Programmes of old by John Dewhirst
Football programmes have traditionally been a staple of the match day experience, historically a collectable for many supporters. At Valley Parade, programmes have been produced for first-team fixtures since 1909 and the sale of single sheet team cards dates back even further. This season the match day magazine is being designed to celebrate the rich heritage of old programmes from earlier years and in this column I shall be examining the history of official publications at Valley Parade and their content.
Even with the emergence of match day magazines at football grounds and the higher page count, the basic content of programmes still revolves around the same themes – statements of club health by club officials; detail of fixtures and results; some background to the opposition club; team line-ups; and adverts to offset the cost of production and generate a profit. One feature that no longer exists, but which was previously a prime reason for a spectator to buy a programme, was the half-time scores section.
Nowadays people have internet access to keep track of results around the country (even if bandwidth gets more challenging at 3:45pm) but the programme used to be relied upon to discover half-time scores, a feature that was included in the programme until the 1977/78 season. By that stage transistor radios were readily available and people could also rely upon the tannoy to find out what was happening at other grounds. From 1988 a new electronic scoreboard on the top of the Bradford End stand kept spectators up to date.
Historically however the programme was the means by which a supporter could comprehend the code to discover half-time progress elsewhere. The scores were displayed on a scoreboard at the top of the Kop with two showings, ‘red flag’ and ‘white flag’ respectively. In 1968 a tea bar was built into the scoreboard which was expanded for a single showing only and used for that purpose until 1978.
The menus above provide links to features written by myself in the BCAFC programme during previous seasons.