The highlight of my day for many years was 3.30pm. As soon as the school bell chimed we were free, and would rush out of the doors and head home. But I wouldn’t be excited that CITV was starting, nope 3.30pm was football sticker time.
My mum would buy me a packet of stickers every day without fail. Whilst my sisters got a chocolate bar I was much happier ripping open the packet and seeing what superstars I’d be sticking into my book that day. “Got, need, got, need, need”.
Premier League stickers were massive in my school. Our local newsagents would sell out as soon as they’d bought another box such was the demand. Mum used to buy in bulk so I wouldn’t be disappointed, ensuring I got my sticker fix each day. They were my drug of choice.
I dabbled with Premier League 96 and I got hooked right away. Swapping was the most fun, with the main rules being a biggie only being swapped for a similar sized sticker, and shineys being worth two or three regular stickers. The playground was full of dealers. And then there was sticker number one with the Premier League logo on it. There was a myth that they made less of these which made it more valuable, and those would had a swap of it would be offered big amounts.
But playground crime began to rise. Opportunistic kids would steal them from other kids’ bags, or mug classmates of their favourite players. I would always try and smuggle mine in and deal behind the back of the old bike shed, but once caught my pile would be confiscated and I’d be in detention.
This was just a hurdle to my addiction, and I didn’t stop until I had them all. Flicking through a complete book was the ultimate high for me. But once 96 was done I had to fill the void with something.
Fortunately Euro 96 stickers followed and then Premier League 97. Then 98. Me and my mates found a way around the school’s banning order by creating our own swap shop on a Wednesday breaktime and we were finishing albums in March as we were the only official traders of stickers for the rest of the school. When I’d finally realised my problem and cut myself off, I’d completed every collection from 1995 to 2004.
My passion for stickers still continues, but I sold my complete stash on Ebay for £200 to help fund a school exchange to America in Sixth Form. But from time to time I still spot the occasional pack sometimes and have to put everything I have into not buying them. The temptation is always there. Cold turkey is indeed hard going…