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 celebrates the rich heritage of old programmes from earlier years and today’s issue is based on the design from 1921/22 – the season that the club was relegated from Division One.
Old football programmes provide a unique insight into social and economic trends. For instance, club statements about the need to curb ‘youthful exuberance’ and anti-social behaviour were not exclusive to the 1970s as the following extracts show.
The programme for the game with Doncaster on 3rd October, 1962 included the comment: ‘Whatever one may think of a decision by a referee or action by a player, the answer is not to throw objects one may lay his or her hand on, and so bring the game into disrepute. Having seen someone throw an object, others are apt to follow suit and the damage is done.’ The following month, the programme for the Rochdale game on 17th November sought an end to pitch invasions and the ‘Supporters Notes’ by columnist ‘Ubique’ conveyed his irritation at the throwing of toilet rolls which had occurred at the Oldham away fixture a fortnight previously. By November, 1963 the programme notes were imploring youngsters not to let off fireworks in the ground.
The programme from the Everton fixture on 6th November, 1920 referred to Foul Language: ‘Several complaints have been made with regard to objectionable language at Valley Parade, and the directors of the club desire to warn offenders that they are liable to expulsion from the ground. There are more ladies at football matches nowadays, especially on the grandstands, than ever there has been in the past, and we are all delighted to see them, but it is not pleasant for them to have to listen to foul language. This cannot be tolerated and the directors would be glad to receive reports as to the identity of offenders in order that steps may be taken to impress upon them the need for keeping to Parliamentary language when letting off steam.’
On 26th February, 1977 the programme for the game with Torquay United included a full page notice from The Football Association advising supporters about the risk of ground closure as a consequence of misconduct. Similar warning notices were displayed around Valley Parade for the next month and followed an attack by a spectator on a Colchester player during the game between the promotion rivals in December, 1976. There were further incidents in the 1978/79 season when a spectator and a player were injured by stone throwing with a repeat of the FA notices in August, 1979. (It should be explained to younger readers that stones were readily available on the Spion Kop due to the decayed concrete terracing. Hence if you were so inclined you were not obliged to bring such ammunition into the ground.)
The menus above provide links to features written by myself in the BCAFC programme during previous seasons.