An English sports journalist has revealed how a love of Norman Whiteside saw him bid on, and win, a pair of white shorts worn by the Northern Ireland legend at the 1982 World Cup.
Oliver Holt, who is chief sports writer for the Mail on Sunday, recounted in a piece written yesterday how he won Whiteside’s shorts at an auction of sporting memorabilia from his career last Wednesday.
The auction saw Whiteside put many items — such as shirts from important games like the 1985 FA Cup final, medals, a ball and the shorts — up for sale and raised £253,084 overall.
Holt, who has worked for the Mail on Sunday since 2015, was on his way to the north of England to visit his parents when he stopped off at a service station and discovered the auction, run by Ewbank’s in Surrey, when he opened his laptop.
“I had typed in the address of the auction site before I left,” he wrote in the Mail piece. “I wanted to log in and let my mind wander back to the 1982 World Cup.”
While initially Holt wanted to bid on one of the marquee items, such as Whiteside’s Manchester United shirt from that ’85 final, or a pair of green Northern Ireland shorts, but neither fell within his price range.
Instead, what did fall his way were the shorts from the ’82 World Cup with Whiteside’s No.16 on the front left, worn against either Honduras or Austria. “I felt inordinately pleased,” wrote Holt, before adding: “I told (my mum) about Norman’s shorts and she laughed.”
He even contacted a journalist friend on our shores to show him his prize, to which his friend responded with a picture of the front page of our own publication showing just how much Whiteside had earned overall.
So, why were the items, and, more importantly, Whiteside himself, so special to Holt?
The journalist’s love of Whiteside came from that ’82 World Cup in Spain, when Northern Ireland reached the second group stage and Whiteside himself became the youngest player to appear in a World Cup finals match, a record he still holds to this day.
Holt was an avid Manchester United fan growing up and it was the Northern Irish maestro who “fast became (his) favourite player” off the back of that World Cup.
“I saw him play almost every week over the next few years before I went away to university,” Holt writes. “I loved his combative style and, as is the way when you have heroes, I felt I could appreciate things in his game that others could not.
“I was convinced he never got the credit he deserved.”