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Found 4 results

  1. Major League Soccer made a licencing announcement in May that will have been missed by many, but will have been of great interest to my fellow football memorabilia collectors. Topps were awarded the exclusive MLS license is for trading cards, player stickers, sticker albums and other collectibles, with immediate effect. For fans of a certain age, it will take them back to the Topps cards that were produced during the NASL era of North American football and their popular sets produced in the UK. The new MLS deal saw Topps take over from Upper Deck who had previously produced the player collector card sets, including ones for Vancouver Whitecaps in their first two years in Major League Soccer. Topps were founded in 1938, manufacturing chewing gum and bubblegum. In a bid to boost sales after the Second World War, Topps packaged their gum with trading cards, with the first sports ones being a baseball series of cards in 1952. The company continued to go from strength to strength and are one of the most widely known companies in that particular field of sports memorabilia worldwide. They’ve produced a number of football cards and stickers over the years and have the official licence from the English Premiership to produce sticker albums and trading card sets. For those of us of a certain age, the Topps cards from the 1970s are their iconic design and there is a retro nod to the design of their English league set from 1978 in the new 2013 set, but more on that later. But Topps weren’t just producing football cards over in the UK at that time, they also brought them out over here, including an iconic set for the North American Soccer League in 1979, which old time collectors here may remember. The 33 card set featured sticker cards of all 24 NASL clubs, along with one of the NASL logo, an NASL soccer ball and a "soccer is a kick in the grass" sticker card. The other six were just strange mish mashes of four team names on a card. The sticker cards came in packs of four and were wrapped in wax paper along with a stick of bubblegum. Each pack cost a whopping 15 cents. Changed days indeed. Once you’d peeled your stickers off (if you wanted to put them on an accompanying wallchart) there was still some fun to be had. The backs of 21 of the stickers made up two picture puzzles that you could put together. Three of the other cards showed you what the pictures should look like and the remaining nine were instructional "how to" play soccer cards. 'Puzzle A' was made up of 12 cards. When that one was put together it made up two photos of NASL action. 'Puzzle B' was smaller and made up of nine cards. When that one was put together it made up a picture of Werner Roth of the New York Cosmos holding up the NASL trophy. The cards were really cut in a higgledy-piggledy manner, but still a fun thing for kids and the young at heart of the time. They haven't really gained any real collectors' value over the years, meaning you can still pick them up fairly cheaply. Happy memories there for some I’m sure and now we move forward 34 years. A general feeling is that Topps really missed the boat on what they could have done with their NASL sets. Let's hope they don't repeat that mistake with their new MLS ones. The 2013 Topps MLS cards are both welcome and infuriating. Welcome because there are so many different sets and cards to collect and infuriating because the Whitecaps don’t feature that much in them. The cards come to buy in individual packs of six, value boxes of eight packs and hobby boxes containing 24 packs. The hobby boxes guarantee to have at least one of the special autograph or relic cards, which we'll tell you more about later. Collectors have a lot to acquire and completests will have large credit card bills, with some of the cards considerably scarce. Altogether there are 12 different sets/inserts along with the base set, which itself comes with a number of variations/inserts. The base set features 200 cards, ten of which are Whitecaps: Joe Cannon, Jun Marques Davidson, Gershon Koffie, Young-Pyo Lee, Jay DeMerit, Daigo Kobayashi, Darren Mattocks, Kenny Miller, Andy O’Brien and Alain Rochat. For most collectors that’s all they will want and they’re the easiest to come by. The base set also comes in "parallel cards", which are basically the same card but with some different colouring in the background. These come in blue, gold and black variations and from what we can gather, all ten Caps are available in these. Seems completely pointless and just another way to make people spend money but they have been around for decades so there’s obviously some demand from the keenest collectors out there. There is also a scarce "Base Variations Set" of 20 cards which features an alternative photo of players like Thierry Henry and Robbie Keane, but no Whitecaps. You’ll only find one of these cards in every 349 packs. As alluded to above, the other big set to collect this year is their retro nod to the English cards issued in the late 70’s. The "1978 English Footballer Set" contains 60 cards, all done in the classic 70’s style and although they will probably look a little weird to some, for those of us what were kids around that time, the memories come flooding back. There are only two Whitecaps cards in the set: Darren Mattocks and Jay DeMerit. There is also an 18 card "1978 English Footballer Autographs Set", serial numbered /25, but unfortunately there are no Caps featured in that set. Whitecaps do feature however in two of Topps’ other new autographs sets. The 15 card "SuperDraft Autographs Set" features Kekuta Manneh (with gold, black and red parallels), and the 54 card "MLS Maestros Autographs Set" includes Jay DeMerit and Darren Mattocks (with gold, black and red parallels). The biggest disappointment for me is that the Whitecaps do not feature at all in the 10 card "MLS Rivalries Set". Ten cards, 19 teams, you’d think we’d get in there somewhere but nope. Neither do Columbus Crew. Seattle, New York and DC all feature twice though. After having no game in rivalry week, I think MLS are trying to tell us something. There are seven other sets that contain no Whitecaps cards: Autographed Relics Set (17 cards with parallels); Extra Time Redemption Autographs Set (3 cards); Golden Boot Die-Cut Autographs Set (14 cards); Minis Set (15 smaller cards); MLS Kits Relics Set (31 cards with parallels); Pure Soccer Set (20 cards); Pure Soccer Autographs Set (7 cards). If you’re an absolute completest, you can also keep an eye out for the rare one card "Official MLS Soccer Ball Redemption Set". Whether you're a new collector or one that's been collecting such things for years, that's a lot for you to start looking into, modern and vintage. You can find the modern day Topps cards in memorabilia and hobby stores or online at the Topps website and card stores, although I dread to think what the postage will be to Canada. Ebay is usually my main shopping spot for such things and you'll be able to pick up both the 2013 Topps sets and the 1979 old NASL one on there. Go on. You know you want to. Just don't eat any of the bubblegum that comes with the 70's packs.
