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.