Same Crap, Different Bucket
An Englishman's adventure in the land that Chocolate Digestives forgot.

Got, got, needs

I’ve started collecting Panini World Cup stickers

It’s a habit I thought I had licked; I hadn’t peeled a sticker since Mexico 86. Yet within hours of receiving a free sticker album with a World Cup Guide, I found myself marching into the nearest newsagents and asking: “Hi, do you sell World Cup stickers? My son has been looking everywhere for them”. Addiction begets lies. It wasn’t long before I was back home, surrounded by expended packets, breathing in the familiar adhesive musk and shuddering like Gary Oldman’s character in Leon

I’ve overcome the initial social discomfort of purchasing stickers and no longer feel the need to fib to newsagents about fictional children or attempt to cover my purchase with less embarrassing items (“Two packets of World Cup stickers and a copy of Massive Jugs Enthusiast please, shopkeep!”). However, finding people to swap duplicates with is a challenge. 

In 1986, my main source of procuring swaps was the school playground. Sadly, modern society has judged it inappropriate for 35-year old men to loiter in schoolyards, rummaging through their pockets and rhythmically breathing “Need! Need! Need!” as small boys discretely reveal their wares. We live in cynical times. 

I’m not alone though. I’ve bullied a colleague into starting a collection; gradually breaking his resolve with weeks of Bart and Lisa Simpson-style repetition (“Have you started a collection yet? Have you started a collection yet? Have you started a collection yet?”). Today he appeared at my desk and reported, “I’ve found somewhere else that sells them. I got ten packs”. I responded in the only way I know how: “show me”.

 The internet is also alive with forums populated by people from all corners of the globe arranging exchanges and listing swapsies. Who would have thought the internet would be employed for such nerdy activities? Thousands of people who should probably know better are meeting up in dark corners in a desperate attempt to complete their albums. I’ve read tales of grown men nervously approaching other grown men in pubs and whispering “are you… a collector?” 

As you’d imagine, the web is also a breeding ground for conspiracy theories on the distribution strategies of Panini. In a recent Guardian article, Panini denied there are any regional differences in the distribution of stickers, but if that’s the case, why are people in Australia reporting a complete absence of Chile stickers? Why Panini, why? You get us hooked and then you try to fob us off with an inferior product. I’ve seen The Wire, I know how this shit goes down. 

My partner has been fairly understanding throughout all this. Certainly more understanding than I would be if she started spending $5 a day on, say, Property Ladder stickers. She even treated me to twenty packets recently. It was only when she saw my eyes glaze over and witnessed the fevered manner in which I ripped them from their packets that she questioned whether this was really something she should be encouraging.

If anyone who knows where I can get my hands on a Yuji Nakazawa sticker, you know where to find me.


7 Responses to “Got, got, needs”

  1. Hmmm, I’m afraoid 376 is missing from my book too, but I do know a man who says he can get it for me in exchange for two shinies and a mascot …

  2. Brilliant blog, sums up my renewed passion for Panini stickers excellently (I too had not opened a packet in anger since Mexico ’86).

    Thanks to the internet I’ve managed to half fill my album without producing hundreds of swaps (in fact as I type I’ve only got about 19 duplicates).

    Interestingly (that use of “interestingly” may be a lie), I got some swaps from someone in the US and was amazed that their stickers had blue writing on the backing rather than, what I’d assumed was the standard, black!

    Happy collecting.

  3. Good work mate. Don’t be shy, admit your passion. One of my most treasured possessions is a completed Mexico ’86 album (last sticker collected : Aleksandr Zavarov, USSR). These days I indulge my passions with things like prediction games on….best of luck to you!

  4. Great stuff – I heartily recommend the SwapStick site ( – I’ve probably swapped around a hundred stickers in my first week signed up to it.

  5. BOL that is just so funny!!!
    You enjoy your collecting & I hope you find all your swaps!
    Woof woof

  6. Twenty packs in one purchase!!! Wow. you’d better get her a Sarah Beeney’s norks in 3d foil badge.

    Adhesive musk, now you’re talking.

  7. Yuji Nakazawa made his way into my sticker book today … no swaps yet, though!

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