When you collect football memorabilia, it pays to have a keen eye. Gavin Boyd collects classic World Cup footballs, and when he saw an Adidas Telstar Durlast from the 1974 tournament for sale in a recent online auction, he knew something wasn’t right.

“There was a ball they said was from the 1974 World Cup, a Telstar Durlast, but it wasn’t from the ’74 World Cup,” Boyd tells Bleacher Report. “There was a slight difference. The same ball was used in 1976, and it was actually a 1976 ball that was being advertised. The letters of the word ‘Adidas’ are slightly bigger, and the words ‘made in France’ are more over to the right of the panel than central.”

The same attention to detail has enabled Boyd to winkle out fake balls put up for sale on auction sites by scammers attempting to dupe collectors. On one occasion, he realised a ball advertised as an Adidas Tango from 1984 was a fake because the second D in Adidas was in the wrong position in relation to the brand’s trefoil logo. It saved him from being conned out of over $1,000. “It’s wee things like that that you pick up with experience,” he says.

Boyd, who lives in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, developed an interest in classic footballs after watching Hero: The Official Film of the 1986 FIFA World Cup, at the age of 13. He finds them on online auction sites and has also acquired a few match-used balls from retired referees. Fearful the balls will lose their shape or colour, he stores them in cardboard boxes at the back of a wardrobe.

“Ultraviolet light does the damage—it yellows the balls,” Boyd says. “I’d only ever put them on display if I could get a room with very little ultraviolet light coming in. I’ve got a 1978 ball, and it’s as white as the day it was made.”

Boyd obtained that ball—an original Adidas Tango—from an Italian collector for €5,500 ($6,144). Balls used in historic matches go for even higher amounts. The one used in the 1892 FA Cup final sold for £15,000 ($18,790) at auction in 2012, while one of the Adidas Jabulani balls that was kicked around the Soccer City pitch in Johannesburg by Spain and the Netherlands in the 2010 World Cup final went for $74,000.   Continue reading

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