  2. 'Found In The Attic' is AFTN's look at some of the wonderful pieces of Whitecaps, Canadian and North American footballing memorabilia and collectibles from both yesteryear and more recent times. We continue the series with a look at some Canadian national team memorabilia. With World Cup qualification hopes on the line tomorrow in Honduras, it seemed a very fitting time to dig this one out. As each World Cup cycle comes around, it’s always hard not to think back to the one time that Canada did qualify. Mexico 86 will long live in the memories of Canadian football fans and for those of us who still have the Panini sticker album from the tournament, it will live on even longer. There was lots of memorabilia produced for the World Cup that year, as every year, but for me, you can’t get much better than a Panini sticker album. Long time readers of AFTN will already know our love for Panini sticker albums. The Mexico 86 one has always been one of my favourites, partly due to the fact that it’s the oldest one I still have that was originally mine. I bought an Espana 82 one off ebay, but it doesn't have the same sentimental attachment when it’s not yours. Add in the fact that it’s the only one that features both Scotland and Canada and now it’s even more special! Remember when we both qualified for World Cups? Sadly a whole generation on both sides of the Atlantic doesn’t, but we always have our Panini memories. The 52 page album featured 427 stickers in all, featuring World Cup posters of years gone by, host cities, stadia and, of course, the teams and players. It cost 20p in the UK, 49c in Canada and 35c in the US. Sadly my sparsely completed album will cost an arm and a leg to try and complete now, but I do at least have a completed Canada page! And what a hairdresser’s nightmare that now looks! With Canada being minnows they weren’t afforded the two page spread reserved for the bigger sides. They were reduced to a single page effort, along with the likes of South Korea, Iraq, Algeria and Morocco. Only Iraq and Canada have never qualified for the Finals again. . The players couldn’t even get a sticker each and had to share their moment in the spotlight with a team-mate. You did at least get the squad photo and the highly sought after silver foil badge in the ten sticker collection. It’s interesting to look back on the 16 players featured. When I was sticking those into my album 26 years ago, I never thought I’d be living in the mysterious country of Canada, never mind chatting regularly with many of the players featured. Bobby Lenarduzzi still has his full head of hair, but the others haven't fared so kindly! Carl Valentine isn't quite sporting an afro in the photo but it's certainly more than he has now. Current media pundits David Norman and Paul Dolan must be looking back on these photos and reminiscing about many things, and like myself, combs being one of them. Ten of the 16 players played for Vancouver Whitecaps/86ers at some point in their careers. How times have changed with the current Canadian national team, never mind the actual Canadian content with the Whitecaps first team. Will Canada ever reach another World Cup finals? Will it be Rio, or will we have a longer wait? Whenever it does happen again, I'm looking forward to adding a new set of Panini stickers to my collection.
