Whistle up an unusual football memorabilia collection with an Acme Thunderer

Programmes and medals are probably the most sought-after and familiar items for football memorabilia collectors. However, Graham Budd’s auction offers another choice.


Acme Thunderer whistle used by George Reader in the 1950 World Cup Final – estimate £1400-1600 at Graham Budd’s auction on November 5.

Among the items available in London on the second day of his November 4-5 sale are whistles used by referees in some of the biggest, most prestigious matches ever played.

The wonderfully named Acme Thunderer whistle was first developed in 1884 and has since been heard in sporting competitions all over the world. On July 16, 1950, a Thunderer was at the lips of George Reader (1896-1978) as he became the first Englishman to referee a football World Cup Final. Played at Estadio do Maracana, Rio de Janeiro, Uruguay shocked Brazil on home turf by winning 2-1.

At Graham Budd’s auction that very whistle is estimated at £1400-1600.


Acme Thunderer whistle used by Jack Taylor in the 1974 World Cup Final – estimate £900-1200 at Graham Budd’s auction on November 5.

Another World Cup Final Thunderer is offered, this time estimated at £900-1200. This example was used by a fellow English referee, Jack Taylor (1930-2012), for the 1974 showdown between fierce rivals the Netherlands and Germany. It was used intensively, in fact: Taylor awarded two penalties in the first 30 minutes. The first was after just a minute of play and was the first penalty kick ever awarded in a World Cup Final. Germany won 2-1.


Acme Thunderer whistle used by Stanley Rous in the 1934 FA Cup Final – estimate £1000-1500 at Graham Budd’s auction on November 5.

The Thunderer was by no means restricted to international games. The whistle used by referee Stanley Rous in the 1934 FA Cup Final between Manchester City and Portsmouth is estimated at £1000-1500. It is sold together with an example of a Stanley Rous signature in the form of a signed typed script letter on Football Association headed paper dated January 8, 1936. He had become a Football League referee in 1927 and just seven years later officiated in the FA Cup Final.

Sir Stanley Ford Rous CBE (1895-1986) rose to the position of the 6th president of FIFA, serving from 1961-74. He also served as secretary of the Football Association from 1934-62.

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