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 1995/96 when Bolton Wanderers were the visitors to Valley Parade for a Third Round FA Cup tie.
The cover of the programme in 1995/96 was one of the most distinctive to have been used in the history of the Bradford City publication, incorporating half a dozen archive images from preceding decades. It was nonetheless a throwback to the traditional way of producing a programme with the cover remaining unchanged – other than the name of the opposition – for each issue. The motive for this was once again that of economy and the bright cover disguised the fact that the content was minimal.
In February, 1994 the Bradford printer Wheeldens had been displaced by the in-coming chairman, Geoffrey Richmond. From the outset his motive was to minimise the cost of the programme whilst also increasing its financial contribution and there was a high advert content in the 36 pages of that produced in 1995/96. Whilst the new heritage cover represented an improvement, by contemporary standards the match programmes between 1994 and 1996 were still mediocre. It was not until 1996/97 that Richmond made a concerted effort to improve the publication and the era of ‘match day magazines’ at Valley Parade began.
There have only been 50 first team competitive fixtures between Bradford City and Bolton Wanderers with 15 games having been won by City and 18 by Bolton. Of those there have been two FA Cup ties, both won by Bolton (including a 3-0 win in January, 1996) and four League Cup games of which two resulted in a City victory and one in favour of Bolton. In the Football League Trophy in 2019 there was a draw. It means that in League competition, Bolton have the edge with 15 wins compared to 13 for the Bantams whilst there have been 15 draws.
Despite defeat by Bolton in the FA Cup in 1995/96 we still made it to Wembley that year and history was made on 26th May, 1996 when Bradford City played at the stadium for the first time in the club’s history, winning the League Division Two (third tier) Play-Off Final.
Our last League victory over Bolton was in April, 1993 when we won 2-1 at Valley Parade. Possibly our most memorable victory in modern times was on 6th May, 1985 when our 2-0 win at Burnden Park secured the Division Three Championship.
Meetings between the sides were relatively commonplace before the last war but subsequent to the 1934/35 season when Bolton won promotion to Division One, we did not meet again in League competition until 1971/72. The cover of the programme from the game between the sides in February, 1935 (a 1-1 draw) is reproduced on this page, an eight page issue that was typical of the era and indeed, until the 1960s.
Even with the emergence of ‘match day magazines’ the basic content of a programme has continued to revolve around the same ingredients: statements of club health by the team manager and/or club chairman; detail of fixtures and results; supporters’ club announcements; a brief background to the opposition club including pen pictures of its players; team line-ups; and advertisements. One feature that no longer exists is a section to record half-time scores. Both the 1996 issue and that from 1935 provide a unique insight into social and economic trends, an invaluable record for future historians.
The menus above provide links to features written by myself in the BCAFC programme during previous seasons.