The university students who turned into retro kit entrepreneurs

Portrait of Robbie Earle, Neil Sullivan and Marcus Gayle of Wimbledon in their National shirts

The final year of university is based around students finding their first step in embarking on their desired career.

And for two 2006 University of Manchester final-year students, their leap into the world of full-time work stemmed from a fancy-dress party.

That’s right, a party.

Doug Bierton, who studied business management at the university, attended the gathering as former striker Paul Gascoigne.

He bought an England Italia 90 away shirt from a charity shop for £5 before selling it for £50 on eBay soon after the party, gaining a £45 profit.

He joined forces with course-mate Matt Dale who was keen on the idea of buying and selling shirts to form a collection.

Soon enough, they created ‘Classic Football Shirts’, a business whereby they would do exactly that.

They began collecting, created a website and stored these shirts in their student house which was located in Fallowfield.

They spent their free time searching the internet for replica shirts which could be sold on meaning they could buy more.

And now the website offers the chance for people to contact them if they want to sell on their tops.
Doug is also helped by his brother Gary Bierton who recalled the early days of CFS, telling BBC: “Me and my brother watched Champions League football growing up.

"Everyone else had the Manchester United home shirt, but my brother would have the third shirt from some weird and wonderful foreign team. You could find those shirts in the back of magazines, but not if you were going shopping with your mum and dad. That's where the curiosity stemmed from.

Andy Cole of Manchester United

"The first few months were pretty terrible. I remember going to watch Liverpool play Manchester United at Old Trafford and went to their house before the game. At 15, I remember having more money than them.

"They were almost malnourished, eating basic food, because everything was spent on shirts. There were no sales, no money, a grey Manchester sky and them just buried away in this student house.

"But they were so resolute. In any normal company, you have to satisfy other people's terms. This was just two people doing something they love, on their terms, with the excitement of handling football shirts.

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"They sat in the living room all day on laptops searching, buying and selling. We would go on nights out, come back at 3am, pick the laptop up and start working."

CFS currently have 25,000 vintage shirts on their website alongside 9,000 lines of clearance stock.

It doesn’t stop there either as they also have a match-worn player collection which adds another 15,000 tops to their collection.

They even opened a pop-up shop at the Albert Dock in Liverpool earlier this month.

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Unbelievable.

Gary then added: "It feels brand new because every day you are constantly discovering new things, we are always on the hunt.

"In 20 years, we'll probably all be married and divorced because we think about football shirts too much. It's a hobby that has gone out of control and turned into an obsession.

"And there's one conclusion that dawned on us a long time ago: We are completists in an area where 100% doesn't exist."

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