  3. 'Found In The Attic' is AFTN's look at some of the wonderful pieces of Whitecaps and North American footballing memorabilia and collectibles from both yesteryear and more recent times. We continue the series with a look at another piece of NASL memorabilia. As the MLS regular season comes to a close, thoughts are turning to who will lift the MLS cup come December 1st. If you're a Vancouver Whitecaps fan and you're thinking of Championships, then your thoughts will always go back to 1979 - "That Championship Year". Winning the NASL Soccer Bowl that year is still the pinnacle of the Whitecaps long and proud history and that victory, and the whole 1979 season, was captured for posterity in a 20 page publication produced by the Club. Sold for $2, "1979 - That Championship Year" chronicles the Caps' Championship winning season, from pre-season through to returning home to Vancouver with the trophy and parading through the city in front of over 100,000 fans. Written by Josh Keller, and punctuated with 20 photographs from various sources, the special edition of 'Kick' magazine tells the story of the season through an introduction, 24 various 'shorts' and a four and a half page section entitled "Soccer as it should be", which chronicles the last regular season game and the playoffs. For those, like myself, who weren't around at the time, it paints the perfect picture of a perfect season. There's all the highs, all the lows and lots of great stories. It's the closest you can get to teleporting yourself there for the year. Headings like "The Rivalry", "Willie's Magic", "Gross Robbery", "Shootout Bloody Shootout" and "Sounders Flounder", regale the reader with tales of the original Cascadia rivalries, shootout wins and shootout losses, and the battles with the League's big names like Cruyff, Pele, Best, Neeskins, and Mueller. Soccer Bowl triumph aside, it was certainly a season of stories for the Whitecaps: selling out Empire early with 32,372 fans when the Cosmos came to town; a 14 minute stoppage for a mass brawl and pitch invasion in the return game in New York; tornados in Tulsa causing the first ever NASL match to be abandoned; a troublesome and referee confusing back bar in the Empire nets; and, of course, Willie Johnston's famous beer swig. There's even far fetched tales of games where the Whitecaps manage 26 shots! Carl and Bobby, can you please have a sit down with the current crop of Caps and explain to them how this works? If you love your history, if you love your Caps, then "1979 - That Championship Year" is a great addition to your collection. And if you don't know too much about that famous season in the Caps' history, then track this souvenir brochure down, as it's the perfect place to start to find out. There's been a few kicking around on ebay recently, so keep an eye out and relive the heady days of Soccer Bowl success and when the Whitecaps were the number one sporting team in Vancouver. I'm looking forward to buying the souvenir brochure for the Caps' first MLS Cup win. As fun as that will be, the stories just won't be quite the same.
  4. I'm a collector. Always have been, probably always will be. Not weird stuff, just good things, and especially football memorabilia. Programmes, stickers, cards, badges, books, magazines, comics and a lot more besides. Anything and everything football related, and if it’s to do with either East Fife or Vancouver Whitecaps then all the better. Looking through some of it the other day prompted me to start another new feature here on AFTN, 'Found In The Attic'. 'Found In The Attic' will look at some of the wonderful pieces of Whitecaps and North American footballing memorabilia and collectibles from both yesteryear and more recent times. We'll kick things off with an item from the days of the old NASL. The old North American Soccer League attracted some big names in the footballing world over it’s history. It also attracted some big name sponsors too, and one of them was Pepsi. Look through any of the old 'Kick' programs from the time and you’ll see some glorious full page ads, full of colour, bad hair and dodgy clothes. Here's one with Bobby Lenarduzzi from back in 1983. As long time supporters of the game in North America, Pepsi took their involvement with the Whitecaps one stage further that year and produced a set of Caps cap liners! It was a neat little twist and a great play on words. If you bought specially marked bottles of Pepsi cola, under the caps were special liners encouraging you to "Catch the wave with Pepsi". There were six to collect in the set, each one embossed with the strangely drawn face of one of the top Whitecaps players of the day. Legends one and all, but a strange mix for the set all the same. There was goalkeeper Tino Lettieri, who played two seasons with the Caps and played for Canada in both the 1986 World Cup and two Olympics. English international central defender Dave Watson only played one season for the Caps and he was lucky enough that it was the one that turned him into a drink liner! Appealing to more of the ex-pats was Irishman Fran O'Brien. Two seasons in Vancouver but ingrained into Whitecaps history thanks to Pepsi. The same fate was bestowed on Dutch midfielder, and Ipswich Town legend, Frans Thijssen. The last two cap liners in the set were thankfully set aside for two of the greatest Whitecaps legends. The ones that are still here today, tying the NASL and MLS Caps together. Ad starlet Bobby Lenarduzzi and Carl Valentine would be the two guys you'd really want to find under your Pepsi cap. I wonder if they got free Pepsi for a year for taking part in the promotion? I wonder if they even remember it! I'll have to find out and feed back. Does anyone reading this remember them? Or have them? There was a set going on ebay recently for $50 which I thought was crazily high. Obviously so did everyone else as they didn't sell! One lucky AFTN reader will be the proud owner of them though, as that's one of the prizes for the winner of our "Last Man Standing" competition. I'm a sucker for these kind of promotional items. They're great to look back on and think about what were very different times in football. It would also be nice if Pepsi or some other drinks company did something similar today for the current crop of Whitecaps. Who wouldn't want to find Joe Cannon under your cap? The Barry Robson ones would be reserved for ginger ale of course.
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