This week’s column was written high in the sky (I was seated next to photographer, Phil Blagg), as I made the most of the time on the journey to Portugal. It immediately brought back memories of travelling to the FA Ireland earlier in the year, as I did exactly the same thing then.
Usually focusing on something from a uniquely personal perspective, this time is no different, as I look back to the first leg of the Champions League tie. In particular it’s my memorabilia collection that comes under the spotlight this time round.
I have a very unique – and highly personal collection – that I’ve accumulated since getting involved with TNS. It all began with a humble team sheet that I couldn’t throw away, and without realising it I was on the first step of new journey.
Anyway, back to the present and I got on very well with the Gibraltarians when they visited Park Hall. So much so in fact, that on the day of the game, Christian and Lawrence – photographer and Media Officer respectively – said we have something for you when they arrived for the game the following day.
The players had been training in a special league winning commemorative shirt and in the bag they gave me were two of the tops. One signed by the whole squad and the other to wear. I’ve actually brought that with me to Portugal to get signed by a particular player.
The third item was also a shirt, one from the third kit option. There were just three spares made, in addition to the squad one, and so in terms of rarity it’s a great item. What makes it really special to me though is the nature of how I came across it.
I’ve got a Mike Wilde shirt on my wall at home, the one he wore in the game at B36 Torshavn in the Faroe Islands in 2015/2016. I could go on the internet and buy a Messi, Ronaldo or Suarez top but it wouldn’t have the same personal attachment.
I wasn’t there at their game and if you asked any of those three if they knew me, they wouldn’t have a clue. I’m often getting people say they have something for my collection and I have to explain that, although I really appreciate it, it’s not a collection for the sake of it.
I wonder what will be the next major item to join my personal memorabilia museum? I’m forever adding signed programmes, team sheets and press passes. I value them very much, of course I do, but when you have signed shirts from the champions of Gibraltar, that’s very special. What’s next?