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 1962/63 when played Exeter City in Division Four.
Exeter City and Bradford City did not meet until the 1961/62 season when we were rivals in Division Four. Previously Exeter had been members of Division Three (South) and the club had been a founder member of the new national Division Four in 1958. City by contrast had finished in the top half of Division Three (North) in 1957/58 and thus became founder members of Division Three but were relegated after three seasons.
The 1961/62 season is remembered for the Bantams having narrowly missed promotion to Division Four, finishing fifth after a remarkable recovery at the beginning of February, winning 15 of the remaining 19 games and losing only twice. During the course of that sequence City defeated Exeter at Valley Parade in April, 1962 by 5-1.
To describe the programme of 1961/62 as basic would be something of an understatement. Comprising just eight pages it was distinguished principally by its colourful cover which had remained unchanged for the preceding four years. As a consequence, the cover design did not reflect the change in playing strip in that period with the team having forsaken a claret shirt (with amber facings) for an amber shirt with claret pinstripes.
The programme had just three pages of reading – a formal club comment of no more than 300 words, a page of supporters’ club gossip of similar size and then a page with brief biographies of the opposition team. A list of fixtures and results for the first team as well as the reserves, team line-ups and a section to record the half time scores comprised the rest with adverts on each page.
The same programme design and cover was retained for the 1962/63 season. Just as the year before, City had a poor start to the season and when Exeter came to Valley Parade on 1st December, 1962 the two sides were both near the foot of the table and the game was something of a four-pointer. Exeter’s 3-2 victory that day (watched by only 3,885) allowed them to draw equal on points with City who dropped to 21st position. Unfortunately, the season ended with City second to bottom of Division Four and forced to apply for re-election.
On the Saturday preceding the Exeter game City in December, 1962 had triumphed 3-2 over Gateshead in the FA Cup. Not surprisingly, the club commentary in the Exeter programme was dominated by talk of the cup draw and the prospect of playing Newcastle United (managed by former City player, Joe Harvey) in the Third Round, a welcome distraction from the struggle at the bottom of the league table.
The Newcastle tie was scheduled to be played at Valley Parade on 5th January, 1963 but in fact never took place until 7th March when City were unceremoniously defeated 1-6. In fact, the game with the Magpies was the first for the Bantams in more than ten weeks. Postponed originally due to the weather and an exceptional cold spell, the tie was further delayed because the city was placed in lockdown to deal with an outbreak of smallpox. Competitive fixtures at Valley Parade, Park Avenue and Odsal were cancelled as a precaution which meant that when the lockdown was lifted there was fixture congestion for Bradford sides. Unlike 2019/20 however no league fixtures were cancelled such as that which had been scheduled to be played at Exeter at the end of March, 2020.
The menus above provide links to features written by myself in the BCAFC programme during previous seasons.