts thousands of people, it gets extremely busy. If getting off at Mornington Crescent then head for Camden High Street, and keep walking. If getting off the Tube at Camden Town turn right outside the station. There are some interesting collectibles stalls on the right just over the canal. On the other side of the road there are several indoor stalls located in the Stables building.
Portobello Road Market, W11. Nearest Underground stations Ladbroke Grove or Notting Hill Gate. A market is held on Friday and Saturday. There are also many antique shops in the area.
Covent Garden, WC2. Nearest Underground is Covent Garden. On a Monday the old fruit and veg market hosts antique stalls.
Church Street, Edgware, W2. Nearest Underground is Edgware Road. A guide book I have claims this market is on every day, I've only attended on a Saturday though. Nearby is Alfie's Antique centre at 13-25 Church Street, and I now at least one dealer there has had football badges hidden away in his stock somewhere.
Charing Cross Station, WC2. Actually located at the main line train station. Enter the station from Villiers Street to find the market. Saturday mornings only. You should hopefully find football badges of some description here, as well as football programmes, and badges from other fields. This market is based on one held previously at London Bridge station a few years ago, unfortunately a lot smaller in its new location.
Militaria Market, Angel, Islington, N1. Just held on a Saturday morning as far as I know. Nearest Underground station is The Angel. When heading for Camden Passage market (described above) from the Tube station, you will pass this specialist market on the right. It is located in a basement, next door to a foreign money exchange premises. The actual address of the premises which hosts the market is The Angel Arcade, 118, Islington High Street. As the market name suggests it deals mostly military memorabilia, but I have found football badges in the past.
|The Angel Arcade, home of the Saturday morning Militaria Market.|
These are a certainty for finding football badges. Unfortunately they are very infrequent, and are scattered all over the country. To my knowledge these events are only organised by The Association of Football Badge Collectors, or by the Badge Collectors Circle.
The AFBC holds a yearly Annual General Meeting which is really just a swap meet with a small formal section to it. It is always held outside the English football season. It is usually held in the social club of a major English club. The location of the last meeting (2000) was Coventry City's stadium. The AFBC also organise a few mini meets around the country. Find out about AFBC events on their web site.
The Badge Collectors Circle is an organisation for collectors of any sorts of badges. Whenever I have attended any of their events there have been plenty of football badges on offer.
These occur regularly around the country, normally held at football clubs. As the name suggests they concentrate mostly on programmes. However there is normally a badge or two on offer, so they are always worth a look. It is always a good idea to contact the venue in advance before travelling, just to check the fair hasn't been cancelled.
There seems to be a growing trend for football or general sports auctions. These must be worth a look for the serious badge collector. I will attempt to list any future ones I hear of.
These are held all over the country and are normally free to enter. Well worth a look, I have had some success in the past. Mostly held on a Sunday morning, get there early or you may miss out. Check the local papers for details.
I have heard from a number of readers of these web pages about their own shops and market stalls. I have listed them here but please note I have not visited them myself. If anyone else wants an entry here I would be happy to oblige in return for a few free samples of some of the badges they sell!
See feedback from visitors to this page.