BCAFC programme feature: vs Barrow 30th January, 2021

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 1969/70 – the last visit of Barrow AFC to Valley Parade.

A welcome back to Valley Parade

Barrow AFC first played at Valley Parade in January, 1906 in an FA Cup tie. Bradford City were then members of the second division having been elected to the Football League less than three years before whilst Barrow was a non-league side, members of the Lancashire Combination. City defeated the visitors by 3-2 and progressed to the second round proper of the FA Cup for the first time in the club’s history. It was reported that it was a narrow victory with ‘wretched play’ by the home side and according to the Leeds & Yorkshire Mercurymiskicking, hesitation and bad shooting spoiled one opportunity after another in a way which really merited defeat.’ The Barrow players on the other hand were credited with a plucky display.

The two sides did not meet again until the 1927/28 season following City’s relegation to Division Three (North) of which Barrow had been founder members in 1921. Prior to the outbreak of war there were eight games between them in two separate spells of which City won five and lost only once that included a record 8-0 win in March, 1929.

With the resumption of football competition in 1946 they were again fellow members of the northern third division. Prior to the formation of the national four division structure in 1958 there were 24 meetings between them in which honours were even with nine wins apiece.  

In 1958 City became founder members of the new Division Three whilst Barrow joined Division Four. With City’s relegation in 1961 the rivalry was renewed and there were twelve games between the sides up to and including Barrow’s only promotion season in the Football League in 1966/67. Of those games, City won five – which included a double against Barrow in that last season – and lost four.

Following City’s promotion in 1969 the two were fellow members of Division Three in 1969/70. At the end of that season Barrow AFC was relegated and in 1972 lost its membership of the Football League with Hereford United being elected in the club’s place.  Prior to this season therefore our last meeting had been in April, 1970 and the programme of that game is reproduced for today’s issue. For the record, the game was drawn 3-3 in front of 4,451 whilst the fixture at Holker Street the previous December had resulted in an away win with a crowd of just 2,836.

The cover of the programme in 1970 featured the City Gent, a caricature of the then chairman, Stafford Heginbotham. The 1966 World Cup tournament had a major impact on the emergence of new identities among English clubs and the World Cup Willy character inspired the City Gent at Valley Parade. It was introduced to Valley Parade in November, 1965 (the month after Stafford Heginbotham and George Ide had taken control of the club) where it was used on posters advertising forthcoming games. The character appeared on the cover of the club programme from March, 1966 and continued to be used until 1974.

At the time of its introduction, Heginbotham was only 33 years old which explains the fresh face of the City Gent. Beyond any doubt the City Gent character proved popular with supporters and it was the unanimous choice of title for the supporters’ magazine when we launched it in 1984. The City Gent was a common choice for a tattoo design among a good number of fans but there was an alarming inconsistency as to how the character was depicted.

The City Gent character symbolised modernisation and change at Valley Parade and the portrayal of a character with bowler hat and briefcase also implied that Bradford meant business (a slogan later adopted by the local chamber of commerce in conjunction with Bradford Corporation, to promote the city). It is quite possible that Stafford Heginbotham saw himself as the personification of a modern entrepreneur and hence the City Gent was something a narcissistic expression. Even Geoffrey Richmond did nothing similar.

The menus above provide links to features written by myself in the BCAFC programme during previous seasons.

Link here to galleries of historic BCAFC programmes on this blog

Link to feature about the historic development of the BCAFC programme since 1909 published on VINCIT.

BCAFC programme feature: vs Port Vale 29th December, 2020

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 1998/1999 when we were promoted to the Premier League.

The fixture with Port Vale at Valley Parade was particularly memorable that season and the game on 29th September, 1998 finished with a 4-0 home victory with a brace of goals scored by Lee Mills against his old club. At this day 22 years ago we were positioned fourth in the second division behind Sunderland, Ipswich and Birmingham whilst Port Vale were fourth from bottom. At that time Morecambe were members of the Conference Premier having been promoted from the Northern Premier League in 1995 (and gained EFL status in 2007).

In 1998 the standard of the Bradford City publication improved considerably having previously been a very basic affair. Between 1996-2002 it assumed the title Claret & Amber, then Bantams World between 2002-11, The Bantams in 2011/12 before resorting to The Parader from the start of the 2012/13 season which continues to this day.

