Sir Chips with replica of first Highbury match programme

A match programme from Arsenal’s first ever game at Highbury in 1913 against Leicester Fosse could be sold for as much as £10,000.

The programme, which was owned by a private collector and is described as being in excellent condition, is to be auctioned by Lockdales in Ipswich on September 14,

James Sadler, a football programmes expert and Lockdales’ auction manager, said: “This is so exciting. I’ve only ever seen one before – and it’s in excellent condition.”

A top London dealer, who did not want to be named, said: “I think it will go for close on £10,000 – if only I could afford it!”

Chris Elmy, of Lockdales, said: “This is Programme No 1 Vol 1. The first ever game played at Highbury – Woolwich Arsenal v Leicester Fosse, September 6, 1913. It’s very rare and in original condition.”

The estimate for Lot 3033 is £800 to £850, but he believes it will go for a lot more.

“It is so rare that Arsenal Football Club doesn’t even have one,” said Mr Elmy.

“Early football programmes are difficult to evaluate as they are worth whatever the most fanatical collectors are willing to pay on the day.

“They might never see another example put up for sale of a particular game.

“The majority of programmes produced before the war have been lost over the years and this one survived both the First and Second World War, making it so unusual.”

John Hutchinson, Leicester City FC’s official historian and archivist, researched the 1913 fixture, which Arsenal won 2-1, for Leicester City’s centenary last year.

To mark the occasion, he and City commercial director Dr Ian Flanagan were invited to the Emirates Stadium, which has been Arsenal’s home since 2006.

Arsenal chairman Sir Chips Keswick presented the pair with a framed facsimile of the first Highbury programme, which is now on display at the King Power Stadium.

Commenting on the original, John said: “This is a truly remarkable and significant piece of football history.

“It has always been a matter of pride and interest that Leicester Fosse were the first team to appear at Highbury and that our Tommy Benfield scored the first ever goal there.

“To come across a programme from that historic game is truly remarkable.

“I think it is likely to go for much more than the catalogue value.”

A spokesman for Arsenal FC said: “We would dearly love to have this remarkable programme in our museum.”