Football 80 was their third domestic sticker album for the UK and was the first one I ever owned. It had many familiar aspects retained from previous collections, but you could sense a notable intent to try out the occasional new idea and tweak a few things here and there too.
Football 79, they were squarer in shape once again and had a simpler design. Now, below the main picture, there was only the player’s details and a triangular pennant framing the club badge.
Speaking of badges, the silky, silvery fabric that had been so innovative the year before had been replaced for this edition by the now traditional shiny foil. It was a shame in many ways, but fabric was never really going to be able to convey the special status of silver on those wonderful club badge stickers.
As far as the album was concerned, the opening page was allocated to England manager Ron Greenwood’s introduction where he discussed his hopes for the coming season. England were on the verge of qualifying for the 1980 European Championships, and Greenwood reflected on the achievement of getting the national team to its first major tournament in ten years. An interesting way to get the album off and running, but an altogether more sober approach than the sticker-based map of the UK we’d had the previous year.
A change of tack was applied for the Second Division pages. Previously, Panini collectors would have been looking to get the team picture and team badge for each of the twenty-two clubs, but for Football 80 it was possible to collect pictures for 11 players, plus the manager. Admittedly they all appeared in pairs on each sticker, but this was an excellent opportunity to get to know some of the players plying their trade outside the English top flight - especially in conjunction with the page of Second Division badges that preceded them in the album.
Almost certainly it wouldn’t have gone down well with fans north of the border, but luckily we weren’t to be totally denied the sight of a tracksuited Alec Ferguson, the Bukta sponsored Hibernian team or the reassuringly Dad-like Jimmy Bone of St. Mirren.
With a full-colour picture of the ‘Football League Official Ball’ on the back cover, this was the 66-page Panini album for the 1979-80 season. Unlike other albums, it lacked the occasional set-piece flash of brilliance but it made up for it with a consistently high standard from beginning to end. A good collection and one worth owning if occasional eBay purchases are your thing.