Sergeant Thomas Clark is a 13-year veteran of the Canadian Armed Forces. He spent a few years conducting in-flight safety on VIP mission flights with the Prime Minister, Governor-General, and the royal family. He described the experience as one that he’s thankful for, “That would take me all around the world. Experiencing new cultures, different countries, cities, and monuments is probably one of my highlights. Not too many people get that opportunity, so I thank the military for that.”
But this is a story about hockey jerseys. Or at least a story about how an armed forces member turned his passion for hockey and collecting jerseys into a thriving business called First Line Jerseys.
“I wouldn’t say I’ve done a full transition yet because I still have a full-time gig with the Canadian Armed Forces. I had a go-to customizer that I would send all my jerseys, but he decided to go in another direction… So I just kind of remember that we had this old sewing machine in the basement. It was my wife’s grandmother’s that she bought in 1952. It was covered in dust and in one of those built-in wooden tables. And I was like, let’s crack this thing open and see what it’s got.”
I first met Clark through a mutual friend. I have a hockey jersey collection of my own and was looking to have some rarer stuff from the 1990s customized with the names of my favourite players from that era. I was relatively new to the hobby and did not know a lot about the specifics. But that did not matter to Clark, who was more than happy to take the time to answer my questions. Our relationship and eventual friendship started with an exchange. I traded him a jersey that I was selling for some customization work. If you would like to see my collection of Maple Leafs jerseys, you can see them here …
Author: Stephen Brown / The Leafs Nation