Liverpool football legend Ray Lambert’s lifelong collection of medals and memorabilia - including his first LFC contract from 1939 - are expected to sell for more than £16,000 at auction.
Lambert, who was born in Bagilt, Flintshire, Wales, joined the Reds as an amateur schoolboy at the age of 13 in 1936 – and set the record for being the youngest ever player to join a league side.
He impressed Liverpool manager George Kay and signed professional forms on his 17th birthday in 1939. That first contract, which confirms his wage of £5 per week, plus £1 extra for a first team appearance, together with two other early contracts from 1946 and 1950, will go under the hammer at Hansons Auctioneers on August 22 with an estimate of £150-£250.
Hansons’ sports valuer Alistair Lofley said: “In 1939, £5 was equivalent to around £324. Players in Liverpool’s first team today earn thousands of pounds a week - millions of pounds a year. Lambert would have been paid more than the average working man in his heyday but it was nothing compared to footballers’ wages now.”
Lambert made 308 senior appearances for Liverpool, at left or right back, until his retirement in 1956. He also played five matches for Wales.
The collection, which has been sitting at the back of a wardrobe for more than 60 years, includes Lambert’s gold 1946/47 Division 1 winners medal, estimate £5,000-£8,000, and a gold 1950 FA Cup runners-up medal, estimate £4,000-£6,000. He helped the Reds reach their first ever Wembley final that year.
Other items mark his international career and include two Welsh senior international caps, estimate £400-£600 each, a 1936 Wales Schoolboy International Cap, estimate £100-£150, and a Wales Schools Football Association shirt, estimate £100-£200. In addition, there are three more football-related gold medals, an enamelled silver medal and silver plate trophy, estimate £400-£600.
But that’s not all. Mr Lofley said Liverpool fans and collectors would be particularly attracted by rare items of ephemera. This includes a 1951 Liverpool FC itinerary for a tour in Sweden and a programme for a celebration dinner held by LFC at the city’s Adelphi Hotel after they won the First Division Championship in 1965-66. It’s signed by star names at the event such as fellow Liverpool legend Bob Paisley. In total, the entire collection has a top guide price of more than £16,000.
Mr Lofley said: “This is an absolute treasure trove of memorabilia relating to a sportsman who spent his entire career with Liverpool from the age of 13 and become a great favourite with the Anfield crowd.
“Ray Lambert kept everything relating to the club and the career he loved and some of those items are very rare. I’m sure many Liverpool fans would love to own them.”
A member of Ray Lambert’s family, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “He was a very humble man and his football medals and items relating to his achievements have been tucked away at the back of a wardrobe for decades. Some of it was stuck in a plastic tub.
“No one can see his medals, early football contracts, photos and other important historical items there, so we decided to sell. We hope Liverpool or Wales fans or, perhaps, a sports museum, will buy them and display them for everyone to enjoy.”
After retiring from football, Ray Lambert ran a newsagent in Garden City, Deeside. He died at the age of 87 in 2009.
Ray Lambert’s memorabilia will be sold on August 22 at a Football in Focus Auction at Hansons Auctioneers, Heage Lane, Etwall, Derbyshire DE65 6LS. To find out more, email [email protected].
Football in Focus Auctions
Hansons holds regular Football in Focus and Sports Memorabilia Auctions. To arrange a free valuation, email [email protected] or call 01283 733988.