Stuck On You: A love affair with footy cards



In every love story, there is always a beginning. A catalyst. Something that sets the wheels in motion to which the hand of a god would be perilous to dare halting. In most cases, it’s the first time you lay eyes on that special someone, when you feel your heart skip it’s first beat. You stand there giddy knowing that the course of your life has now veered onto a new, unbeaten track.


The spur for my fervent love affair with football was born twenty-three years ago through amassing Italian printed stickers.


In 1997, my older brother Phil had just started at the local primary school and as is customary, became subjugated by the latest playground fad – football stickers. The cajoling of Mum to allow him to kick off the collection no doubt ensued soon after enrolment, as a once stickerless album began to be diligently filled. Simultaneously noticing his pleasure and being keen to graduate from my hand me down ‘Hot Wheels’, I am certain that the four-year-old, overall clad version of me must have thrown one hell of a tantrum until a second album was purchased.


However, there were rules to this new interest. The first being that if Mum was to buy us a pack, we’d have to be on our best behaviour. No biting, no scratching, no ear pulling and certainly no veggie patch mud fights. Mum had her bargaining chip. We had an Achilles heel.


The second was spectacularly useful in my pursuit of completing the collection. It was decided that any doubles that Phil had amassed, that I was in turn missing, were to be handed over without anything necessarily having to leave my hands. Phil no doubt will still see these as unfair reparations imposed on him for simply being born earlier, but I couldn’t give a stuff whether it was a Darren Kowal or a mesmeric Hawthorn hologram sticker that made their way into my album, just so long as they were free of charge.


Year after year I threw down the gauntlet that I would complete that season’s set, but more than likely due to routinely petulant conduct and perpetual knuckle sandwiches, I never did realise the satisfaction of sticking the last action shot in place. Alarmingly, this still steals minutes of sleep from me on the odd occasion. Due to this and a habitual desire to feed the nostalgic portion of my being, I decided to trade some shrapnel for a packet of stickers that is officially old enough to order a drink anywhere in the world.





The rich red background, the old league logo and the five different fonts used on the front of the pack are enough to stir memories that mentally had me back in the sandpit at kindergarten.

Anticipation is also stirred. Would this pack yield an array of holograms and heroes or busts and burnouts?





I doubt there are many people, living or dead, who have seen a post peak Barry Stoneham mid acid trip. If you are part of this majority, here’s a sample for you.
This insert made up part of a seventy-two-card series that ran parallel to the two hundred and thirty-four sticker set. The entirety of the collection placed action shots of routinely drug tested athletes on juxtaposing psychedelic backgrounds. From memory, a selection of Bombers were slapped over fiery red mandalas, whilst the Hawks sat in front of a rank brown roundel.

Who knows whether any childhood collectors stepped through the gateway into a contemporary world of trance music, LSD and ‘bush doofs’ simply from pulling a Wayne Schwass card from their pack, but that life-sized cut out of a young Kouta I saw strapped to the speakers at Strawberry Fields in 2013 suggests there is at least one.


The day my little brother Hamish was born was also the day I tore open the wrapper to find Stoneham’s teammate Gary Ablett aptly on top of the pack. I’m not sure whether I was more excited at the haul or Hamish (sorry, Mate), but I do know that the less said about Ablett and narcotics the better.

I saw Barry on a Sandringham line train a few years ago. He really hadn’t aged at all and if it wasn’t for the fact that he was carrying a satchel and not a Sherrin, I would have probably seen his presence as an acid flashback apparition rather than a retired football on his way to the office.





The first adhesive backed face out of the pack was Barry Stoneham’s direct opponent for the 1992 grand final – two-time premiership Eagle, Glen Jakovich, otherwise known as the more kissable of the Jakovich brothers.


Jakovich held down the centre half back position in the talent-rich West Coast backline that also included Ashley McIntosh, Guy McKenna and John Worsfold. He was known for being possibly the only player over the course of the nineties that could and would get the better of Wayne Carey, due in no small part to his height and weight. A serious behemoth of a man, honestly built or otherwise.




Coincidentally, the next sticker was also a dual West Coast premier and was designed to fill the place in the album next to Glen. I speak of course of Drew Banfield. A remarkably consistent footballer, Banfield played twenty or more games in nine of his fourteen seasons spent entirely in Perth. The utility was made to wait twelve years to win his second premiership in what was to be his final AFL game, the 2006 grand final. The truly remarkable part of this was that Drew kept the same slick, flowing locks for the entirety of said drought. Kudos, Drew.