The title of The Parader is not new having originally been used between 1932 and 1940, in 1978/79 and then for part of the 1981/82 season. It had also been applied as the title of supporter yearbooks in 1951 and 1952. The title of The Parader has thus been the most used whereas The Bantams has been the least, for the second half of 1981/82, 1982/83 and in 2011/12 only. To date these are the only titles that have been adopted for the match day publication and as far supporters are concerned it has always been known simply as ‘the programme’.

A collection of programmes from the last twenty odd years attests to the variety of opposition at Valley Parade, a reflection of City’s movement through the divisions. What is also notable about programmes of the modern era is the standard of the publication compared to prior periods. In the last twenty years it became more appropriate to describe it as a ‘match day magazine’ than a traditional programme per se and this has been a phenomenon at most clubs, Port Vale and Morecambe included.

By contrast programmes from earlier seasons seem distinctly primitive. Nevertheless, what older programmes lacked in layout, colour and design they were arguably more distinctive and far more unique between different clubs. Nowadays, match day magazines are far more similar from one club to the next although what distinguished the Port Vale publication quite recently was the adoption of old cover designs and the use of historic imagery – much the same as the initiative at Valley Parade this season.

Collectors will also highlight the fact that the match day publications have become much bigger in size and content as well as bulkier through the use of thicker, better quality paper. Whereas previously you could store the issues from around four complete seasons in a single shoebox, now you’d be lucky to fit the first half of a season in the same space.

A combination of reasons has caused the decline in the number of programmes being sold at football grounds despite the improvements in quality. Of course, the biggest factor behind the trend has been the impact of the internet and availability of online news and media content.

Around twenty years ago football memorabilia (including programmes) became highly collectable as investments in their own right. Whereas you could previously accumulate a collection of old programmes at relatively low cost, the prices became prohibitive and I am sure that this was a factor in the decline in the popularity of programme collecting. Despite a subsequent drop in values, the interest among younger fans in collecting is now much diminished. Not only are fewer fans buying current issues, so too there is now less interest in collecting historic programmes.

The menus above provide links to features written by myself in the BCAFC programme during previous seasons.

Link here to galleries of historic BCAFC programmes on this blog

Link to feature about the historic development of the BCAFC programme since 1909 published on VINCIT.

Lockdown photos of Saltaire and Salt’s Mill

During lockdown I have been tweeting my photos of Saltaire which is within walking distance of home and hence a regular focus of my photography. In response to requests from a number of people I have selected my favourite shots of those taken recently of the mill and the village. I use a variety of lenses and occasionally revert to old fashioned film (which is as refreshing as casting aside digital music for the sound of vinyl albums).

Also on this blog… my photos of Salt’s Mill from 1986

The VISIT BRADFORD and Saltaire Village websites provide background information about Saltaire and its attractions.

Thanks for visiting my blog, the content of which is mainly – although not exclusively – about Bradford City AFC. I am interested in local history and in particular industrial, sporting and railway history but you will also find content about my favourite band, The Stranglers. The menu above gives access to content published in the BCAFC matchday programme, features on local history as well as my reviews of sundry sports books that have local coverage.

I have unearthed other old photographs that I took of Bradford as well as my travels in the Soviet bloc around this time and will upload those also on an ad hoc basis. For something else completely different, you can find my photographs of the DPRK from this link.

Refer to the menu above for links to other blog features.

I tweet photos from @jpdewhirst many of which feature Saltaire. Once lockdown is over I am looking forward to taking photographs further afield. For now I can’t exactly complain at what is on my doorstep and from that perspective at least it is not onerous to comply with the lockdown requirement of remaining local. (I suspect that many people have rediscovered the fact that the Bradford district has much to offer a photography enthusiast, as highlighted on the VISIT BRADFORD website.)

*** Details of my new book (2020) in collaboration with George Chilvers: Wool City Rivals – A History in Colour which tells the story of the rivalry of Bradford City and Bradford Park Avenue in the Football League, 1908-70. Copies of my other books in the bantamspast History Revisited series can be purchased in the Salts Mill bookshop when it reopens after lockdown.

New Mill by the River Aire
New Mill by night, 27th January 2021

The end of textile manufacture at Salts Mill, 1986

In 1985 I bought my first SLR camera, an Olympus OM40 and quite recently I came across prints of my early photography. On this blog are photos from when I worked in Salts Mill helping to count the stock pending sale to Drummonds in around April, 1986 which preceded the closure of the mill.

