Made like a Victorian dress shirt in a heavy, white wool flannelette with a blue and white polka dot cotton trim, it includes a label reading Manufactured by E Banks, shirt maker Middlesboro. The badge inscribed MFC Erimus is hand embroidered.
London sporting memorabilia specialist Graham Budd concluded the shirt, which had survived in remarkably good condition, had to date from before 1890 as that was the year the club (established in 1876) changed its colours, first to an all-blue shirt, then to all-white and finally to the red of today.
He said: “I find it fascinating that this actually bears a badge beautifully embroidered on the breast pocket with the MFC logo, so I would also imagine that the shirt could have held some special significance to either club or player.”
Estimated at £15,000-20,000, it took £16,000 (plus 24% buyer’s premium) on March 7. It was offered by a private collector and bought by a private online buyer.
Middlesbrough FC turned professional in 1889 for three years before reverting to amateur, then became permanently full time in 1899.