Sunday, 4 August 2013

Soccer 88 - Daily Mirror Sticker Album

Continuing my theme of writing about non-Panini sticker albums, I'm doing it again and this time it's a sequel. Having covered the Daily Mirror's first foray into football stickers with 1987's Stick With Soccer, what we have here is their follow up from 1988.

There are some noticeable changes from the 86/87 album and, perhaps sadly given how different that album had been from the usual Panini fayre, most of them seem to have been done to fall more in line with the accepted version of the sticker book format. What I'm saying is, they Paninified its ass!

The 2 most obvious changes come with the name. While "Stick With Soccer" had followed the numbering format to match the league season it related to (86/87), Soccer 88 adopted the traditional (i.e. Panini) approach of the year the book was released in.

Secondly, "Soccer 88" is now the actual title (as opposed to the last one being officially titled "Stick With Soccer - 1986/87 Season"). This one does however, have a nice subtitle - "Britain's Top Sticker Album". Note, there's no asterisk there linked to a footnote with something like "in the Gateshead area for 3 weeks in March", nope this was apparently Britain's top sticker album. One can only assume that to be true as it's highly unlikely a tabloid newspaper would print any outlandish claims without facts to back it up. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is satire.

There's also been a price reduction...from 25p to FREE!

some words
One thing that hasn't changed is the foreword, blandly presented again by Bryan Robson...pretty sure he didn't write it though the sheer moribundness of it all maybe suggests he did. I have a lovely image of him, chewed pencil in hand, tongue sticking out as he concentrates oh so hard to fulfill the 200 word brief.

The intro does reveal that in the 87/88 season the top flight was in one of those transition phases between 22 and 20 other words, 21.
There's also 360 stickers in total, up from 286 the previous year (thanks Bryan).

Wot no Villa?
An extra little nugget from the inside cover shows that Daily Mirror stickers came not in packets, but in "envelopes" - 6 stickers (surprised they didn't call them sticky-pics or something) costing 12p...

As with 86/87, we dive straight into the teams (all 26 of them...I'll come to the other 5 later) and of course it's perennial sticker book openers, boring boring Arsenal. These are of course followed by...Charlton. Eh? Where are Aston Villa? This is 1988, they're in the 2nd Division...which is funny...much much funnier than being in the 3rd tier with no home and -10 points oh yes! (SISU OUT!).

Sansom it midnight?
One other new feature where the Mirror have, er, been inspired by Panini, is the introduction of foil stickers. That doesn't mean we get club badges (copyright issues anyone?), but instead the foils are reserved for the Team Manager and the Captain. The foils shall I put this...crap?

Where the Italian foils are lovely and magpie-temptingly shiny, the Mirror's are just...dark. Sure if you shine a bright light on them they just about display their wares, but they're hardly what you'd call a mirror finish (and there we have ourselves a whole plate of pun...a punnet even...I'm on FIRE!)

CCFC...because I can...
Also making its debut is the player profile shot. 86/87 was all action, but this time round there's a strange mix of almost all action and then the odd player's mug appears. It all adds to the rather cheap feel that dominated the previous album and somewhat lets down the clear attempt to be taken more seriously. They should have stuck with one or the other and given the quality of the photos in this album are much better than before, the unique angle provided by the action shots should have been used as a USP. Speaking of the stickers, the quality level may have increased, but the stickers themselves have shrunk...down to normal Panini size, therefore allowing for more per page (hence the increase in number).

Super indeed!
The middle pages detail a rather bloody good competition to win a 10 day holiday to watch Euro 88 in West Germany. No doubt funded by the Mirror newspaper group, this was nevertheless something you wouldn't have found in any Panini album. Naturally, this is advertised heavily on the front wait...there's no mention of it anywhere prominent. Another opportunity missed! Contrary to competitions these days, to win this you had to choose your England XI to win Euro 88. Wonder how many entries would have done better than the real 11.

Rangers? Rings a bell...
After the 21 English Division 1 clubs are covered, there's time for some north of the border action. And by some, I mean 3 teams. Aberdeen, Celtic and some team called Rangers? Nope, me neither...

The final pages are taken up with a quite-common-at-the-time World Stars selection, featuring the best of the football world at the time, from Josimar and Maradona to Sanchez Hysen and the ultimate England squad as chosen Sir Alf Ramsey. One can't really argue with his choices, although the choices do seem to be either 1966 or 1988...the 2 decades in between seem to have been skipped over. Keegan, Brooking? Nope, but we do have Alvin Martin...nah, I'm kidding...he's not there.

Class from home and abroad
And that's your lot. As with the previous album, Soccer 88 was to the point with little in the way of superfluousness, but in my opinion, it was better for it. Despite the obvious lean towards sticker album conformity, it's a clear level above its predecessor and one can't help but feel that if they'd made another, which I'm pretty sure they didn't, it would perhaps have been a decent rival to the great Panini. As it is, they ducked out of sticker albums and so these two serve as the Mirror's sole efforts from the 80s. Around this time, Merlin were just getting started and would go on to provide a serious rival to Panini with the introduction of the Premiership. Perhaps this newcomer finally convinced those at the Mirror that there just wasn't room for a third top flight sticker collection. I guess we'll never know...


  1. As I've only just discovered your website and podcasts, I was reminded of the other non-Panini sticker album I collected as a youngster; Orbis' World Cup 1990 *adopts TV ad voiceover* available to collect from your newsagent NOW! Anyway, if you don't remember it, it came as an A4 ring binder with dividers and pages that came in monthly installments. There were features on previous World Cups, players etc and detailed pieces with diagrams about previous World Cup goals as well as the sticker album element. It was a nice, if slightly unwieldy tome. Hopefully you'll remember it too.

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    2. Hi Martin, we do indeed! :)