For many sticker collectors, this was where it all began - the start of a lifelong obsession. The Queen's Silver Jubilee had been and gone, and now it was time to celebrate something altogether different: the glorious sport of Football itself.
The team pages came next – two for each club with spaces for seventeen stickers each. Strangely in this first domestic Panini album we see an odd reluctance to fit in an extra player on the first page to create a uniform layout. Note the odd row of three rather than four where the manager and goalkeeper images reside…
The double-page spread has a familiar look for those that remember Panini’s later efforts, but in this early period the preference was to show biographies of each player in a single block on the second page rather than individually below each player’s picture.
As for the stickers themselves, the ’78 design was that of a red window frame with English flag, team name and badge at the top and player name at the bottom. Team badges were of the hard gold foil variety while team pictures used a similar design to those used for the players.
What’s notable about the player photos in this early Panini vintage is that each team member wasn't necessarily seen wearing the same shirts. In many cases you can pick out two or even three different shirt designs per team, something Panini made a point of correcting to a large extent later on.
Subsequent Panini albums may have dared give you a glimpse of life in Divisions Three or even Four, but it's only the second tier of English football that was spotlighted here. Again there was another results chart to complete (half of it already having been done for you) before the minimal format of badge-statistics-team picture rolled out across six pages.
Here we get our first glimpse of the double foil badge – a regular-sized sticker split in two for twice the pleasure. Even though the Second Division badges were, in reality, only half the size of their First Division equivalents, there was something undeniably joyful about getting two on the one sticker.
As for the teams listed, there was an eclectic mix of the rising stars, the fallen wonders and the perennial water-treaders. Premier League stalwarts such as Bolton, Fulham and, yes, even Tottenham Hotspur sat cheek-by-jowl alongside teams like Bristol Rovers, Orient and the previous season's Division Three champions Mansfield Town.
Scottish Premier Division pages
Hardly fair treatment, really, especially as that only left enough room for seven players to accompany the manager, club badge and team picture. Still, at least we got a fair selection of the pale, pasty-skinned and wild-haired talent making a name for itself north of the border, as well as the ubiquitous half-completed results grid.
Aside from the ongoing 70's competition to see 'who looks more like Graeme Souness than Graeme Souness', there's much to please the idle browser of this album. Sir Alf Ramsey makes an appearance as Birmingham City manager (Panini politely leaving out the word 'Caretaker' for such an undoubted legend of the game), while Everton's team picture appears to have been taken on a 1:3 hill.
A never-more-70's hand-drawn vignette depicted as if zooming away from view in a vivid red-orange-yellow colour scheme. A bit like the opening titles to a Lew Grade British spy thriller series shot through the prism of an official FIFA World Cup film. Kind of.