We must now board an Ansett flight to Sydney to meet with our next sticky superstar – Tony ‘Plugger’ Lockett. Maintaining the same hair for the duration of a career cannot be said for this man, but I do know that child Ed would have been on a high adding Anthony into his album. The angle from which this photo was taken shows the Lockett chassis in all its glory. A perfect balance between girth and guns. A gargantuan, goal kicking cyborg with his level eyes laser-focused on the big sticks, ready to add to another bag. The Swans’ shorts sponsor could well have been Tony’s personal brand. He truly did it his way crashing packs and caving faces on the road to immortality. They definitely broke the mold once they made Plugger.




Another mulleted Swan and a recently trimmed Pie trading the neck warmer for the fashionable curtains of the nineties. These ‘half and half’ stickers were designed to be stuck over the glossy, double page centrefold and once all were collected, the entirety of the 1996 All Australian squad would be smiling back at you, except for the perennially pissed off Rodney Eade. Roos was predictably selected at centre half back after a stellar season in which the Swans fell short in the grand final to North. Buckley’s magnet sat next to Roos’ on the half back line despite a season in which he slotted his highest tally of goals (29). 1996 was the sixth of Roos’ seven All Australian nods coinciding with Buckley’s debut in the squad, an honour he would achieve another six times.





The captain of the club in its inaugural year, the homecoming of Gavin Wanganeen must have been hyped beyond compare. The Brownlow medallist in 1993 with Essendon, Wanganeen returned to Alberton, the stomping ground for his and the Magpies 1990 SANFL flag. I particularly dig this sticker due to it looking remarkably like the Scanlens football cards of the seventies and eighties in which players were made to dress in their full uniform on a training night and hold ludicrous poses.  This snapshot of a leaping Wanganeen must have been taken early in the life of the Power, as his guernsey is missing the Scott’s Transport logo that was ubiquitous on Port Adelaide strips for their first decade in the league. Wanganeen would double his premiership tally in 2004 with four goals against the Lions to deny them a ‘four peat’ in the season’s finale. A week beforehand, Wanganeen tore my eleven-year-old heart out with his flawless second half performance against the Saints in the preliminary final. A loss I still ruminate on when I’m feeling particularly sadistic.
Cheers, Gavin.




The final decal for the album is none other than the plumber and burnout enthusiast, Damian Monkhorst. Originally from country Victoria, Monkhorst was a giant of a footballer with fantastic ability above his head. Monkhorst was directly involved in the implementation of the league’s ground-breaking racial vilification policy after ignorantly abusing Essendon’s Michael Long in the first of the now annual Anzac Day matches between the Pies and Dons. Despite their differences then, the two men are these days mates.  As the teeth in his skull dwindled with his career, ‘Monkey’ made his way from Victoria Park to Moorabbin for a final season in the sun. Regretfully, it was a season too late to again team up with his 1990 premiership teammate, Tony Francis, and recreate football’s equivalent of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito’s cult film ‘Twins’.


Despite a packet yielding no holographic logos, the nostalgic itch that had begun to envelop me has well and truly been scratched. It’s a shame that Select no longer produces football stickers in conjunction with cards, as future generations will never understand the pleasure of removing the sticker from its backing and with tongue out, trying to place it plumb within the allotted, yet restrictive margins of the album.



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About Ed Carmine

Lit grad, luddite and lover of the game.


  1. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says

    This is magnificent Ed. I was much older than you, but I shared similar. sticker-related frisson back in the 90s

    I too enjoyed those lysergicly designed cards

  2. Rod Gillett says

    Farmer to Baldock.
    Got Toby Grene signed card last weekend
    Happy but not in the same league as Farmer Whitten Skilton Barassi and the Doc

  3. Great stuff. Reckon the Drew Banfield pix is transposed. Terrible right foot kick and didn’t hold the ball in his right hand.
    Wish I had kept my 1960’s Mobil Footy Cards collection. And the Coke bottle caps where you had to scrape off the cork to find the footy player underneath. Some people were very careless and would recklessly bend the cap when opening the bottle. Nothing worse than finding a bent Lindsay Head or Bobby Gibson.

  4. YeahTigers2020 says

    Great piece. So detailed. I still remember the moment I saw Vin Catoggio getting into a van having bought some paint from a shop in Clifton Hill. I was also fascinated by his footy card – his hair was amazing. To see him in real life was truly exciting.

  5. Vin, one of the great Italian painters.

  6. Love it, Ed. A great yarn.
    I reckon we all have footy card memories of some description.

  7. Thank you for the kind words everybody. I’m glad to hear the piece resonated with you.

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