Football fan finds 1996 sticker album with six players missing; tracks down all six players down to complete it
Some would say this is bordering on obsessive behaviour, but it’s a pretty great story nonetheless.
Sticker albums might not be so popular these days, but back in the mid-90s they were a must-have for young and not so young football fans who avidly collected stickers of the likes of Eric Cantona, Alan Shearer, Robbie Fowler and eh, Ken Monkou, Chris Bart Williams and Noel Whelan.
One such young fan, a 29-year old Portsmouth fan named Adam Carroll-Smith, was rooting around the attic at home earlier this year when he came across a Merlin sticker album from 1996 that he thought was completed, only to find that he was missing stickers belonging to six players.
Most of us would cut our losses and return the album to where it came from but according to the BBC website, Carroll-Smith had a "gut punch" on discovering the missing stickers and decided that a “great wrong had to be righted”.
The six footballers in question read like a who’s who of distinctly mind-90s players from that era: Stuart Ripley and Lars Bohinen of Blackburn Rovers fame, former Manchester City captain Keith Curle, Newcastle legend Philippe Albert, ex-Chelsea midfielder Scott Minto and former QPR striker Gary Penrice.
Starting with Ripley, it took six months for Carroll-Smith to track them down via Internet searches, social media and word-of-mouth and he had to make trips abroad to Belgium, where Albert is working in the fruit and veg trade and to Norway, where Bohinen was competing in a Scandinavian version of Strictly Come Dancing.
Carroll-Smith eventually got pictures of all six sticker album absentees to complete his album and said that they “were all fantastic, really accommodating guys".
After all the hard work, you’d think that Carroll-Smith would frame the album or put it away somewhere for safe-keeping, but instead he threw it into the Solent strait separating England from the Isle of Wight.
Carroll-Smith has written a book about his experiences, which he described as “cathartic”.
"My wife and I have just had our first child, so this was a symbolic way of showing I'd grown up.
"The sticker album was then and this is now."
We’re sure the story will bring back nostalgic memories of sticker albums from the days of yore and led us to recall some of our own favourite stickers from days gone by.