Dads reliving World Cup sticker album craze

Joshua surveys the mountain of swaps he and dad Tom Ainsworth have accrued.
Joshua surveys the mountain of swaps he and dad Tom Ainsworth have accrued.
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“Got, got, need!” It’s a phrase synonymous with the start of many a playground argument for generations of schoolboys.

But, with the World Cup set to start in Brazil, it seems while these children of the past might have outgrown their flannel shorts – they haven’t outgrown their passion for collecting football stickers.

More grown-ups than ever are reliving their youths and taking up the challenge of filling albums with more than 600 likenesses of the planet’s best footballers to coincide with the tournament.

Brian Fellar, 44, is no exception.

Brian began collecting with two fellow drinkers at The Highfield, on Highfield Road, South Shore, and is now the envy of the pub having completed his album.

“It’s like going back to your childhood and, now you’ve got a bit of disposable income, it makes it worthwhile to do it,” he explained. “I wouldn’t put a guess on how much it cost me to complete.

“We got raised eyebrows when there were three of us at the bar swapping stickers after work.”

Brian has been able to find fellow enthusiasts from as far afield as Stoke, Hampshire, Sussex and Ireland to swap with by post and complete his collection – proudly boasting he hasn’t had to resort to such underhand playground tactics of trading one “shiny” for two “normals”.

For those out of the loop, that’s when the relative currency of stickers fluctuates wildly – with a shiny sticker, usually featuring the crest of one of the participating teams, is deemed to be worth the equivalent of two stickers which bear the image of individual players or ‘normals’.

But in an era where technology is more than ever the prevalent method by which the nation’s children are entertained, does such a timeconsuming pastime hold the same appeal for youngsters these days? Brian, from Kingsmede, South Shore, admitted at times it’s been hard to get his eight-year-old son Joey enthused about the idea.

“Kids want something more interactive,” he said.

“They want something that does something rather than a book or a magazine, but the magic’s not gone for me.”

Tom Ainsworth, 37, has been collecting with his four-year-old son Joshua.

Tom, from Meanwood Avenue, Marton, said: “I’m always hoping for the shinies when I open the packets with him. It’s been quite a good one but it’s getting a bit frustrating now.”

Unfounded reports in the national news claimed one school in Huddersfield had even banned sticker swapping from the playground.

But Andrew Mellor, headmaster of St Nicholas Primary School, in Marton, believes there are many benefits.

He said: “I remember doing it when I was at school and, at the risk of sounding clichéd, it never did me any harm then.

“The worst case scenario is disputes over who’s swapping with who, but it’s part of growing up.

“It does seem to be far more expensive now though.”

But for 34-year-old office worker Gary Phillips, from Hornby Road, central Blackpool, that’s not as much of a problem as it might be for schoolboys with their pocket money. Gary, whose last collection came during his teens while the 1994 World Cup was being held in the USA, says the power of social networking has encouraged him to revive the hobby.

He said: “I was on Twitter and I noticed lots of people were also getting into it.

“I started having conversations with people but it’s like a trend that’s started this year.

“It definitely seems to be people in their 30s and 40s that have picked up on it.

“When we were at school it was fun and you used to do swaps, but nobody at my work does it.

“The office I work in is all women and I’ve mentioned it to them. They think it’s quite amusing and they’ve bought me the odd packet in the morning as a present.”