Collecting World Cup ones has become an obsession for many adults.
“GOT, got, need!”
This is the hypnotic chant I am resignedly getting used to hearing on a daily basis.
Not on the school playground or even in my own household you understand, but from grown men at LEP Towers.
Yes, England may be coming home, but World Cup fever has gripped supposedly grown up men – and women– and sent them transgressing back into childhood as they re-live their youth by filling their 2014 World Cup sticker albums.
Heartening though it is to see this decades old pastime hasn’t faded away in the digital age, if I received a £1 for every man who has muttered: “I’m collecting them for my son” as they furtively trade their “swapsies”, I would be a very rich woman indeed.
Or at the very least, I would have enough money to buy enough stickers to fill a World Cup sticker book in its entirety.
Mathematicians have calculated that the average number of sticker packs you would need to fill an album would be 899, costing more than £400.
Panini must be laughing all the way to the bank.
But being an expensive pursuit hasn’t put off the men at my workplace or in my social circle.
A handful of my colleagues are gathering round each other’s desks looking over their shoulders as though they are dealing crack while they trade their doubles. They are like drug dealers, but with stickers.
And don’t for one minute think any of us believe the lame excuse that they are swapping them on behalf of their sons and daughters.
Some of them have children who have absolutely no interest in football, while others have little ones who haven’t even mastered walking yet let alone kicking a football.
In fact, one of my colleagues who is going football sticker crazy has an unborn baby who has only reached the 20-week scan stage, yet apparently he needs a football sticker album filled on his behalf.
Bet he’s not even the size of a football yet. One male friend ruefully admitted his football sticker obsession is currently costing him more than his smoking habit.
Some of my so called intelligent workmates even keep a list of all the sticker numbers they need on their smartphones, while others have gone as far as creating spreadsheets listing their swaps and needs.
I have to admit that, many moons ago, I was sucked in by the sticker collecting craze myself. Care Bears and My Little Pony were my stickerbooks of choice and, if my memory serves me correctly, I paid the princely sum of 10p per pack of six stickers. There was uproar when they put the price up to 11p.
But I had an excuse for my sticker collecting obsession. I was a CHILD.
However, age seems to be no barrier to collecting stickers this year. It seems the only requirement is a desire to pour money down the drain.
The 2014 World Cup Brazil album has 640 stickers and each pack costs 50p for five stickers.
Panini claims that equal amounts of every sticker are printed. Yeah right!
Why in that case does my daughter have a fistful of Italy’s Daniele De Rossi stickers and half a dozen of Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo?
Yes, in our home, it is Yasminwho has been bitten by the sticker bug. I blame Marks and Spencer, who handed out the “free “sticker albums in a cunning ploy to deprive a little girl of all her pocket money.
Our lad Cameron asked if he could collect the footie stickers, too – but as he was already collecting the Match Attax Extra football cards we put our foot down and told him he had to stick to one collection.
Although the sticker collecting craze is retro, the modern method of swapping via social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook has reached fever pitch and have become the new virtual playground.
Just as well really as our children’s school has banned football sticker and card swapping because apparently they have been leading to too many arguments.
So I have been forced to take my daughter’s sticker swaps into school and join the surreptitious sticker gang in their shady dealings.
Well, you know what they say – if you can’t beat them, join them.
What I do want to know is, what will happen to all the unsold packs of football stickers once the World Cup is over?
Will the supermarkets be selling them off at rock bottom prices? Will there be a “whoops” section of unwanted footie stickers?
This thought entered my head after chuckling at a female colleague’s gleeful post on Facebook revelling in the upside of England being knocked out of the World Cup.
“I’ve just picked up cut price Lineker crisps and bargain World Cup Jaffa Cakes” she boasted joyously.
“Best result of the tournament!”