A classic Premier League tradition has been the collecting of football stickers – with swaps, shinies and completed teams all part of the fun.
But did you ever know anybody who actually completed an entire album?
Well some people managed the tricky feat, including Gabby Miller and Matt Elms – these are their stickers and the stories of their collections.
“I was 10 when I started collecting stickers for my first Premier League album,” said Gabby.
“Leicester City had been promoted to the Premier League via the play-off finals the previous year (1993/94) and I was just starting to take a real interest in football.”
“I’d buy a bunch of packets every Saturday when we went to the newsagents and I’d get home and sort them out by team all over the kitchen table.
“Given that Leicester were in the Premier League in the 1994/95 season, and it was the first album I’d done, I was determined to finish it. Also, these 3D glasses came with the album that worked on some stickers, which was cool.”
But as any avid sticker collector knows, the front cover of an album is under constant threat of falling off and being lost to the sands of time.
“The album has lost its cover now, probably from overuse, but I’ve still managed to keep it nearly in one piece other than that!” said Gabby.
“I clearly learnt from the mistake of losing my cover in 1995 though, as my 1998 album has got a proper hardback folder around it, so I can’t have been the only person to suffer that problem.”
“The shinies were always exciting to get in the packets,” continued Gabby. “Especially when you got one from the team you supported.
“It’s mad looking back at it now how young people like Jamie Redknapp were,” she added.
And while these albums are around 20 years old now, if anybody is still looking to complete them, Gabby might be able to help.
“I realised the other day my parents still have a pile of swaps from over the years in my old bedroom,” said Gabby.
“So if anyone needs to complete their sticker albums circa 1995 to 1999 you know where to come!”
“I was nine years old when I first started to collect them,” said Matt. “I was, and still am, a massive football fan, so the chance to play and collect anything football related was great.
“I remember them being 25p a packet and every Saturday morning my Dad would take me to the local newsagents and I’d buy six packets.
“I’d open them whilst watching Saturday morning TV, excited at the prospect of getting some more shinies – they were the ones everyone wanted.”
Of course, a lot of sticker swapping went on in the school playground, but as Matt notes, bringing the entire album in could be risky.
“School lunch time was when most of the swap business would take place,” said Matt. “We’d all be there, me with my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles bum bag. Inside were my swaps and a hand-written list of all of the numbers that I needed.
“I’d never take my album in with me,” said Matt. “Too much chance of it getting lost or ruined.
“I remember one of the dinner ladies used to bring her son’s stickers in to swap. I loved swapping with her as she always swapped one for one – the correct way in my eyes!”
But even for someone as accomplished at completing sticker albums as Matt was, it was very difficult to fill the album without a little help.
“When the albums had been out a while, Merlin used to provide the option of buying the remaining few that you needed,” he said.
“With 300-400 stickers to collect, the chance of naturally collecting them all was something that £2 pocket money a week wouldn’t have been able to afford!”