If a representative from a firm of solicitors or barristers turns up at the Admiral Document Storage I am hardly surprised, for legal companies invariably need to have stored in a very safe environment, deeds and other legal documentation.
But occasionally I see something else come in which not only takes me by surprise, but also is rather interesting in itself.
Now I must stress at this point that I absolutely don’t go mooching around the storage facility looking at all the different items people have stored. Everything stored is treated as private and personal, unless of course the owner of the materials talks to me about it, and invites me to take a look.
The most recent situation in which this happened really did take me by surprise – not because I was bemused that someone would have such material, but rather that someone would want to stack it away in a storage facility.
True they can always come and inspect the materials and add more items, but even so…
In the case in question, a middle aged gentleman brought over a self-drive hire van with about 100 boxes in it. He unloaded the contents himself and we did the necessary, so that he could come and inspect his materials at any time.
During the completion of the paperwork I got talking to him and asked what was in the boxes.
“Football programmes,” he told me.
Not being much of an aficionado of these items I replied with a vague, “Ah” but then in the silence which followed thought I ought to say more.
“You are a collector are you?” I asked feeling this was safe ground.
“Indeed,” he replied.
Another pause before I added…
“But don’t you want to keep your collection close by you?” I realised of course that this might sound as if I was turning work away, which I certainly didn’t want to do, so I rapidly assured him that this was not the case.
“These are the duplicates,” he said.
I tentatively asked for an explanation.
“I always buy three copies of the programme when I go to a match. One is filed away at home, and the other two are here – for the last three seasons.”
“So you’ve got a lot more at home?” I asked.
“About quarter of a million,” he said. “I’ll be bringing another van load over in a week or so.”
“And why do you buy three copies of each one,” I ventured.
“Because slowly but surely the price rises. Some games have incidents which become rarities because they are the first match for someone who became famous later, or perhaps the last match for a famous player, or indeed a match in which a famous incident occurs.”
“What sort of incident?” I said, not quite knowing where this was going.
“I’ll give you an example,” he said, which I felt was exactly what I needed at that moment. “I have three copies of the programme for a game between Everton and Arsenal. On the surface it was just another league game. But it was more than that. It was the first away defeat for Arsenal in over a year, and their first defeat in 30 games. It was a match in which Wayne Rooney appeared, aged 16. He came on as a substitute and scored his first league goal with an extraordinary shot in the last minute which made him the youngest ever goal scorer in the Premier League”
“So these programmes are worth something?” I asked.
“That was in October 2002, so the programme is not that old, but its value is going up all the time. It is now worth around £25, over ten times its value.”
We paused for a moment. “That might not seem a lot of profit to you,” he said, and he was right. It didn’t. “But all programmes gradually go up in value – some particularly quickly. I am leaving a golden mountain to my son.”
I told him I was sure he would appreciate it and we went our separate ways.