I have never been keen on adorning my walls with the odd framed rugby or football shirt from a sporting star, but give me an old pair of leather riding boots or a cricket ball any day! Yes, I am the woman with a bowl of cricket balls by the backdoor. I just love the colour and the texture. This is my kind of sporting memorabilia!
This decorative ‘art form’ of our past sporting glories is big business these days. They hark back to an era when the sports were played by amateurs for pleasure and for pride.
The workmanship you see in these handcrafted items is quite remarkable. When you look at the old leather footballs and how they were crafted in leather and hand-stitched, then feel the weight of each ball, it is remarkable that men managed to play the ‘beautiful game’ with any skill at all.
I still have my mother’s tennis racket that she won at school when she was 12 years old. Wooden framed and leather binding on the handle, with cat gut strings. By today’s standards you would need to workout in the gym before you even attempted to play any form of tennis! When you look at the design and the handpainted lines around the rim and handle you see the beauty in this old object.
A dear friend of mine has an Oxford Blue for rowing in his younger years. He has proudly carried his oar around from house-to-house and never had a length of wall long enough to display his sporting highlight! When I suggested he should cut the oar down and leave the beautifully inscribed blade so that he could display it on the wall of this study, he said that it had never occurred to him! Now after 35 years it hangs in pride of place for all to see and to be enjoyed.
I think the key with sporting memorabilia from a bygone age, is to find a new way of incorporating them into your everyday home.
For instance the old beautiful suede top of an old gym horse is not the first item you’d think about when you want a coffee table or bench! I’m sure we all hauled ourselves over these in our navy gym slips in an ungainly fashion when younger, but now in their new guise, I find them irresistible.
Old football boots and polo sticks find a new life hanging behind the door at the end of this long corridor. An overhead light catches them, highlighting their edges. This way they provide some relief to an otherwise blank dead end.
Old silver trophies add a reflective surface to a room. They work so well amongst books on shelves helping to break up the space.
I love old sporting boards with the beautifully inscribed names and dates that hark back to past sporting highlights from an old school or university. These can now be used to panel a boot or cloakroom or highlight an alcove in a room.
Old leather riding boots with their owner’s wooden boot lasts still in place, wait patiently beside the back door, whilst overhead hang saddle racks with their architectural form, castings shadows on the pale walls.
No matter what your style this form of memorabilia can easily add character and a little humour to a home.