Monday, May 11, 2015

Recently-Acquired Panini Sticker Album of the Day #1: Belgian Football '88

As might have become apparent from the recently-completed ‘World Cup ’74 Portraits’ drawing project (see the March 2014 – March 2015 archives), we’re pretty keen on old (& not so old) Panini (& similar) sticker albums here at TOoT, enjoying what we already own, considering their contents as raw material for future art projects, & by no means from an obsessive collector’s point of view but nonetheless keeping an eye out for what might be the occasional suitable addition to a small but perfectly-formed collection, aesthetically, historically & nostalgically.

Thus did a recent potter around ebay bring to attention a few choice items, not least this Euro-gem from the Eighties (the Seventies are best, of course, but this such vintage isn’t to be sniffed at by any means) &, delightfully Belgium, one of our favourite footballing places for its teams’ & players’ names, which seductively proved impossible to resist, especially with an injunction to ‘Buy it Now’, & was accordingly invested-in without further ado.

Here it is then, Panini’s Belgian publication ‘Football 88’, as it arrived, the unfilled album together with the complete set of stickers, nine packets of which were sellotaped to a square of cardboard, in grid form (which arrangement never fails to tickle our fancy, of course), just waiting to be joined together in their proper, intended fashion: oh, the prospect of those joyful hours of precise sticking-as-artistic-endeavour, the consumer as maker of the finished aesthetic object, rather than mere passive recipient.

Opening the first package of stickers revealed a consecutive run of numbers (this particular one being, apparently, the second batch of the album’s contents ordered in such form), that we enthusiastically set about assigning & applying to their appropriate places in the book, as might be appreciated by this evidence of the completed Beveren pages. Note, for itself & future reference, the bilingual Walloon & Flemish legends that relate to each player’s sticker, another delightful feature of the album’s heady contents. How nice also to become reacquainted with one David Fairclough, of Seventies’ Liverpool ‘Supersub’ fame (even as he sank our beloved St Etienne in that legendary European Cup quarter-final), popping up in something of an unlikely place.

However, it occurred that a yet more enjoyable creative experience might be had by encountering the stickers in random fashion, in the manner of one acquiring the individual packets of 5 or 6 stickers, as sold & bought with one’s necessarily limited pocket money funds, &, indeed, as the subjects for the World Cup ’74 drawing project had been selected.

To this end, all the stickers were unpacked & decanted into a suitable receptacle, most appropriately in this case an old ‘Belgian selection’ biscuit tin (it was just here, waiting for such an occasion), now ready to be picked as they come, almost, as it must be admitted that the two-sticker composite First Division team group pictures were removed in order that they be applied in & as their pairs, that the two halves could be placed together & compared in order to establish their proper/best fit within the allocated space(s).
This having been achieved, we have proceeded accordingly… least until such point as the first pair of half-sized stickers representing the Second Division clubs & players was encountered, & the paralysing discovery made that they were, in a significant way, too large to fit the available space, that they would, rather than fit snugly between the upper Walloon & lower Flemish text, instead have to obscure one or other of the languages! There ensued, of course, an identity crisis brought on by this discovery – in Belgian mode, are we one or the other, which side of the linguistic & cultural divide to we favour? After much conscience-wrestling & consideration (& laughter from the observing A), aesthetics came to our aid & the decision was taken, in terms of appearances, that the Flemish legend, occurring below the stuck image, should take precedence but, so as not to consign the Walloon to history, the stickers should not be unpeeled but, rather, retain their backing in order that they can be glued to the page(s) in a manner that allows the sticker to be curled forward from the top so that the Walloon text can be seen behind: it’s not ideal, of course, but it is a solution, of sorts.

On the subject of these Second Division stickers, admire the style as sported here by the legendary Hungarian Laszlo Fazekas, featured now as manager of Eendracht Aalst but previously a recurring star in such Panini albums as the Euro Footballs of ’77 & ’79 & the World Cup ’78 edition, & also FKS’s Argentina ’78 publication.

Anyhoo, we hope soon to have completed this marvellous addition to the football sticker album collection.

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