The World Cup starts next week, a month of unparalleled sporting charades guaranteed to culminate in English disappointment.
Since 1966 England have flirted with success, but have never quite lived up to our monumental expectations.
Anticipation of success is so realistically low that actually making the World Cup finals feels like a bit of a result – anything else would be a bonus.
Past tournaments are entombed in one’s mind, particularly España ’82 and Mexico ’86 – blazing summers, watching Keegan and Robson weave their magic and then re-enacting their exploits on the sunbaked fields next to Baffins Pond.
As well as the on-pitch shenanigans, the Panini sticker albums took on almost biblical qualities in the school playground.
Got, got, needs, got, swapsies and scrambleseys was the bartering language of Langstone First School in the summer of ’82.
Dads across the nation questioned why we were wasting pocket money on filling the album with stickers, when it would be thrown in the bin once the tournament was over.
At 1p per sticker, it cost £17 to fill the book. A mullet-toting Paul Mariner and a moustachioed Polish ‘keeper stood between me and success/glory/closure/fulfilment.
This year there are 640 stickers to collect, so realistically it’ll cost £64-£150 to complete the album – depending on how many doubles are accrued. All things considered, it’s probably cheaper than the ’82 version.
But as collecting stickers isn’t exciting enough nowadays, the manufacturers offer a few on-line extras. Why not join the Facebook page, speak to strangers in far-flung lands, reporting how your collection is coming together? Or maybe watch a video on YouTube of a person fanning through their completed album.
If that’s not enough, you could download the app and collect stickers virtually. But that will mean youngsters missing out on the time-honoured tradition of defaced stickers loitering on the headboard eight years after the tournament.
On eBay you can pick up a completed ’82 sticker book for £100 + postage. It’s a self-adhesive slab of history…for nerds.