During the 1980s, at break times all over Britain, every schoolboy would huddle together, heads bowed, studying intently. Not books – natch – but something else. Listen carefully now and you can almost hear them . . .
“Got, got, got, got, got, need, got, got, got, need, need . . .”
Nearly every kid collected Panini. Not the Italian sandwiches – the football stickers.
The stickers were purchased in packets of five and stuck into an album, with every team having its own double-page spread. “Swapsies” were the duplicates you got, that you would then try and exchange with other kids for stickers you still needed. You lived and died by your stack of swapsies.
Completing your album almost became an obsession. You would spend all your pocket money on the daft things in the hope that you’d get that rare Ian Rush sticker, or – even better – a badge.
These golden or silver team crests were the most prized because they were all metallic, mint and shiny, and on the playground stock exchange a Manchester United badge could be worth as much as two Mars bars, a quarter of fudge and a Beano annual (depending on the early morning market movement and the volatility of midget gems).
After countless hours of negotiation and barter, doing deals with your mates, zealously hunting down rare badges, and spending tens of pounds on packs of stickers, you’d finally place the last sticker in the album while holding your breath, carefully making sure it was all lined up and square . . .
Then you’d be instantly bored with it and fling it in the back of your wardrobe somewhere.
You have to marvel though, at a company who could make a huge success out of publishing a picture book without any pictures in it and then charging people to enter a lottery to win the pictures.