‘Dear Nigel Martyn…’: Rediscovering the childhood letters I wrote to footballers in the '90s

A collection of footballer fan mail sent to FourFourTwo Deputy Editor Matt Ketchell in the 90s
Matt Ketchell's collection of letters and autographs received from players in the 1990s (Image credit: Matthew Ketchell)

Was my generation too polite to make big signs, hold them up at football matches and unflinchingly ask footballers: ‘CAN I HAVE YOUR SHIRT’? Or were we just not as enterprising as ‘Generation Alpha’, the latest cohort off society’s conveyor belt. 

This young group have hacked a route to money-can’t-buy matchworn shirts. Up and down the country, and across Europe, cardboard signs are yielding some of the most coveted memorabilia in the game. Some clubs like Ajax have taken the step of banning supporters from bringing them into the stadium.

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Matthew Ketchell
Deputy Editor

A former goalkeeper, Ketch joined FourFourTwo as Deputy Editor in 2022 having worked across ChronicleLive, LeedsLive, Hull Daily Mail, YorkshireLive, Teesside Gazette and the Huddersfield Examiner as a Northern Football Editor. Prior to that he was the Senior Writer at BBC Match of the Day magazine. He has interviewed the likes of Harry Kane, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Gareth Southgate and attended two World Cup finals and a Champions League final. He has been a Newcastle United season ticket holder since 2000 and has an expensive passion for collecting classic football shirts.