5 June 2012

Panini: Euro 84

Given that England hadn't qualified for Euro '84, it was perhaps no surprise that I don't remember seeing Panini's sticker collection of the same name in the shops at the time. One thing I know for certain is that the BBC and ITV virtually ignored the tournament, the former showing a Spain v West Germany group game and the Final while ITV dropped their planned coverage altogether.

For those lucky fans with access to Panini's latest offering, it seemed that most things had remained the same since the Europa 80 collection four years earlier, but there were some minor changes to note for the eagle-eyed.

Front cover

No photographic image to catch the eye of a potential buyer on this occasion – instead, an artistic composition of a goalkeeper diving to the left on a blue background with the Eiffel Tower in the background and some gold bar lettering.

There's also a small cameo appearance from the tournament mascot, Peno the Rooster, plus the recently introduced UEFA 'Euro' logo in the blue and white of France.

Opening pages

As in 1980. the inside cover offered up all the qualifying round statistics and a chart to translate country names into six different languages – very handy for an international product such as this. Page three repeated the front cover design minus the goalkeeper with the bold and somewhat overworked 'Euro 84' lettering now in red. There was space for two stickers; one depicting Peno, the other being a gold foil showing off the Euro 84 logo.

Another returning feature and one retained in this year's Euro 2012 album was the Roll of Honour. This comprised of six stickers, each showing a black and white image of the previous winners, plus all the results from each of the tournaments between 1960 and 1980.

The following page was all about the posters for each of the eight competition venues. This was a new feature and one which showed how graphic design was being used to add a sense of identity to each of the Euro '84 venues. Many had a similar, modern feel – action shots of players heading, kicking or saving the ball – however the ninth poster, that of the Final, looked more like something culled from a 1950's French Ministry for Tourism office.

After that was the familiar site of a two-page spread showing pictures of all the stadia and the cities they were located in. Most striking of all was the view of Marseille harbour and all its boats and Strasbourg with its cathedral in the foreground. Sadly the view of St.Etienne's Geoffroy-Guichard stadium paled by comparison. Its pitch appeared to be covered in snow while nearest to camera five men can be seen sweeping up rubbish from the previous match.

Team Pages

Unlike the previous Panini Euro album, there was no favouritism shown towards the bigger teams. All competing nations had 20 sticker spaces for their players (and the coach) laid out over three pages coloured vividly in blue, white and red. Preceding them all was the traditional foil badge (all foils being gold in this series). There was also a four-piece team picture, doubled in size from those seen in Panini's Europa 80 album.

Everything else had a familiar ring to it – the spaces where you could fill in the results for each team, all the results per team since the last Euro competition and the 'Balance' table showing the total number of wins, draws and losses against all other teams.

As for the player stickers themselves, they had a clean appearance which looked a little more up-to-date than those in the previous Euro album. The tournament logo was inset into the top left corner, the mascot accompanied the player's national flag in the opposite corner and the player's name was at the bottom where you expected it. Nice, simple and easy to read.

Strangely in this album, there weren't too many opportunities for the reader to stop and giggle at a dubious player picture. If forced to pick out one, however, it would have to be the one featuring Klaus Berggreen of Denmark  who had the look of a man recently signed up by the Danish version of the FBI. Berggreen scored one of Denmark's five goals against Yugoslavia during the tournament but got himself sent off in the semi-final against Spain.

Excluded nations

Finally, at the back of the album, came the return of the Excluded Nations section – a chance for Panini to (a) bulk up an otherwise thin sticker album, and (b) remind you of the countries that were so good, they didn't see the need to win their qualifying group.

Over three pages, collectors had the chance to find a foil badge and both parts of a team picture for nine countries that failed to make the trip to France. England, of course, was one, but so too were the world champions Italy (who finished fourth in their qualifying group), the Netherlands (edged out by Spain), Scotland (edged out by everyone in their group) and the Soviet Union (second only to Portugal in Group 2).

The back cover

A map of France painted in blue, white and red showing the locations of each of the venues. On the off chance that words and place names weren't your strong point, the venues were also indicated by a sizeable picture of Peno in each case.

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