Tartan Army dads relive Scotland glory days with sticker album craze
'Got, got, got, got, need, shinies, doublers and swapsies' - It is a language unique to men of a certain age who are now reliving their youth in a new and unexpected craze sweeping the country - football sticker albums.
An unlikely alignment of the stars has seen the Scotland men's team reach Euro 2020, its first major tournament for the first time in more than 20 years, at exactly the same time as the Covid lockdown has not only kept fans away from grounds but given them unexpected brass back in their pocket... at just the moment there are no pubs to spend it in.
Now a tide of men (and it is normally men) who would otherwise be kicking their heels are reliving their youth by splurging their spare cash on their favourite childhood hobby of the 70s and 80s, collecting and swapping football stickers to fill up albums.
Undisputed kings of the sticker album, Italian firm Panini, were quick to grasp the commercial potential of Scotland's once-in-a-generation tilt at glory earlier this year, and launched a 'journey to the finals' album almost as soon as David Marshall's hands had stopped stinging from his famous penalty save against Serbia.
With stickers selling these days in packs of five for 80p, collectors can expect to shell out a healthy amount before they complete the full 200-sticker album.
Undeterred, the Scotland fans have been buying it in droves.
Chris Clover, of Panini UK's head of sports marketing, said: "We have been lucky in that our regular outlets, supermarkets, newsagents and independent retailers have all stayed open during the pandemic.
"The Scottish album flew out of the blocks both in normal outlets and our online store, so much so that we have had to have extra albums and stickers printed at our factory in Modena.
"We even joked on our social media channels that it was like the Tartan Army had come in and stripped our shop bare."
Gordon Sheach, 32, the man behind fan website TheTartanscarf.com has now created a 'virtual school playground' where collectors can beat lockdown to trade their unwanted stickers for those they need by using the hashtag #scotswap on social media.
He said: "The idea for #ScotSwap came from chats between me and Craig McFarlane, host of the Football Kit Memories podcast who is based in London and was keen to find a way to complete his collection.
"It was the end of January when the album came out, the darkest days of lockdown. Ok it was immature, but it was something we all needed.
"Almost as soon as I launched it it went absolutely crazy.
"Also I think most Scottish fans realise there is a good chance we won’t actually be able to get to go to the games in person. This album gives us a physical link to the tournament."
One of those who has made use of #scotswap is 42-year-old computer programmer dad-of-two Mark McMullan, from Baillieson, Glasgow.
He said "Both me and my mate from our local Tartan army bus have been doing. He actually bought three albums 'for himself and his kids'.
"It is a bit of nostalgia, my first Scotland album was Italia 90, but it has been great to connect with my kids by going through it together.
"To begin with I would open packets with them but then I started to buy them when out myself so I could selfishly enjoy it alone. I don’t know how you can spin that as good parenting?"
For dad-of-two police CCTV operator Douglas Macleod, lockdown has provided the perfect opportunity to fuilfill a 35-year quest to finish off his Mexico ‘86 sticker album when he got his hands on the last sticker he needed, that of imposing bearded Hungarian defender, Antal Roth.
The 43-year-old said: “I found two albums when I was moving flat a while back, the Mexico ‘86 one and Football ‘85.
"I have spent pretty much the last year scouring eBay and finding the last 20 or so from the Mexico album and I just finished it recently with the last sticker, It was a great feeling.
“I am still working on the Football ‘85 album. There are worse things I could be spending my money on after all.”
The full Euro 2020 tournament sticker album is launched on March 25.
A recent study by a professor at Cardiff University estimated it cose the average fan, with the average circle of friends, £773.60 to fill a Panini album for the last major tournament, the 2018 World Cup.