It’s an even-numbered year and it’s now officially spring. Which means a major football tournament is impending: in this case the 2018 FIFA World Cup. And that means it’s time to spend a frankly ridiculous amount of money trying to complete a Panini sticker album.
Panini stickers were an indelible part of my childhood. Just the thought of them brings back so many memories. Walking to the newsagent’s to buy a couple of new packs every morning before school. The excitement of revealing a shiny foil sticker. Exchanging ‘swaps’ in the playground to fill in missing gaps. Sending off the order form for the elusive final few stickers to complete the collection.
Of course, these were the pre-internet days when a Panini album was a child’s only window into a world of exotically named footballers, many of them with dodgy moustaches – well, it was the late 1970s – from far-flung countries we had never heard of such as Darkest Peru. (No, hang on, that’s Paddington, isn’t it?)
An album where you have to collect stickers over a period of several weeks now seems like an anachronism in a world of football websites and instant gratification. And yet Panini is still going strong, 40 years after I started my first album for the 1978 World Cup.
Isaac and Toby enjoyed completing their Euro 2016 album even though neither were really interested in football at the time. But since then Isaac has been to his first live game and attended other sporting events. And Toby will happily watch highlights of Arsenal games on Match of the Day. So maybe this will be the summer when football fever finally bites them.
Mind you, regardless of their interest in the game they still enjoy working on the album. It’s one more shared activity for us to enjoy together. And reliving my own childhood through them will always appeal to the nostalgist in me.