Taking Stock with Rob Stocks - July 11, 2011

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WITH the new football season fast approaching I can’t help but think back to my childhood – and in particular the arrival of the new season’s sticker annual.

It might seem a little bit dull to the facebooking, Wii playing, text happy youngsters of today but back in the eighties there was nothing more satisfying than trading seventeen Sheffield Wednesday shiny badges for one elusive Luther Blissett.

Of course my beloved Clarets and, for that matter, Blackpool weren’t included in the collection.

Both, back then, were plumbing the depths of the lower leagues – with Burnley teetering on the very edge of league survival.

But that didn’t spoil the fun of the sticker album – a brilliant boys toy, until you had to send off to the publishers for the last six players you could never get – not even through swapsies.

With the arrival of The Munchkin, stickers have made a return to my life, but in a far less appealing way.

I’m not talking about the boy variety – featuring footballers and other manly pursuits.

Oh no, I’m talking about the stickers which come with children’s magazines and birthday gifts.

There is usually a book,or at least a special page, on which the stickers should be placed.

But the little ones have other ideas.

Their sticker albums are the walls, the telly, the cat and, if stationary for too long, their parents.

Of course, being a mischievous little thing, The Muchkin has an unerring talent for committing such acts by stealth.

And, not being the sharpest knife in the drawer, I’m not so good at spotting her handiwork.

Not until I arrive at Gazette Towers do I become aware I’ve spent much of the morning with Dora The Explorer attached to my bottom.

And it’s very hard to be taken seriously in any situation with the message “I’m a star for cleaning my teeth” quietly peeling off the back of your cardigan.

Stickers, once my playground currency of choice, have become the bane of my life.

Each time I leave the house I have to go through a sequence of elaborate checks to ensure I haven’t been tagged when my back was turned.

Of course, it could be worse – especially if my 1980’s ‘doubles’ ever turn up.

The shame of turning up to work with Spongebob Squarepants grinning from my lapel is nothing – when you think it could be Vinnie Jones (in his pre-Hollywood, hard man of Wimbledon days).

I guess under the circumstances, I should just thank heaven for small mercies.