Hitchin landlord finds treasure trove of football memorabilia during spring clean – and wants to find a ‘good home’ for his collection with all funds raised going to Willow

Half Moon pub landlord Howard Philips with the selection of Arsenal memorabilia from the 1960's whic

Half Moon pub landlord Howard Philips with the selection of Arsenal memorabilia from the 1960's which he is selling for charity. - Credit: Archant

A well-known Hitchin pub landlord is looking for a good home for his precious football mementoes he found while ‘decluttering’ for spring – while hoping to raise as much money for charity.

Howard Phillips of the award-winning Half Moon pub on Queen Street decided to have a spring clean – and came across a treasure trove which will appeal to football fans and collectors of football programmes and special souvenir newspapers.

Howard, who grew up in North London watched Arsenal as a teenager for a long spell in the 1960s and the early 1970s and collected a number of match-day programmes and special newspaper supplements marking the club reaching Wembley finals.

However, generous Howard has no space for his valuable items anymore and wants his collection to go a good home – with any cash raised from punters bidding to go to the Willow Foundation. The charity was founded by legendary Gunners goalkeeper Bob Wilson after the tragically untimely death of his beloved daughter, Anna.

Howard told the Comet: “I grew up near Highbury and used to hear the crowd from my house. My first game was the North London Derby at White Hart Lane in 1964 with my friends. Unfortunately Arsenal lost 3-1 that day but I had the bug.

“I used to watch most home games at Highbury from then until the late 1960s and early 70s.

“I have a lot of happy memories from that time but I don’t have any space for all the programmes and handbooks, reserve team teamsheets and souvenir newspapers I collected.

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“If anyone wants to make a bid for the collection and give it a good home I’ll happily hand over every penny to the Willow Foundation.”

Howard recalls watching Bob Wilson play for Arsenal. He used to watch the team from the famous ‘Schoolboys Enclosure’ before graduating to the North Bank. He has fond memories of Bob. He said: “We used to shout his name from behind the goal and have a laugh with him.

“He was a good keeper and is a lovely bloke so I think it’s fitting any money raised goes to Willow.”

Howard also recalled going to both legs of the Spurs league cup semi-finals in 1968 and the final which Arsenal lost against Leeds United at Wembley.

He also went to 1969 League Cup Final against Swindon Town the year after in what is still regarded as one of football’s biggest giantkilling acts – as the unfancied Wiltshire team unexpectedly triumphed 3-1.

He added with a smile: “The collection seems to stop after those games!”

The Half Moon is holding its annual spring beer festival from Thursday, April 20 to Sunday, April 23 with its usual top quality selection of ales, ciders and perries. There will also be live music.

For more on the popular beer festival or to make a bid call 01462 452448.

Despite his allegiance to the North London giants Howard welcomes all lovers of top quality beer – regardless of what football team they support!

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