The Joy Of Football Stickers

“Got, got, got, got, neeeeeed, neeeeeed!”

“Shiny, shiny, shiny……….ahhhhh no, it’s Coventry City AGAIN!”

I remember my best mate’s Mum knocking on our door, demanding to see my Mum about her son’s sticker collection. He’d needed one sticker, that I had, to complete his album, so I swapped his pile of swaps, that were as big as my eight-year-old brother, for one sticker.

“That’s stealing,” she said, clearly not grasping both my childhood business acumen and the whole point of sticker albums…to complete them!

I only managed that once, the World Cup Italia ’90 edition – a beautiful binder that I’d have fought to the death for, containing mug-shots of everyone from Lineker and Waddle to Omam-Biyik, Valderrama and Ravelli.

The album still exists, no doubt in mint condition, but it’s become an almost mythical wonder, trapped in my parent’s loft for the last 15 or so years, I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve asked my Dad to get it down.

One day we’ll meet again though, and I’ll sit in that loft, grasp my album in both hands like a trophy, eyes wide with excitement I’ll wipe away the dust, before sitting for hours reminiscing, Nessun Dorma playing in my mind, along with Platt’s volley against the Belgians, Gazza’s tears against the Germans.

If anything reminds me of the wonder and innocence of my youth it’s collecting stickers – something so simple, yet so special.

The challenge of completing your album, the thrill of noticing the glisten of a shiny as you tore open the pack, learning how to wheel and deal to Delboy proportions over swaps, and when the pocket money ran out – waiting all day to see whether Dad would bring a pack or two home for me after work.

I’d forgotten much of this until last night when an advert came on the TV for a the new UEFA Euro 2012 Panini sticker album – I’ve got to say that if I were ten years old again I would be all over it, I only hope there are lots of kids having the fun I did back in the early 90s.

Perhaps there’s still hope for 30-somethings though – having mentioned all this on Twitter I heard from several grown adults who are unashamedly collecting the current Euro 2012 stickers. @robtdaly even complained…

“‏@adamsummerton Already got two Pospech’s – grossly unnecessary.”

I wanted to know from @ARThompson1975 (37yrs) how he manages without the playground swapping network we all relied on to get the stickers we needed….

“@adamsummerton there are a couple of others at work and I’ve persuaded the Dads of my son’s mates to do it too! Did it for WC10 as well.”

I can just imagine them stood in offices or at the pub or whatever bartering over piles of swaps. Brilliant. They’ve probably also had the age old debate about whether two ‘normals’ are really worth a ‘shiny’. But to finish I’ve gone for a retro tweet from @jasonpharrison that sums up sticker collecting perfectly…

“@adamsummerton Ahh … the joy of having 20 Phil Neals but still needing a Terry Butcher….”

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