Priory Collection of sports memorabilia
The Priory Collection of sports memorabilia is “one of the largest private collections of sporting memorabilia in the world” and is displayed using an internet-based virtual sports museum. The collection is owned by Nigel Wray.
Nigel William Wray (1948-present) is a British entrepreneur and owner of Saracens FC rugby club.
Wray has been described as ‘Britain’s most successful living investor’ and ‘serial investor and entrepreneur’. He is reported to be worth £250 million.
In 1995, Wray bought a stake in Saracens and provided significant financial backing to the club.
The collection, put together by Wray over the last 25 years, has been described as “arguably the most significant collection of eclectic sports memorabilia in Europe”.
It consists of four categories – football, cricket, rugby, and Olympic/other sports.
The football category contains several items of note, including the kit Sir Stanley Matthews wore in the 1953 FA Cup Final between Blackpool and Bolton Wanderers (often referred to as the Matthews’ Final).
Another highlight is a ball used in the first World Cup final, played between Uruguay and Argentina in Montevideo, on 30th July 1930.
Both sides provided a ball, but neither could agree which to use. Ultimately, each half was played with a different ball.
The ball in the collection was employed in the second half. It was used to score the winning goals and provided by the champions, Uruguay.
Another notable item is the shirt Bobby More famously swapped with Pele after a 1970 World Cup group match in Mexico.
According to the virtual-museum website, the cricket collection has “unique items which have enormous historic significance”.
These include Douglas Jardine’s Harlequin cap worn during the infamous Bodyline series of 1932/33 and the bat used by Sir Ian Botham to score 149 not out against Australia in the 1981 Headingly Test.
The rugby collection boasts Jason Robinson’s rugby league and union shirts from his World Cup finals, the only player to have done so, and the Carolin Papers, a diary and photographic album of the player’s memories of the first ever Springboks tour in 1906/7.
The Olympic/Other sports category contains notable miscellaneous items including the megaphone and top hat used by the official starter of the London 1908 Olympics athletic events, and what the website describes as “a fine collection of Olympic torches”.
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