Tuesday, January 08, 2013
In Search of Gerry Gow: The Quest Comes to an End
Long has been my quest, but know ye this: It is over.
In the year 1978, spurred by unexpected access to my Post Office saving account, I set off on a misguided mission to complete the Panini Football 78 sticker album. Little did I understand the lifetime of woe that this would cause, for by the time Football 78 disappeared from both the shops and school playgrounds, my funds had run out and I was eight stickers away from completion.
And those missing stickers - along with an uncompleted Airfix model of a Russian Mi-24 helicopter which has sat in a biscuit tin for the last three decades - gnawed away at my soul, demanding that they be found. I could recite their album numbers - 66, 179, 281, 299, 368, 384, 450, 451 - like normal people would remember their phone number, until - at last - the internet caught up with me and people started putting their ancient swaps online.
It hasn't been easy as I slowly worked through my Wants List, picking up the odd one or two from internet tat market eBay and specialist websites, until I reached a point in the last year when all I needed were Frank Clark of Nottingham Forest and Gerry Gow of Bristol City. And it was inevitable that my arch-nemesis "Gentleman" Gerry Gow - who lived just miles from me for the best part of ten years - would be the final sticker I needed.
And there, on the Retro Football Stickers site, he was. A remarkably small sum of money changed hands, and on 19 December 2012, 34 years on, my quest was complete as Gerry Gow and his big moustache flopped through my letterbox. And I say "remarkably small sum", but my twelve-year-old self would have been horrified that I would spend £1.50 on a football sticker when they came in a pack of five for an eye-watering 5p each.
Now, sticker no.66 rests easily in its space in the Football 78 album, and half of my life's work is complete. Just give me time to finish that helicopter, and your might as well get ready to screw down the coffin lid.