Regrets, as they say, I've had a few. Most are far too personal - even for me - to post here, and tend to involve me acting like a complete bastard. Many are of a trivial or selfish nature, such as my continued failed, after three decades to complete 1:72 scale Airfix model of a Mil-24 helicopter; or my youthful failure to see a girl called Julia naked, mostly because I was sick down her billowing cleavage at a party.
However, the one thing that I regret the most is this: Twenty-eight years on, and I still need eight stickers to complete my Panini Football 78 album. Now is the time to face down this particular demon, and do what I know best. Beg shamelessly off the internet.
February 1978. On my twelfth birthday, my mother decided that I was old enough to control my post office savings account. I couldn't agree more. I cashed in all my stamps, lumped in all my birthday money and pissed the lot up the wall on 150 packets of football stickers. My mum, when she found out, threw a total barney.
Still: Brightside. With a bit of luck and some judicious swappage, I reached a point where I needed a mere eight stickers to complete my set. At that point, I would have been able to send a cheque for 16p to get the stickers I needed. But - my chips were well and truly pissed on. I had wiped out my savings, and I never quite got round to completing my collection.
And what a collection. Where else would you see this picture of Newcastle's Paul Cannell, Wolves manager Sammy Chung (who joins Viv Anderson and Laurie Cunningham as the only three in the whole album who are not white Europeans) or Clydebank's Willie Munro, who clearly has a second job as a gamekeeper? Or, a frighteningly happy Alex Ferguson before he became a red-faced misery, or - best of all - Tottenham Hotspur in the second division.
So: is there anybody out there with the following swaps -
- 66 Gerry Gow (Bristol City)
- 179 Steve Whitworth (Leicester City)
- 281 John Ryan (Norwich City)
- 299 Frank Clark (Nottingham Forest)
- 368 Frank Munro (Wolverhampton Wanderers)
- 384 Brighton and Hove Albion team photo
- 450 Stewart Kennedy (Aberdeen)
- 451 Willie Miller (Aberdeen)
In return for these particular golden tickets, I will give you this: Any Money, and will most certainly Be Your Best Friend. Failing that, asigned photograph of my bottom, or something. Give the punters what they want, that's me all over.
But even if I complete my collection, there would still be dreadful, dreadful regret. The act of attaching the stickers, you see, would mean covering up the excellent doodles my sister added to fill the gaps. What's a man to do, because she might actually kill me to death over this.
I know now that I may go to my grave never knowing what Gerry Gow looks like.