I was in a moral quandary last week when my friend, the Frenchman, texted me that the News of the World were giving away free 2010 World Cup Panini World Cup sticker albums with a copy of the paper.
We all know that the NOTW is a reprehensible rag that makes its living from tabloid tittle tattle and is the epitome of everything that is wrong with the world – along with football agents, politicians and pay-to-view porn sites. But this was a free Panini World Cup sticker album.
I thought back wistfully to the halcyon days of 1986; Simple Minds on my Walkman, school tie worn thinside out, Davina Bachelor on the bus, break-time consumed by swapping stickers of international footballers, shitting my pants on my first date… Okay, maybe the 1980s weren’t all sweetness and light. Exchanging Alessandro Altobelli Michel Platini and a Caramac for the much sought-after Gary Lineker turned out to be a good move, but going to see Top Gun the following Friday night didn’t. Especially not after going for an Indian. I never did get around to getting all the stickers, or getting sticky fingers with Davina. My enthusiasm for the former waned after Maradona’s Hand of God, and the latter’s enthusiasm for me waned after I blew mud in the cinema, after showing off in the curry house by ordering a Vindaloo.
It’s probably for the best that I didn’t buy this latest Panini album. Apart from not getting around to collecting all the players, having enough friends sad enough to swap with and being the laziest person I know, the Frenchman tells me that they’re different now. Apparently, the stickers don’t smell the way they used to when you unsheathe them from their cellophane backing. Also, the heads of some of the players have just been digitally and sacrilegiously placed onto the bodies of other players. Plus, you can actually make yourself manager of England by superimposing your own face on to Don Fabio’s via the Panini website. That’s just wrong. I mean, who in their right mind would want to be manager of England?
Fortunately, there are now better ways to look forward to the World Cup, which hopefully don’t involve soiling your trousers, unless like me in 2002 you lose a fortune on the spreads by backing the favourites in the group betting markets. As well as the myriad football betting markets to weigh up, there are fantasy football competitions to enter and score prediction games – the pick of which is Football Predicta.
Football Predicta is a football score prediction game you can play on Facebook for free. It gets under way this weekend, for the final weekend of the Premier League, and continues on into the World Cup. All you have to do is predict the correct scores of the matches and whoever scores the most points each week wins a £100 Free Bet with Bodog. Given that it’s free-to-enter and you don’t have to faff around with log-ins and sign-up details it’s a decent no strings-attached offering – unlike some girls, who are happy enough for you to pay for their meal and cinema ticket but go all frigid when you lay clay in the back row of the cinema. Click here to see the Facebook app…