From what I’ve been able to make out, this was the third annual edition of the wallchart (the first being published for the 1984-85 season). I remember discovering my first one in a local newsagents sometime around the mid-1980’s. When folded up, it looked like an ordinary football magazine when sat on a shelf alongside other publications, but further investigation uncovered the extra dimensions that lay within. Once unpacked and unfolded, a huge, colourful, wallchart lay before you along with sheets and sheets of thumbnail-sized stickers, each one featuring club badges for every team imaginable.
The wallchart was an invitation to indulge in and engage with the world’s oldest football competition. As each round of matches were played, your job was to adhere the appropriate stickers to the spaces provided and fill in the score and scorers with a pen. The Third Round results ran around the outside of the wallchart while subsequent rounds appeared in the middle ‘pitch’ section.
And let it be said right here and now - the ability to hold sheets and sheets of mini club badge stickers in your hand was the sort of thing that was liable to create a strange tingling sensation in your nether regions as a football-loving young teenager in the mid-1980s. Individual club badge stickers were not uncommon to Panini collectors, but owning so many in such great quantities - small though they were - was almost obscene. With an apparent surplus at your fingertips, it’s hardly surprising that thoughts would turn towards other places where they could be stuck. School exercise books, bedroom walls, the frame of your bicycle… why wait until the FA Cup Final when there were so many places to stick them?
With a potential five rounds to feature in, it’s understandable that each team had five stickers each. Even some non-league teams were lucky enough to have a few, although in this 1986-87 edition, there were plenty of blanks provided that you could scribble your own names on. As you can see on this wallchart I purchased on eBay a few years ago, you can see one child’s attempts to ensure that the mighty Caernarfon wasn’t going to be left out.
The reverse side of the wallchart contained mostly statistical and narrative information split up into individual pages. There was a list of previous FA Cup Final results, the overall performance of different teams in previous competitions and the results from the previous FA Cup competition in 1986/87. For those seeking an insight into the life of a top player, Alan Hansen provided a potted history of his career heretofore, and an Editorial by someone at manufacturers Statmill spoke of the growing number of top players like Gary Lineker and Ian Rush leaving the English game.
As mentioned before, this was one of several FA-approved Statmill wallcharts to be made. All of them followed the same basic format and repeated a lot of the material included, but at 87 centimetres by 62, this was a monster of a wallchart that offered fun galore thanks to all those wonderful stickers. There was even an Up For the World Cup edition released in time for the 1986 tournament that I also owned at the time, but I’ll get to that in a future article.
For now, just salute the majesty of this wallchart and accept the fact that if you saw something like this in the shops tomorrow, no matter what your age, you’d buy it like a shot. Don’t feel ashamed. It’s purely natural.