ITV rip open the story of the football sticker

Ryan Giggs went from collecting stickers to being on them
Paul McConville

IT was perhaps fitting that a show about collecting football stickers was tucked away on ITV4 after 10 on a Tuesday night, but if you were the sort of person who got excited by getting a shiny sticker of the Watford crest back in the 80, it was well worth seeking out.

Stuck on You: The Football Sticker story was more than a potted history of collectors cards and stickers. It gave a fascinating insight into how such stickers ensured that 70s and 80s kids and their pocket money was soon parted.

The show featured the usual talking heads, including people who were avid, to the point of obsessive, collectors in their youth and collector-turned-sticker himself Ryan Giggs. But it essentially centred around the four men who were for bringing sticker mania to the UK and their journey from enthusiasts to shrewd and adventurous businessmen who took on such business behemoths as Robert Maxwell.

There was also a quick glimpse of a fresh-faced Richard Madeley, before he'd gone full Partridge, fronting a news report on how the sticker craze was sweeping the nation.

It did a great job in conveying the mysticism around sticker and collection. Apparently the holy grail of a George Best card in the 60s was worth a gigantic fully-formed Airfix model – not the first time Georgie has been associated with a model.

There was retrospective disbelief that you had to entice people to buy tobacco or bubblegum to get a football card (ask your parents) considering the full-blown football sticker addition that would later break. Now it's totally the opposite, cards and stickers are used to sell things. The best way to shift a load of Match magazines these days is to slap a couple of packets of Match Attax cards (ask your kids) on the front cover.

Of course, cigarette cards and ‘stickers' you had to fix into you're album got kicked to the curb when the fourt Panini brothers waded into the UK market after enjoying ripping success flogging proper stickers (ones the peeled off and actually stuck into an album all by themselves) from a news kiosk in Modena, Italy. A fifth Panini brother made his fortune by inventing some sort of fancy toastie but that was largely glossed over.

Anyway, our Fab Four were responsible for kicking down the door for Panini in the UK – cue shots of kids storming newsagents and ripped up packets strewn all over the ground outside. There were tales of bans from schoolyards as wads of doubles being produced caused stampedes and scraps and chants of 'got, got, need, got'. It was the crack cocaine for the Newsround generation.

But then it all got political and the red tops scrapped over the stickers like a couple of first years in the playground claiming that a shiny Manchester United crest was worth a Mark Stein, an Ian Woan and two St Mirren player crammed onto the same sticker. The Sun won in the end, so Mirror owner Robert Maxwell did the equivalent of marching into the shop and buying a whole box of World Cup stickers – he bought Panini.

The quartet then outlined how Maxwell's saunter off a yacht led them to setting up rival company Merlin, who shrewdly snapped up the fledgling Premier League contract, and we were treated to scenes of swap meets at football stadiums that drew bigger crowds than the matches themselves.

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