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 1999/2000 – our first season in the Premier League.
The promotion of Harrogate Town to the EFL is an incredible achievement and I confess that never in my wildest dreams did I believe that one day the two clubs would be competing at the same level in the senior competition of English football. It is sobering to consider that twenty years ago our clubs were six levels apart. The launch of the football pyramid and introduction of automatic promotion to the EFL in 1986/87 has brought with it considerable turnover in the membership of the lower divisions of the EFL and there has been considerable variety with the emergence of new sides.
Since our relegation to the lower divisions in 2004 we have had a fair number of new fixtures. A good proportion of those clubs have been southern based and so another Yorkshire side is most welcome. Harrogate Town become the 15th club from the three Ridings of the county to have competed in the League. Listed in order of when they first joined the League are those Yorkshire clubs: Sheffield United, 1892; Sheffield Wednesday, 1892; Barnsley, 1898; Middlesbrough, 1899; Doncaster Rovers, 1901; Bradford City, 1903; Hull City, 1905; Leeds City / United, 1905; Bradford (Park Avenue), 1908; Huddersfield Town, 1910; Halifax Town, 1921; Rotherham United, 1925; York City, 1929; Scarborough, 1987 & Harrogate Town, 2000.
The old Football League gradually expanded by adding a third division through incorporating former members of the Southern League in 1920, creating a northern section to the third tier in 1921 and then expanding membership to the regionalised third tier in 1950. Clubs finishing at the bottom of the league were required to apply for re-election although an ‘old pals’ act’ operated through much of the 1950s and 1960s to protect traditional league clubs from demotion. It was only in the 1970s that we began to see changes with the unsuccessful re-election of Bradford (Park Avenue) (1970), Barrow (1972), Workington (1977) and Southport (1978) – sides who have been recent opponents of Harrogate Town.
Today’s programme is notable – and for some, collectable – as the first to feature a competitive fixture between our clubs, notwithstanding that there have been countless friendlies played at Wetherby Road. Featured on this page are other encounters with sides now firmly established as seniors from their first season outside of non-League football.
The menus above provide links to features written by myself in the BCAFC programme during previous seasons.