Meet the man who started a business in his Sheffield bedroom which is now a million pound concern

Dan Hoyland loves getting shirty. Especially if it is a shirt worn by a footballer because that means business and so does he.

Saturday, 21st May 2022, 8:16 am

The 32-year-old, who was born in Sheffield, runs a million pound company which specialises in memorabilia - signed football shirts, boots, snooker balls and anything else you can get a name on.

What started in his bedroom has become Redtooth Memorabilia, which owns The Fan Cave in Meadowhall and ran the Ronnie O’Sullivan pop-up shop during the world snooker championship.

Dan, who lives in Waverley, is the managing director.

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Dan Hoyland is MD of Fan Cave which has a store at Meadowhall.

He has always had an eye for business. “I used to go on holiday and come back with a suitcase full of football shirts and sold them over the bar. Anything to make money.”

He could do that because his dad David worked for Marstons and he’s been around pubs for as long as he can remember.

Dan worked at the Fairway pub in Birley and the Howard in the city centre as a pot washer and cleaning the lines.

He went to school at Handsworth Grange before going to Norton College and then Hallam University.

Fan Cave at Meadowhall is packed with memorabilia.

PE was his focus. “I was limited academically, I didn’t get on with it, I scraped through by the skin of my teeth.

“I wanted to become a PE teacher and did a BTec in sport and coaching before doing a degree in sports development.”

After leaving education, he coached sport in Sheffield parks for the council and worked with schools as a teaching assistant, doing pastoral care and behaviour management.

Football remained his love and Owls fan Dan was playing football in the Northern Counties league for teams including Hallam, Rossington and Dronfield.

Former world champion boxer Mike Tyson remains an iconic figure.

Aged 26, he had a lightbulb moment. A physio had a signed shirt which he wanted to get rid of. Dan gave him £20 for it and sold it for £100.

He was then introduced to a company which bought memorabilia. Dan was given a picture of Owls legend David Hirst and told he could have it for nothing if he put what he made into buying more.

Dan sold it for £100, went back to the company and the conversation turned to events. He put one on for 100 people at the Royal Victoria hotel in Sheffield which featured ex-Owls and Manchester United manager Ron Atkinson.

That introduced him to wholesalers of memorabilia and he made money on the event.

Fan Cave also features comic heroes like Spider-Man

Dan also had a link to Wednesday and England legend Chris Waddle through playing football which led him back to David Hirst and onto fellow Owls star John Sheridan. Connections help.

“After six months it went stupid,” he says.

“I was working nine to four with schools and then driving round dropping off boots and pictures. They are easier to carry so there’s less cost.

“I had a flat in Handsworth and the bedroom was back to front frames of signed stuff.”

It was April 2018 and time to take the plunge of making the business, which was then called Steel City Memorabilia, full-time.

“It takes a lot of bottle to quit a full-time job when you’ve got a mortgage and bills to pay but I decided to take a risk,” he admits.

Al Pacino signed this model of a car featured in The Godfather.

“Work was getting frustrated with me because I was always on the phone selling so I talked to the wholesaler and they gave me a three month supply if I bought my stock from them.”

He was backed by his partner Anna-Lucia Ciccone, an English teacher. She’s the mum of his two-year-old son Luca and is pregnant with their second child.

“Anna was really supportive. She said if it goes wrong, we’ll be fine, you’ll get another job,” he recalls.

“I threw myself into it. The initial thing was to create events with footballers but that is stressful.

“I was told to mind my place, don’t get involved, my place was at the bottom, feeding the chain upwards. I never got on with that and even though I had no funds I approached Meadowhall about a shop.”

Emboldened by the conversation, Dan borrowed money. “I took out a loan, had an overdraft,” he recalls.

In January 2019 he opened the Meadowhall shop.

“They wanted a different name, not so local so we thought about Man Cave, but that’s sexist so we went for Fan Cave,” he says.

“It became quite popular, we still did events and raised money for charity.”

There was interest from Redtooth, the pub poker league, which led to a football evening that made £18,000 for charity. All the time, Dan’s reputation was growing and it got to a point where he was able to bring a Barnsley framing firm into the business.

“We were growing and growing, but when Covid hit we had to change our approach,” he reveals.

“We had used a wholesaler from a bigger company to get to people like Messi. It got to the point where we did this on our own.

“We got Kevin De Bruyne and Phil Foden, our reputation reached new heights. It led to Mason Mount, Declan Rice, Sergio Aguero and Harry Maguire.”

He likes other sports too and put on a pop-up shop with snooker star Ronnie O’Sullivan. Guess who he wanted to win the world championship?

“Don’t get involved emotionally, I was told, but if he won I knew what would happen,” he says.

This is not a business for the faint-hearted. “It takes a lot of trust and money, there’s a lot of risk involved.”

The average spend at the Fan Cave is £178, which seems amazing when everyone is talking about the cost of living crisis.

“We offer affordable luxury,” says Dan.

“Famous people are detached from normal life. Their fans are fanatical and having something from them means a lot to people.

“That’s part of the reason we are doing ok. It is a game of trust, so many are doing this but they are not doing it right.

“It is about transparency, authenticity is everything. I’m not trying to hide, people know where I am but some people are buying stuff without knowing anything of its origin.”

The safe bets are memorabilia from football legends such as Rooney, Cantona, Messi, Ronaldo and Pele.

A signed Ronnie O’Sullivan ball starts at £50, a signed football shirt can go for £445.

There’s other memorabilia, including a promotional poster for Back To The Future with signed photo which he’s pictured holding.

As this is Holywood, the cost starts to climb. A Val Kilmer signed model of the Batmobile is £895. A model of a car featured in The Godfather, signed by Al Pacino, is priced £1150.

“I’m always looking for the next thing,” says Dan.

“It has been difficult to get here from being at school with no direction to falling on something I enjoy and turn it into a business.”

The business turned over more than £1,000,000 last year and is now in its third year.

Thanks to it, Dan owns a Range Rover and wears a Breitling watch.

“I had a tick list of what I wanted to buy - a nice car and a nice watch. Now it is about growing,” he says.

“I’d like to get into the food and beverage business, sports bars, try and do something no-one else has.”

He’s been picking the brain of sports agent Harlad Werner, who worked with Mohammed Ali.

“Harland did things other people didn’t want to and that’s what made him different.”

It might be sport, it might be property. Whatever it is, Dan wants to excel.

“Do everything right so when my boy gets older he doesn’t have to do what I did.”

A Val Kilmer signed model of the Batmobile costs £895.
Fan Cave at Meadowhall is packed with sporting memorabilia.
The exterior of the Fan Cave shop at Meadowhall.