A POMPEY fan known as ‘Badges’ because of his vast collection of commemorative pins is appealing for help after losing a treasured hat covered in the collectors’ items.
Die-hard fan Dave Coombs, of Newtown Road in Warsash, has printed 350 posters asking for help finding his special hat, which he was wearing the day he met his late partner, Julie.
The item has deep sentimental value for the 50-year-old, which he mislaid during a walk home from Locks Heath pub, the Strawberry Field Tavern, on Sunday, September 1.
‘I noticed it was gone on the Friday after,’ said Dave. ‘I was getting my stuff together to go to the Cheltenham match and then realised I could not find it.’
The night worker has delivered posters to homes between the pub and his house, asking for help finding his white Portsmouth cap.
‘It’s priceless to me,’ explained Dave. ‘It is what I have done for the last 22 years. It marks where I have been – championship finals, semi-finals at Wembley. I would imagine it has at least 60 pins on it from different clubs.’
Dave said he started collecting the pins after going on a trip to watch Arsenal play at Highbury with a friend.
His emotional connection to the hat grew after Julie Hatchett, a Southampton fan, passed away in September 2011, at the age of 46. She had been diagnosed with terminal cancer a month before her death.
‘I went to two games with her this season before she died,’ said Dave.
‘I considered stopping going to football but her father and I concurred that she would still want me to go.
‘I decided that I would keep going until I had completed all the 92 clubs and they were all represented on the cap.’
Dave now hopes he will be able to find the cap, which he lost on the second anniversary of Julie’s death while walking home from the pub.
He said: ‘The route I took from the Strawberry Field Tavern is a mystery. I can only hope that someone has found the cap and is kind enough to return it to me. It represents a large part of my life and is a reminder of the good times with Julie.’
By yesterday, news of Dave’s search had reached across the Atlantic, with an exiled Brentford fan sending his wishes from Columbus, Ohio.
If you have found Dave’s cap or know where it is, please contact reporter Claire French by calling (023) 9262 2226 or e-mail email@example.com