"You'll believe a boy can fly"
It’s not just collecting the film cards that I remember. I can still smell and taste the rock hard slab of “chewing” gum that came in each packet. Pink, rectangular and as brittle as anything. You had to make sure you put it on your tongue first or risk slicing your gum or cheek open!!
The cards I remember collecting the most were for Star Wars and Superman. You not only had to get hold of every single card to fill the album but the Superman ones also had a puzzle-picture on the back that when laid in a certain way, displayed a poster size shot of the great man himself, in all his cape-flapping glory.
Well, different generation but the same old merchandising tricks means that Joseph is now the main collector of whatever’s going and I have to admit that that time has finally arrived.
Yes, he now 'loves' football and is an avid collector of the Match Attax card series. I guess I knew the time would come when the playground games and talk would win him over but, not being in the least bit interested in the ‘beautiful game’ myself, I did wonder if it wouldn’t rub off on him but alas, no.
Thanks in part to our close friend and neighbour being a lifelong (60 years plus) Chelsea fan, Joseph has been the recipient of blue football kits and blue footballs on most of his relatively few birthdays.
Naturally there is some competition in the playground to collect some of the more desirable player cards and in these, Joseph has been more than a little unlucky with the “top” players staying firmly away from any packets that he has opened.
Until Thursday evening that is.
He was sat in the car opening several packs while I put petrol in. As I walked back to the car, he looked up and I could tell straight away that he was pleased about something. I opened the back door to look at him and he was beaming, holding a card close to his chest.
"Who is it?" I asked, wondering, hoping.
He didn’t say a word but looked down at the card, taking it away from his chest as if to double check that he hadn’t made a mistake. He smacked it back onto his chest and closed his eyes, looks up and let out a roar of delight.
"Y-e-s-s-s-s", he laughed, "YES!"
He turned the card for me to see and there, with that silly annoying pout was Manchester United’s Ronaldo. For some of these players to stand out in an entire premierships-worth of cards, a select few belong to the 100 Club, Ronaldo being one of them. Coupled with the fact that most of the boys at school want this one (as well as goalkeeper Peter Cech), Joseph was obviously delighted.
I thought that from a football point of view, things wouldn’t get much better for Joseph this week but I was wrong.
Our aforementioned Chelsea mad friend across the road knocked on the door at lunchtime today and asked if we would like two spare tickets to watch Chelsea play at home to Wigan this afternoon. I smiled and called Joseph out, asking Chelsea Rog’ to repeat what he had just said to me.
The smile on Joseph’s face was response enough, and so it was that we found ourselves (along with nearly 41,000 others), watching John Terry and Frank Lampard score the goals that would beat Wigan into a 2-1 defeat. I have to admit, the atmosphere was catching, football fan or no football fan and to top it all off, as we were leaving the ground with the rest of the fans, we found ourselves walking out next to two Chelsea pensioners, one of whom turned to Joseph and said, "here you go son, have my programme".
We ended up walking a long way back to our car but were rewarded with an incredible sunset over the river as we crossed Wandsworth Bridge.
I have a feeling that Joseph will remember today for a very long time.