It’s what they’ve been endlessly working on for years. But thanks to the Daily Echo autograph collectors Steve and Michael Morrison have completed their epic quest of hoarding every single Saints players’ signature from the post-World War Two era.
That is an unbelievable 2,800 monikers that have been inked on all manner of memorabilia to make up probably the most valuable and largest one club collection on the planet.
It was a matter of a month ago we published a story that the father and son from Harefield were down to their final six autographs, with that list including Zoltan Liptak, Jim Whittle and Ali Dia.
The Echo tracked down Liptak at his current club, in his Hungarian homeland, Gyori ETO FC and were sent a personalised signature by the centre-back who played at St Mary’s on loan during the 2008/09 Championship relegation season, playing seven games.
Although his time at Saints may have been fleeting and ended in the club’s relegation to the third tier of English football for the first time since 1960, his importance to the collection is as important as legends Matt Le Tissier, Mick Channon, Terry Paine or Ted Bates.
As reported previously, the pair soon found Dia’s autograph on a programme from the Leeds United match in which he made his single appearance for Saints under the alias of George Weah’s cousin, the Liberian international and then World Footballer of the Year – of course that turned out to be false and he was immediately sent packing from The Dell.
And then there was one. After starting their collection in 2005 Steve and Michael had just Whittle to find. No mean feat at all considering the Scot died in 2001 in Cambuslang, South Lanarkshire just below Glasgow.
But, just as Steve and Michael planned a trip to Scotland in search of their missing man, the Echo were able to find Whittle’s widow, Morag, with the help of a local Scottish newspaper.
On completing the collection an elated Steve said: “I would really like to put on record my thanks to a whole host of people that made a dream become a reality, not least the Daily Echo.
“It doesn’t seem that long ago that 43 missing autographs appeared to be an impossibility.
“The Echo ran with the story like a dog with a favourite bone and impossible became possible, possible become hopeful, hopeful become probable and probable become actual.
“As you can imagine we have been telling everybody we know about the collection. Nearly everybody we have spoken to is telling us we now need to write a book – not sure about that, a great story but limited market I am sure.
“Our quest has covered the continents of America, South America, Europe and Australasia, has spanned Britain from Plymouth to Cambuslang and has received the support of not only the football community but communities worldwide.
“We have met and had correspondence with the most generous of people to achieve something that may be unique amongst football fans.
“We have already had an indication that this is likely to be the most valuable one club autograph collection in Britain, if not the world. I can assure you (and everybody who has contributed to the collection) that there is no intent to profiteer from this, we would so much like the club to adopt it and put it on show.”
From here Steve and Michael Morrison are now looking to continue their collection of pre-war monikers, already making progress with more than 100 found and are hot on the trail of Harry Burgess, who played one game as a guest from Chelsea during World War Two.
They are also looking for the Saints inception document, the one that marked the birth of the club the club in 1885.
If you can help with their mission contact firstname.lastname@example.org.