Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Stick With Soccer - Daily Mirror Sticker Album 1986-87

Say "football stickers" to anyone and they'll probably wonder why you're shouting random phrases at them in the street... and why you appear to have no pants on, but are still wearing a nice pair of shiny brogues.

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?
There seems to be one problem with this approach however, and that appears with the very first sticker in the album. The quandary facing the photo selectors was thus: What do you do when the only image of Arsenal keeper John Lukic is quite clearly landscape? Possible answers to this were "crop the image" or maybe even "Photoshop his head onto someone else's"... known as 'the Panini approach.' But no, the answer the DM came up with was "ah just put the sticker in sideways."

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? that's not what it says in the Club Info!
One page that does have all that season's kits on show is Coventry City (like I need an excuse to show CCFC!)  This page, though, does demonstrate another issue with the Mirror album. Their approach seems to have been quantity over quality as, though the stickers are about 50% bigger than the average Panini ones, the quality of the shots does vary wildly throughout the book, with most pictures being rather dull in colour and often quite dark. This is not just 26 years taking their toll; I remember them being like this at the time.

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!!!
The format of the album is very straight laced with pages only for the 22 teams in Division 1. The only gimmick present is on the last two pages, where a Soccer Super Subs Competition appears. The idea behind this was you used your swaps to create an all star 11, which you would then stick in the blank spaces provided on the reverse of the page. The prize was a not inconsiderable one - a 7-day course at Bobby Charlton's Soccer School, including accommodation, and not forgetting "2nd class rail travel and £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!
Charlton Athletic - Championship
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!


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. I seem to remember that there was some sort of competition with this book (that I did collect) that involved spotting deliberate errors. Whether I remember this correctly or whether they were deliberate I am not sure but the Niall Quinn sticker reminds me.

  3. I was just digging through some old stuff and found my completed album, complete with the landscape lukic sticker.
    I also noted something else unusual - I have a Steve Gritt sticker in Charlton kit, but no space for it in the album.
    I wonder if there are any other stickers without a space in the album.

    I also found a receipt for some sticker packs ... 12p each ...