Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Recently-Acquired Panini Sticker Album of the Day #2: 'Football 79'

Another recent purchase in the interests of establishing a small but perfectly-formed collection, Panini’s Football 79 is not an album I recall from its day – following on from the original Euro Football 76/77, I remember the domestic Football 78 collection too, had the album & acquired a fair few stickers (including the gold club crest ones), but by the 78/79 season we’d moved on from football to music as our true obsession, so were probably in post-Shoot! mode – but, with the benefit of hindsight & suffused with nostalgia for the styles of those more innocent times, it seemed an essential acquisition now & so came to pass, via ebay, as these things have a habit of doing.

And what a thoroughly sensible decision to invest it has been, for this album features for the first & only occasion fabric club badge stickers to go alongside the player images, which themselves, in terms of primary stylistic feature, are a veritable paean to the power of the perm, however incongruous & hopelessly unsuited to the wearer/victim this hairstyle might have proved to be. Soon, of course, the perm-moustache combination would become particularly closely identified with Liverpool FC & Liverpudlians, as a stereotype, but, prior to this focussing of attentiom, the entire UK, with its football fraternity to the fore, followed the lead established by Kevin Keegan (who had set the trend then quickly decamped to Germany, there to spread the gospel already introduced by Paul Breitner – think of the likes of, e.g, Harald Schumacher & Rudi Voller, keeping the torch burning across the football pitches of the globe through the Eighties) & hair literally exploded into the available space, so many examples of which grace the pages of Football 79, an orgy of delight for anyone with an eye for the socio-history of style.

Yes, & going beyond the first inside page with its rather lovely multi-sticker map of the UK & its primary football locations, it’s not just Liverpool &, referring back to the front cover, Everton’s Bob Latchford for example, but the likes of Middlesbrough (featuring, amongst others, former fearsome icon of the mighty Wrexham, Billy Ashcroft), Norwich City, Southampton &, north of the border, Hibernian & Partick Thistle too (just look at Alan Rough, fresh as he was from Scotland’s World Cup ’78 debacle, having to cope with yet more ignominy!) – indeed, the whole album as a gallery of portraits is a parade of hair-as-topiary, a crucial addition to the history of illustrated football publications &, as such, an absolutely necessary acquisition, to serve as both celebration of the time & caution against a return to its frothy excesses.

Also included is a spread of the Football League Second Division teams, featuring Wrexham, then at their zenith in the pyramid, making the Panini albums for the first time, & only few subsequent occasions, in their history.

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