Football Programmes

It seems I that have gained an unhealthy and unnoticed – until this morning – obsession with hoarding carrier bags but that is beside the point.  I know football programmes probably won’t interest many of you but I would argue they are more than just a sporting item.

Every week hundreds of clubs take to the pitch for the entertainment of the masses and as ritual dictates, a programme must be bought, a souvenir of the day which is as necessary as all those other superstitions that fans do to make sure that their club wins.


Some of these habits are of course weird or just obsessive such as wearing the same underwear thus termed the ‘lucky pants’, not shaving whilst your team is on a good run, eating food in the same place at the same time for every home match, the list goes on and that’s not to mention the players’ idiosyncracies…

I have a liking for old programmes, I pick them  up randomly if I see them, the chance of ever getting the same one twice is extremely minute as there are over a centuries worth to collect from hundreds of teams who roughly each play (with league, friendlies and various cups) a minimum of 50 games per season.

Within your magical paper booklet you of course get player news, opposing team profiles, various statistics and tables for how the season is progressing, attendance, appearances etc, but being mostly myself I tend to look a bit deeper  and into the fascinating world of advertisements.  I always ignore the ones on TV but in the context of a programme they are fascinating.

The Premiership has lots of adverts for big companies, but go farther back in time and it was common to see local companies adorning the inside pages, naturally globalisation has come and ruined the chance for local businesses (and players) to be associated with their local clubs but take a step down the football pyramid to the lower leagues and you’ll still be living the advert dream.

There are alcohol and insurance sponsors as you might expect but mainly the local businesses get a bigger look in, restaurants, coffee lounges, painter and decorators all adorn the ad pages, it’s these local businesses who fund the player sponsorship even down to their laces, I kid you not.

There always seems more of an intimacy with your club the farther down the leagues you go and this holds true generally.  Clubs used to be the hubs of Saturday entertainment, however with more choice and TV coverage this pulls fans away.  Nevertheless taking a trawl through the programmes of yesteryear gives you a cultural snapshot of the town and club, affluent or not.

So if you ever see a programme pick it up and study it, you’ll maybe learn a little about a place – the more obscure the place the better I find – and grab yourself an insight into the culture of the day.  There is much to be gained in life from looking in all places from all angles.

21 Replies to “Football Programmes”

  1. This is very cool. In my family we follow Italian football (forza Roma!!) but living so far away from Italy we don’t get a chance to see any football programmes. I like the idea of looking back at old adverts as a way of seeing yesteryear. I came across an “old” (1970s) magazine a few months ago and was surprised by how many cigarette ads it had.


    1. Yeah cigarettes used to feature cards with players portraits and information on them, it is a strange one looking back on it with hindsight, of course all the players were serial drinkers who retired and somewhat predictably ran pubs.

      Nice win for AS at the weekend, against Juve no less, shame Zeman was sacked, his cavalier approach was always exciting to watch.


      1. I wonder if in the future we’ll find it odd that alcohol sponsored football, just as we find it odd that cigarette companies did.

        Beautiful win, I agree. Totti scored a fantastic goal – not bad for an old timer!


        1. He just keeps going, I remember watching the matches when he was just starting out as a lad with potential. These days its betting websites and those loan shark type sites that seem to be doing all the sponsorship, football seems a magnet for all things that can ruin peoples lives.


            1. Great and of beautiful, it’s a statistics fans holy grail. I will watch any match, although sadly they don’t show many overseas matches here unless they are relevant to our teams.


  2. Great stuff. My grandad found some similar caches of old football memorabilia in his old jacket the other day. Included was a ticket to watch Wigan Athletic vs York City in the old Fourth Division – how times change!


    1. That’s a few years back! I love to sink into the old match stuff. It’s amazing what you can find, Oldham used to have a newspaper called The Boundary Bulletin which is a fascinating read. I’m feel the collecting obsession start to take over again…


  3. I keep programs for the pro baseball games that I go to – more as a souvenir.
    But – now that you mention this – I may have to check them out a little further!


  4. I inherited a 1924 cup final ticket from my maternal grandfather and sold it for £650.00 on eBay. Ocassionally when I was growing up I would have to walk past the railway line where little Hughie Gallagher ended it all. It was a bleak place. According to my Uncles and my Dad little Hughie was better than Pele. I never saw either of them play, but Hughie never makes the top 10 lists. I will watch games if one of the following is playing : Hughie Gallagher, Chris Waddle, Jinkie Jimmy Smith. I don’t watch many games, I have to say..


    1. With that quality, you don’t have to watch many games unless it’s Barcelona these days. That’s a good price, I have a European cup final somewhere, Ajax vs panathanaikos at Wembley and that only goes for about £12.


  5. It is probably not unlike your obsession with books, which I believe is a very good thing. We have something here in this country called a Passport Guide to National Parks. It is like a grown-up sticker book, where you add a sticker and a stamp each time you visit a National Park, monument, lakeshore, etc. It’s become a little of an obsession for me. Hope you are having a good Wednesday Ste J.


    1. My Wednesday was great, I stayed in bed mostly to try and finish my Umberto Eco book, I got to within one hundred pages of the end so the day was well spent. It’s easy to get obsessed with sticker books, I still yearn to do them occasionally but would look a bit weird going to the local school asking if anyone has any stickers they want to trade.


      1. Yes, you might look a tad bit weird, and just for the record, I’m not doing that either! Have a great weekend Ste J. 😉


    1. I enjoyed dogging this one out as something different, and soon for something to remember will be my first video post hopefully where I shall attmept to not butcher the Queen’s English.


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