The account started because my son, who’s six and walks to school with me everyday, kept pointing out all the stickers on our walk from The Liberties towards town. He’s lost interest now, but I got a bit hooked and just carried on. I tend to take pictures in sets of about five or ten at a time, strolling around on my lunch breaks in the city centre, and post a single image once a day. You get some odd looks, but that’s never really bothered me.
I think the symbolism of it all is quite interesting. There are loads of street sticker type things out there, but I stick to football exclusively. The stickers are pretty temporary and over the course of the last year I’ve come across lots of examples of fans of rival clubs – presumably strangers to each other – returning to the same spot to slap stickers over the top of each other several times over.
There are all kinds of messages, from the quite witty political stuff (which Bohs and St Pauli are particularly good for), to pictures of trophy hauls and pointed digs at rivals. Some stickers will stay in place for ages, and other teams get ripped down almost as soon as I notice them.
I think what’s most interesting to me is the identity aspect of it. There are clearly lots of people who travel around the world sticking these things up. It seems to be particularly pervasive amongst German fans (at a guess, I’d say Dublin city centre has more stickers for German teams than any other country, including Ireland), and I see it as a bit of a cheeky identity marker, a kind of ‘I woz ‘ere’ with a footballing loyalty attached.
I’ve found stickers from all over Europe, the US and the odd far-flung corner (Uruguay stands out) just by making a habit of looking at them as I walk around the city.
Temple Bar, in particular, is a huge hotbed for them. I like that they’re this temporary marker of identity that I can then stick up online, and how much effort goes into some of the designs.
There’s no footballing loyalty to the account. I’ve made a point of sticking up stickers from clubs I personally don’t like (with no comment indicating my feelings), it’s more a document of what’s out there. It has had some interesting effects, too. I featured on Dublin Live talking about the account. At one stage, St Pauli fans were using a couple of pictures of Hansa Rostock stickers to track them down and cover them up, so it became kind of meta – like I was influencing the very micro-environment I was trying to document.
People sometimes send me images, too, though I don’t post them, I prefer to stick to ones I find myself and I’m not particularly looking to encourage people to put them up, I’m just photographing them when they’re there. There’s been the odd argument on the account, about who clubs are and what they represent – Shamrock Rovers and Bohemians having a pop at each other, or Liverpool fans mocking Borussia Monchengladbach fans for what they see as a very one-way ‘friendship’. I don’t get involved at all, but I do find it far more interesting than I ever thought it was going to be.
In terms of footballing background, I’m an Aston Villa fan (I was born and raised in England, but I’m now a naturalised Irish citizen), and follow the League of Ireland quite closely, particularly Pat’s, as they’re my nearest club, though it’d be a push to say I really support them.
The little guy and I are trying to hit as many League of Ireland grounds as we can this season. Mostly I’m fascinated with the cult side of football – while they’re clearly very capable and play exciting games, the rivalries of Manchester United and Liverpool, or Barcelona and Madrid are all a bit sterile to me, I prefer a real community to my football than the sterile corporate identities of most of the major clubs. I wrote a book, published last year, about CONIFA, an organisation for unrecognised countries playing the game. The passion there was raw, and shone through. I guess community-driven, street-level stuff is more my thing.