How the Norwich City sticker album has reignited a love affair for football fans
PUBLISHED: 09:14 19 September 2019 | UPDATED: 10:44 02 October 2019
Jamie Honeywood Archant Norwich Norfolk
The launch of the official Norwich City sticker album means a love affair has been reignited for football supporters across the county.
Peeling the wrappers off a pristine packet of stickers provokes romanticism. It offers transportation back to football tournaments that have been enjoyed through those iconic looking out of the pages, perfectly positioned of course - there is a meticulous art to ensuring the dimensions of the sticker respond to the allocated space on the page.
'Got, got, got… Need!' is an expression that is repeated across the land around the time of a World Cup or European Championship and the subsequent collecting frenzy.
Corners of playgrounds become temporary swap shops, with any participant hoping to get their hands on those few stickers required to complete a team or the 'shinies' that are much desired for aesthetic and sentimental reasons alone.
The prospect of completing an England squad ahead of a World Cup is enticing enough to lead many to exchange the contents of their wallets in search of their idols.
Synonymous with football fans is the name of Panini, the producers of the collector's items and the original creators of a craze that continues to be as cherished as ever.
In 1960, the Panini brothers, Benito and Giuseppe, unexpectedly uncovered a sticker craze after selling three million packets of stickers depicting flowers and plants.
This prompted a move into Italian football stickers a year later, before a fully-fledged 1970 World Cup sticker book which, due to European trading laws, wasn't available to the UK market.
Running through the core of Panini was an obsession with accuracy; so much so that albums were released in January during their formative years so they could produce their stickers once photos had been married up with text.
The 1978 edition, which included the Scottish League, involved a superimposed sticker where Celtic defender Johannes Eðvaldsson's head was placed onto the body of team-mate Paul Wilson, with the creators facing a tight deadline.
Others will argue that the 1979 album was their favourite due to the introduction of the now infamous 'shinies'. A silk-like texture enhanced the quality of them, making them look expensive and become highly sought after.
Sticker albums reached their heyday in the early '80s, with the 1983 edition of the album including head-to-toe photos of players donning their respective strips. Swansea legend Alan Curtis elected to wear his football socks and slippers in that edition, while team-mate Bob Latchford didn't wear any footwear.
They were the front runners in an industry that was gathering commercial momentum by the beginning of the 1980s, deploying 21st-century methods to strike a deal with the PFA, allowing them to have access to every player in the Football League.
The two most recent World Cup editions, 2014 in Brazil and 2018 in Russia, still proved immensely popular, with the 2014 edition selling an estimated £3.5m worth of albums and stickers.
There has been an evolution of how stickers have been adopted by football supporters, with stickers now taking on a more tribal meaning around various locations. Search any away ground after Norwich City have visited and somewhere, you'll find a yellow and green sticker.
Stickers don't merely come in packets anymore; they are adopted by supporters to mark a certain location with a splash of colour. Street furniture has become a football supporter's canvas.
Stadiums are undoubtedly popular sticking grounds, but city centres and pubs are also splashed with the colourful stickers.
It appears this adoption of football stickers takes a different meaning altogether, with train stations being emblazoned with various clubs colours and subversion of logos or parts of culture.
For decades, football and stickers have married to form an unexpected relationship. Whether it is sticker book collecting or the calling card placement across the country, it has become ingrained in the culture of supporters across the land.