Independent graphic designer and football fan Mike Douglas has launched 'Project Restart'. A beautifully curated book that documents his collection of memorabilia, ahead of it all being auctioned off for charity.

Mike, like most football fans is a hoarder. A fan that keeps the tickets , the tournament merchandise, books, magazines and of course football shirts. Whether it's because they represent a moment of triumph like a last minute goal, a favourite player, or even just because of its aesthetics.

We caught up with Mike to find out more about his project and how it has raised funds and awareness for a charity close to him.



CK: Mike, for our readers – can you just tell us a bit more about you and how ‘Project Restart’ started?

MD: I'm an independent graphic designer and lifelong football fan. I was born in the North East of England but grew up in Aberdeen, so my first experience of football was in the late '80s, going to watch the likes of Charlie Nicolas, Willie Miller & Theo Snelders at Pittodrie. In my teens, through family trips back to the North East, I fell in love with Newcastle United, bought myself a season ticket, and regularly travelled to home matches from Aberdeen. I then moved to London in my mid-20's and have been going to the majority of Newcastle away games ever since.





The bulk of my collection happened very organically. As a child, I prioritised kit design over club loyalty. If a team had a great looking strip, a cool sponsor, and Intersport stocked it, I was sold. From my teens to early 20's I went all-in buying every home and away kit Newcastle released. As a die-hard support and Adidas super-fan, those mid-90's kits were the absolute benchmark. In my 30's I worked away and did some travelling, so the shirts I bought were mainly as mementoes from those trips. It was then I started to source some of the all-time classic tops I'd always liked, like Fiorentina's 1998 Fila home kit with the Nintendo logo on the front.







CK: So what is the purpose of Project Restart.

MD: When I bought a house a few years ago, it was the first time my collection had all been under one roof. It was brilliant to go through it all, but it felt slightly wasted and under-celebrated hidden in boxes. So, when lockdown hit, I decided to do something creative with it all. My original ambition was to document everything through a website and book. Through their inherent accessibility, I could make my collection more available for others to enjoy. But, when lockdown provided the ultimate opportunity to take stock and re-prioritise, I decided to go a step further and give the whole lot away!







I’ve now auctioned the items to provide new kit and equipment for my old school team., and the rest I donated to The Sporting Memories Foundation and Football Memories Scotland who have regular meets to help people with dementia, depression, and loneliness unlock sporting memories.

The project's been a real labour of love. It's taken about 6 months from the initial idea to putting the website live – but it's been the most brilliant process and was the perfect tonic for lockdown.





CK: That’s an incredible thing todo – but do you have any regrets in selling any particular items?

MD: I genuinely have no regrets about giving everything away. I know the items I auctioned went to fellow collectors, so they're in safe hands. And the things I donated to charity are getting a second lease of life and making a real difference to people, and that's incredibly satisfying.

The only item I did keep was a 1987-1990 Aberdeen goalkeeper shirt signed by my first footballing hero Theo Snelders. I plan to get it framed and display it somewhere – it's my favourite item of the collection, and 30 years on, I still adore that man!



CK: Has giving away your collection got you thinking about starting all over again?

MD: I can't see myself starting a new collection. It might be down to age, lockdown, or falling out with modern football a little, but I don't have the same relationship with football as I used to. I still get excited when the big tournaments come around, so I'll inevitably try and find a classic Scotland top for this summer's Euros, but I'll be perfectly content to pass it on afterwards.







CK: Are you going to make the book available for wider purchase?

MD: I purposely only made a single print run of the book, and it takes pride of place in my lounge. I hope it'll trigger several conversations and nostalgic memories when friends and family visit. I've really enjoyed putting the collection online, though, for other people to enjoy. If the project kickstarts even one person to do something creative or worthwhile with their collection, I'd be delighted!

I bet there are so many brilliant shirts locked away in attics. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it's that we should celebrate those good times and more actively share those memories!

CK: What’s the interest in the project been like?

MD: Within 24 hours of the website going live, it had over 2,000 unique visitors from over 40 countries, from as far afield as Japan, The Philippines, New Zealand and Azerbaijan.

While I've been lucky to have respected football journalists say some nice things about the project, the biggest buzz has been the emails from complete strangers who've shared their memories and re-told their nostalgia stories that were triggered by seeing my collection. Those alone have made the project entirely worthwhile.


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You can see the items that made up Mike’s collection on the site he created here; It’s stunning piece of work, that lets the items featured do all the talking. Looking over this collection will be time well spent we can assure you.





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