How To Photo Match Match Worn Shirts

Photo-matching game-worn shirts are a key part of the work when we get match-worn shirts in stock. In simple terms, photo matching allows you to prove or disprove if a shirt was worn in a specific game. In some cases, it can be impossible to determine either way. Here, I'll show you the process to verify our shirts to specific games. 

At times it is easier to prove it wasn't match worn than it was! 

Tips on photo-matching shirts

  • Newer shirts are easier to match as there are more high-quality photos of modern games.
  • Dirty shirts are easier to match, so don't wash them!
  • Shirts with patterns can be easier to match than plain shirts

How We Match Shirts To Games

Firstly, we need to know the game in which the shirt was worn. If you don't know this, here are the steps to take to trim down the list of possible matches - 

  1. Check the shirts sleeve patches, these will usually give you the tournament it was used in. 
  2. Find when that shirt was worn in that tournament
  3. Check these games for when the player on the back played
  4. The first filter is to check if they wore short sleeves or long sleeves in the games

Once you have done this, you have a list of possible games, now we go through the games looking for the following things. 

1 - The Obvious

This is the first check to ensure that the shirt has the right sponsor in the right place and the right sleeve patches on both sleeves. It is a quick check to rule out anything glaring, like missing sleeve patches or match details. 

2 - Check to match any dirt marks

Dirt marks are the best thing to check; it would be almost impossible to recreate the same dirt mark on a shirt. Here are some examples of our level of confidence. 

A photo match on a very dirty shirt

This shirt came to me as a match worn with from the FA Cup semi-final. The shirt was handed to a fan at the end of the game, who later sold it to me.

Here is the shirt's front

Arsenal 2016/2017 Match Worn Home Shirt - Front

The first check for the obvious showed that he played in a short sleeve shirt for this game. 

Search Getty Images

Getting Images is one of the best places to find match photos. You can also use Alamy and Google image search. After a quick search, we found this image where the dirt mark on the front perfectly matched - 

As well as a video of the fan being given the shirt this was conclusive enough for a perfect match on the dirt. (This shirt has now been sold). 

Another example

This shirt came to me as a player's shirt. It was still dirty and had tape around the sleeve. After working through the games, it was identified as a match-worn shirt v Barcelona. The Pope had died before the game, and black armbands were not available, so all the players had black tape around their arms. We were able to photo-match this to the game with the dirt and the placement and tearing of the tape! Here is the shirt - 

And here is the tape 

This was one of the more unique photo matches we've done!

Proving A Shirt Isn't Match Worn

It is quite common for us to be able to prove that a shirt is not match-worn as claimed. 

Here is an example

The shirt came to us as worn v Manchester United in the Real Madrid v Manchester United game in 2003 and was worn by Claude Makelele. We proved that this shirt was not worn by the Champions League star ball on the sleeve. These are very good for photo matching as they can be different and at different angles on the shirt. 

Here is the one on the shirt we have - 

And here is Makelele's in the game

On close inspection, you can see that the stars are not the same on the match shirt as the shirt we have, which proves very quickly that it is not a match-worn shirt. 

We hope this has helped you in identifying match worn shirts!

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