7 August 2012

Panini: Football 79

Having cracked the UK market the previous year, Figurine Panini returned with a new sticker collection – Football 79 – to further establish itself as the leader in its field.

The album's royal blue cover featured an action shot of Liverpool playing Club Brugge in the 1978 European Cup Final, but rather cleverly the designers also added a few well chosen stickers to make the collection even more appealing to young kids.

Inside once again was the trusty fixture grid into which scores could be written, but that was small fry compared to the first main feature of the album – a 6-part map showing the locations of all the league teams of England, Scotland and Wales. The map proved so popular that it returned the following year in Panini's Europa 80 album.

The stickers of the Football 79 collection were more rectangular compared to Football 78, but once again there were 17 of them for each team – 15 players, plus a badge and a team picture on every double page spread. The player stickers had a less cluttered look than before with each player name displayed simply at the bottom while a small pictogram featured just above it to indicate the team name, colours and badge.

The main talking point for Football 79, however, wasn't the player stickers but the team badges. For the first and so far only time in Panini's rich history of sticker production in the UK, team badge stickers were made from fabric rather than metallic foil. The fabric itself had a silky texture and a silvery sheen which was a masterstroke of design and added a tactile element to an otherwise papery norm.

Quite why these silky silver badges never returned in subsequent years is unclear, but one can only assume Panini (and the collectors of its stickers) favoured the shiny foils in far greater numbers. A shame as this was an example of great originality on the part of the Italian manufacturer.

The page layouts were much neater for this second domestic collection and a preference for showing the player biographies below the stickers was established in this album. Sticker spaces were decorated on either side by a column of red globe symbols while the text (including the team profiles) appeared in blue. For the Scottish League Premier Division, all the teams were given equal prominence at last although the club badges featured a green background rather than the silver one favoured by their English counterparts.

For the English Second Division, the same format was used as for Football 78. Each club had a badge and team picture – both in landscape aspect this time – with the badges sporting a gold background and a football symbol to the right of each one. The usual array of facts and figures for each team was on show, printed in blue throughout and accompanied again by a fixture grid.

Among the inevitable array of curiosities found within the Football 79 album are a youthful looking Sam Allardyce sporting the sort of moustache that no 25-year-old should ever have, Chelsea's Clive Walker sporting the frizzy blond hair and black beard combo that no-one should ever have and QPR goalkeeper Phil Parkes sporting the shaggy dog look that frankly no shaggy dog should ever have. All that, and the first sight of shirt sponsorship courtesy of Hibernian's affiliation with Bukta. Something for everyone, then, in this excellent Panini sticker album.

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