Week 6 of the 2019 NFL season has the Carolina Panthers playing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Looking at the schedule, it looks like just a regular Sunday game but if you look closely you will see that they are playing at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London. Yes, that London. The NFL has been working for years to grow its overseas fan base. In fact, football games have been played there going back to 1983 with the Global Cup and then the American Bowl from 1986 to 2003.
We all know the jokes about how folks from the USA call football, you know football, and how other countries call football, soccer. There is a learning curve when learning a new sport. Fans wondering how to play football and how to understand the new football terms. Well most collectors might not know that Topps tried to help the situation and in 1987 produced an United Kingdom only set of football trading cards. This was a mini-sized version of the 1987 Topps football cards and was distributed only in the United Kingdom for British fans of American football. The cards measure only 2 1/8″ by 3″ compared to the standard 2 ½” by 3 ½”. Some of the photos used are different from the regular 1987 Topps issue football cards, although the style is essentially the same.
The cards are arranged in team order according to how they finished the 1986 season. Cards 76 through 87 are puzzle pieces, combining to show team action photos on their fronts and William “The Refrigerator” Perry on their backs. Card number 88 is the set checklist.
These were available is small cellophane packs with 5 cards and a piece of gum per pack. The boxes have 48 packs and come shrink wrapped with 4 yellow collector boxes. There are 24 boxes per case (unconfirmed). There is a red sticker on the clear shrink wrap stating “4 FREE American football collector boxes in this pack. Give a collector box to any buyer of 10 packs”. The box is marked with 12p (pence).
The cards were produced in the Republic of Ireland by Topps Ireland, Ballincollig, Cork. These cards are printed on white stock and have centering and cut issues like Topps OPC baseball and hockey cards.
There is no telling how these small football cards from Topps, helped kids over 30 years ago learn and embrace NFL football today.