Book Review: Stuck on You: The Rise & Fall & Rise of Panini Stickers

The culture of collecting football stickers is no longer just the reserve of the playground, it is a rising culture among older people too, as World Cup 2014 proved. Think football stickers, think Panini. Now, the history of the company has been captured in a new book, and it’s a captivating read.

The first World Cup I can properly remember is Mexico ’86. Aside from the ‘Hand of God’ and the greatest goal the world has ever seen both in the space of just four minutes – plus the wonderful Brazil and France teams – the key standout for me of that tournament was Panini’s Mexico ’86 sticker album.

I finished it too! I had to send off for England’s ginger mulleted centre half Mark Wright and 1986 final winning goal scorer Jorge Burruchaga to complete it, but I still have it somewhere in my loft. My precious.

Fast forward to 2014. I am in Rio de Janeiro again watching the World Cup in the Americas, this time in the flesh and nowadays my experience is greatly enhanced by social media. I already follow @OldSchoolPanini and @ScotsFootyCards on Twitter but this is different – it’s Panini, but not as you know it.

A professional couple in Oxford are drawing their own sticker album for World Cup 2014 under the name @CheapPanini. This is genius! Laugh-out-loud portraits of footballers are posted online and shared on social media to coincide with games in which they feature. Twitter goes crazy for them; the media demands interviews.

This is the unending allure of football stickers. And one company that is synonymous with football stickers is Panini. Now, its history has been chronicled. OW had a read. [Continues]

The history of Panini stickers

I don’t think I’ve ever read 250 pages as quickly as I read Gary Lansdowne’s Stuck On You: The Rise & Fall & Rise of Panini Stickers. For anyone who was a child in the 1980s, swap deals on the playground were a familiar sight. The book concludes with anecdotes of tactics that sticker enthusiasts used to deploy to maintain bargaining power, but it all starts with the Panini brothers from Modena in Italy.

French 'keeper Joel Bats from Mexico '86 Credit: OldSchoolPanini

French ‘keeper Joel Bats from Mexico ’86
Credit: OldSchoolPanini

Stuck On You takes the reader on a journey where the collectable culture – which in the UK had grown largely out of cigarette packet cards – morphed into dedicated albums. In Panini’s case, the first foray into a major footballing event was the Mexico 1970 World Cup.

Lansdowne secures interviews with key executives during the establishment of Panini in the UK (and beyond) and its rivalry throughout the decades with Topps, Merlin, and Panini under Robert Maxwell’s ownership.

There’s even a mention for daytime TV presenter Richard Madeley, who as a young reporter in the early eighties ran a report on the affordability of cards for kids. This sprung up the whole issue of whether the same number of each card is produced. Panini always said there was, but as Lansdowne explains, not all those cards – the foil club badges, the favourite players of that epoch – made it onto the swaps market as many were saved by kids.

“I couldn’t remember the rules of algebra or who was part of the Spanish Civil War, but I was 100 per cent sure I needed Peter Ndlovu but already had plenty of Mark Crossleys,” collector Ash Rose reminisces.

Remember when the Scottish club stickers all seemed to be split-screen with two players per sticker? Lansdowne covers the consternation that caused north of the border too.

England Mexico '86

My copy of Panini Mexico ’86. I had to send off for Mark Wright (ENG) and Jorge Burruchaga (ARG) to complete it

The future of football sticker culture

A common theme that Stuck On You seems to be that nostalgia has played a huge role in bringing back football sticker culture, especially as children of the eighties and nineties heydays have kids of school age themselves.

The Internet – in particular social media sites and auction sites like eBay – have made it that much easier to connect with other collectors from across the world.

The playground just got a whole lot bigger.

You can buy Stuck On You The Rise & Fall & Rise of Panini Stickers from Amazon.

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