That's not what this article is about though so instead I'll concentrate on the responses of those who are into football stickers, and that initial response is almost certainly "PANINI."
There are times however, when a boy decides that he wants something more than what everyone else has, when he decides to forge a path not trodden by others... and primarily when he sees a set of stickers that are bigger than Panini ones and feature 'action shots,' rather than boring head shots.
Despite owning two of these sticker albums (86/87 and 1988), I cannot for the life of me remember how I used to obtain the stickers, or indeed the album itself. We never bought the Daily Mirror newspaper so it's unlikely I got it free via that route and the album does have a price of a whopping 25p on the front, so I can only assume I purchased it. Same goes for the stickers. Were they given away in the paper and we just bought it for that reason for a while, or were they available in packets? I honestly cannot recall, so would love someone to fill in this missing info.
So, to the album itself.
There's a brief intro from Bryan Robson, which, if you read it in his traditional monotone way, almost puts you off right there and then. I can hear the quoted words, "Stick With Soccer" (for that is the official title) being forced from his mouth with all the panache of a comatose twig.
Turn the page and we're straight into the action... literally. As mentioned, the stickers in this album are all action shots, no doubt taken from the extensive Daily Mirror archive and it's this aspect which really did appeal to the 12-year-old me. Panini may have been the official collection, but a bunch of staged headshots has nothing on proper pictures of the named stars from an actual match.
|John Lukic foreshadowing Arsenal's fortunes?|
Yup, the first sticker in the album has John Lukic pointing at the floor. Good start, Stick With Soccer.
Sadly, Arsenal have stayed in the top flight all this time, thus robbing me of the opportunity to make some kind of 'pointing the way' / relegation joke. Cheers, Daily Mail!
*** See UPDATE below for further news on this ***
The action shot approach does have its flaws, however, one of those being the availability of images. The John Lukic debacle is one aspect of this... the other is the variety of kits you see on show. On one page, across only seven stickers, we get four different Arsenal shirts!
|So...which is this season's kit then?|
|Dull...no that's not what it says in the Club Info!|
Looking at the Coventry page, the contrast between the background image and the stickers makes the dullness even more apparent. Most of the stickers look washed out and too cold. The only one that appears normal is Kilcline and the fact that one of the stickers on the page is noticeably different just highlights the lack of consistency.
A further issue caused by the large size of the stickers is there are only 13 players on each double-page spread. No fringe squad players will be found here!
|Bobby Who? £25 Spending Money!!!|
One final note: out of the 22 clubs that made up the 1st Division in 1986/87, nine are no longer in the top flight. They now reside in the following divisions:
|Yes Son, Luton used to be in the top flight...wait, come back!|
Coventry City - League 1
Leicester City - Championship
Luton Town - Conference
Nottm Forest - Championship
Oxford Utd - League 2
Sheff Wed - Championship
Watford - Championship
Wimbledon - League 2
On top of that, several clubs are back in the Premiership, having dipped out to varying degrees, Man City being the most notable fall and rise and Norwich, QPR, Southampton and West Ham having only recently returned following often intermittent stays of varying length.
While the quality may not have been up to Panini standard, it was a very worthwhile album to collect and the novelty of having action shots certainly made it worth owning, especially if one album wasn't enough to sate your desire for collecting football stickers!
The Daily Mirror followed the album with a much more professional affair the following year (and also ditched the 'season' style numbering and following Panini's style of being named after the year of release, so the one that came after would be known as Soccer 88, rather than Soccer 1986/87.) I'll review that album another time however, where you'll get to see the Mirror's attempt at foil stickers!
*** UPDATE ***
In the few hours since I posted this, Steve Jinman (@EducatedLeftFt) retrieved his Daily Mirror album and it seems his John Lukic was the right way up?!?! The mystery deepens... where did the perpendicular Lukic come from? It's definitely a DM sticker so whaaaaa? Anyone have the answer? Was it from a previous album? An alternative universe? WHO KNOWS???
Big thanks to Steve for finding this!