The London 2012 Football 50p Coin

Author: Victoria Toothill - Guest Writer

Published: 11 May 2020

Last Updated: 22 Dec 2022


As part of The London 2012 Sports Collection and the second rarest 50p in circulation, the football 50p piece is highly prized by coin collectors and football fans alike. Examples of the circulated coin regularly sell for £15-£20 online and BU coins are even more popular reaching anything from £25-£30. It is truly amazing that a 50p piece, from only 9 years ago, can have up to 60 times it's original value!

London 2012 Football 50 Pence Coin

Reverse Design

Designed by Neil Wolfson, the reverse of the coin (see image above) shows a visual explanation of the offside rule. The London 2012 logo sits in the topmost corner of the coin and beneath that are the words OFFSIDE EXPLAINED. The majority of the coin is taken up by a representation of half of a football field. Seen in bird’s-eye view, like a tactics board, the halfway and side lines, centre circle, penalty box, goal box and corners are all marked. Players are represented by shapes. Triangles represent the offensive players and squares are defensive. The ball is a circle, for obvious reasons! The denomination 50 PENCE curves around the bottom of the coin.

Olympics 50p Fourth Portrait

Obverse Design

The obverse of the coin bears the fourth portrait of The Queen. The Queen wears the "Girls of Great Britain and Ireland" diamond tiara, a wedding gift from her grandmother Queen Mary. Below the head are the artist's initials IRB (for Ian Rank-Broadley). The inscription reads:

ELIZABETH · II · D · G REG · F · D · 2011.

Interestingly, coin designer is not Neil Wolfson’s day job. He is a sports journalist and entered the Royal Mint’s 2009 competition to design the football 50p. This was an open competition and 29 members of the public were chosen to design the London 2012 Sports Collection.

In an interview for the Royal Mint, Wolfson explained why he chose to feature the offside rule saying, “The offside rule is always a talking point so I wanted to create something original to reflect that.”

Coin Varieties

Date Design Mintage
2011 Football 50p Silver 30,000
2011 Football 50p BU on Card 188,262
2011 Football 50p Circulated 1,125,500

This coin was minted in three varieties. The circulated coins are the second rarest 50ps in circulation. Also, as their design is popular with both sports and coin enthusiasts, they have become even rarer as many of them are held in collections rather than used to pay for goods.

BU Version

There is also a highly collectable brilliant uncirculated version of the coin. It is presented on a colourful authentication card with a geometric design that complements the design of the London 2012 logo, which appears in the bottom right corner of every card. Check for this and that the card has The Royal Mint logo and the London 2012 hologram on the back of the card. They should be in the black banner at the bottom. The rest of the back of the card is purple with a list of the coins in The London 2012 Sports Collection in white text. The football coin is number 12 in the 29-coin collection. Each of the 29 sports in the collection has its own card with a representation of the sport and its own combination of colours. The football card has a stylised image of a football player about to kick a football. The colours on the front of the football card are predominantly purple and turquoise with pink and white writing.

London 2012 Football 50 Pence Coin BU Big

Finally, there is a silver version of the coin. It too should come with an authentication card. However, the coin itself is not set into the authentication card (as it is with the brilliant uncirculated version) but in a separate, clear, protective case which is fitted to a black card which bears the words ‘A piece of history beautifully crafted by The Royal Mint’ and a partial image of a fifty pence piece. In the image, the back of Her Majesty’s head is visible with the ELIZABETH II part of the inscription. The authentication card still bears the stylised footballer on the front but has a white background. It also has the Royal Mint logo as well as the London 2012 logo on the front. The 2012 hologram remains on the back of the card. The back of the card is navy blue with the coin specification in white text.

Team GB Football 2012

Great Britain are one of the most successful countries when it comes to Olympic football. Great Britain sits in joint second place with Hungary as both teams have won gold in Olympic football 3 times. First place goes to the United States of America with 4 lots of gold medals to their name.

However, it has been a long time since Britain’s footballers have grasped the gold. The three victories came in 1900, 1908, 1912. Since then, defeat and none entry have seen Team GB without a chance at medals in football. Until London 2012. For the women’s game it was the first time that Team GB would throw their hat in the ring. Despite women’s football being played at the Olympics since 1996, Team GB haven’t had a cohesive women’s team. This is because the FAs of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland could not reach an agreement on how to proceed (with a women’s team or a men’s for that matter). However, as the host nation of the London 2012 Olympics the British Olympic Association announced that both men’s and women’s football teams would be entered. Team GB’s men and women performed well. With teams of the best quality up-and-coming players and the home crowd advantage, expectations were high.

For the men, their first match was against Senegal at Old Trafford, which ended in a 1-1 draw. In their second they convincingly beat the United Arab Emirates 3-1 at Wembley. In their final group game, a 1-0 win against Uruguay at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, they secured a place in the knockout stage. However, in their quarterfinal against South Korea they were defeated. After a nail-biting 90 minutes (again at the Millennium Stadium) ended 1-1, extra time was played but couldn’t separate the two teams. Penalties followed and despite a strong display the shoot-out was lost 4-5, ending the men’s hopes for gold.

Unfortunately, things went fairly similarly for Team GB’s women. Starting well, in the group stage they won every game. Their first, a 1-0 victory against New Zealand at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. This spurred them on to trounce Cameroon 3-0 (also in Cardiff) in their second group match. The third brought them to Wembley and face to face with Brazil. In front of 70,584 spectators, the Team GB ladies put in a hugely impressive performance and advanced to the quarter final. With a 1-0 final score, the Team GB women were the only team still in the competition who had yet to concede a goal. In the quarterfinal match at Coventry, Team GB’s opponents Canada came out strong, dominating the beginning of the game and taking two goals before half time. After the restart, Team GB seemed to find their feet but further frustration and being denied a penalty (some would say unfairly) meant the ladies came to the full-time whistle with nothing. So, it was Canada who went through to the semis defeating Team GB 2-0.

The Good News

Unlucky as the Team GB footballers may have been in 2012, the ladies’ performance at the Olympics lead to a huge surge in interest in the women’s game. Record numbers attended the team’s games and that support has only grown since. During the 2019 Women’s World Cup, the television audiences were huge and this has converted to women playing too. Pitch bookings by female teams have risen by over 200% in the last few years. All of this extra interest has forced the Home Nations to come to an agreement and Team GB will once again field a women’s team for the Toyko 2020 Olympics! Good luck ladies!

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