There are few perks to moving home. Shifting furniture, stripping window frames, paint everywhere… The best thing about this move to Cardiff with my new wife Gwenan was rediscovering old things I didn’t realise I still had.
Digging deep into a cardboard box, I made the greatest find. Sandwiched between the pages of Roger Dean’s ‘Views’ book were three bits of Esso soccer memorabilia: ‘Famous Football Club Badges’ (year unknown), ‘The 1970 World Cup Coin Collection’ and ‘The 1972 FA Cup Centenary Medals’. These took me back to the golden days when we used to fill Sarah with petrol at the Bee Filling Station in Market Street. Isn’t it funny how we give our cars names? Sarah was our apple green Austin Austin A40.
Back in the late sixties and early seventies, filling stations weren’t self-service. The Bee’s staff all wore blue cotton overalls. Today, we buy fuel in litres; our father used to ask for ‘Eight gallons of Premier’ (there was no unleaded then … and only tractors took diesel). With every few gallons, you’d get a free paper pouch with a medal, coin or emblem in it.
The aim was, obviously, to collect the whole set of forty or so. As my brother and I struggled to fill the few remaining gaps in our collections, we had help from our neighbour, Ritchie Morris. He, along with John Griffiths, was the owner of The Bee Filling Station. Uncle Ritchie would often slip us a couple of extra pouches and help us find that elusive Charlton Athletic emblem, that Peter Osgood or Peter Bonetti coin.
The fact that my collections of soccer coins, medals and emblems are complete today is entirely due to Ritchie Morris’s kindness. These collections may well be valuable by now, although I’ve never heard them mentioned on the ‘Antiques Roadshow’. That’s beside the point. They’re worth a lot to me.