Whilst most were of the spinning sheds there are also shots of the area that currently accommodates the Hockney Gallery, diner and retail units. It is a long way removed from the environment of The Diner at Salts, a favourite haunt of my family for Sunday breakfast or lunch. [Link here to the Salts Mill website]

Back in 1986 I got into trouble for wandering off taking the pics but I am glad that I did. It was a poignant experience to witness the closure of the business and the end of a chapter in the history of the mill. It was also a massive privilege to be able to see the final workings of textile manufacture in Saltaire. The financial burden of Illingworth Morris (who owned Salts of Saltaire) was the upkeep of the mill and for all we knew, it was destined either to be demolished or left to rot. Indeed, maintenance of the physical infrastructure of Salts Mill had already been cut back to minimal levels of upkeep. No-one could imagine that someone like Jonathan Silver might revitalise it in a new creation.

The plant and machinery was antiquated and much would have been at least fifty years old, probably more. By then the most recent capital investment and renewal would have been at least ten years’ old. Tellingly, the bulk of that constituted Italian or German machinery whereas it was the older equipment that carried the names of textile engineering companies in Bradford, Keighley or Halifax.

(*I have another selection of images from around the same time of a spinning mill in East Ardsley which will be uploaded shortly and these show the antiquated machinery.)

Salts Mill in June, 2020
The front of Salts Mill from Victoria Road, Saltaire in June, 2020
Salts Mill 1986

I am sharing these old images as a record of local history. Whilst I have no objection to them being circulated on social media I would ask that I am credited and a link provided to this site. More of my photos from the era will be uploaded to Twitter (@jpdewhirst) and to this blog also. Anyone wanting to see a far better standard of Bradford mill photographs, including of the final days of Salts Mill as a textile factory, should look for the work of Ian Beesley and in particular his compilation Through the Mill.

My apologies for the condition of my photos. Although I have been able to scan from the original negatives, some are discoloured by streaks of light shading which I assume arose from the roll of film being prematurely exposed to light.

Being sentimental about the mills…

It is tempting to glamorise the old mills and mourn their loss. Indeed, the demise of the textile industry wiped out much of the character and tradition of places such as Bradford, Huddersfield or Halifax like other northern towns across the Pennines. Hence the sentimentality for the old mills like that for old football grounds or railway stations of a long gone era. These photographs serve as a reminder of how decrepit they had become and, as with football grounds such as Valley Parade, they were probably also unsafe.

It is now difficult to imagine that in a past life the mills were loud and often inhospitable places. Many of the old mills that survive offer such sanitised environments – such as Salts Mill – with urban living, chic dining and boutique shopping. Others have similarly been converted to new trendy offices. Yet the working conditions for textile manufacturing were altogether different and frankly unpleasant with the noise, airborne particles and humidity to contend with. In earlier decades those conditions would have been even worse.

The expansion of third world competition from the 1960s meant that textiles became a race to the bottom with low wage rates and short-termism. By the 1970s many businesses were clinging on to survive another year and few had a long term vision. The industry was much contracted by the end of the 1980s but economies of scale proved elusive and by the end of the 1990s it had virtually disappeared. Twenty years ago I worked in one of the last remaining textile firms in Bradford and saw for myself the final demise of the industry as major UK retailers opted for foreign production to keep prices low. All that remains now is the physical footprint of how they shaped northern towns and cities such as Bradford.

It is frightening to think what could have become of Salt’s Mill had not Jonathan Silver rescued the estate and replicated what had been achieved at Dean Clough, Halifax. In 1986 for example Salt’s Mill had a very uncertain future with no guarantee of survival. Indeed, by the mid 1980s old mills were being demolished at an accelerating rate and others were disappearing through arson and falling apart through disrepair or abandonment. What was lacking was the imagination to find alternative uses for the structures – once demolished it was too late and it is difficult to argue that the sheds or brownfield sites that stand in place of old mills have necessarily enhanced the urban environment.

I believe that the above photograph was taken where The Salts Diner is now situated.

The final images are of Saltaire in 1987 by which time the mill was standing empty prior to its re-incarnation…

Thanks for visiting my blog, the content of which is mainly – although not exclusively – about Bradford City AFC. I am interested in local history and in particular industrial, sporting and railway history but you will also find content about my favourite band, The Stranglers. The above menu at the top of the page gives access to content published in the BCAFC matchday programme, features on local history as well as my reviews of sundry sports books that have local coverage.

I have unearthed other old photographs that I took of Bradford as well as my travels in the Soviet bloc around this time and will upload those also on an ad hoc basis. For something else completely different, you can find my photographs of the DPRK from this link.

Refer to the menu above for links to other blog features.

I tweet photos from @jpdewhirst many of which feature Saltaire. During lockdown I am remaining within walking distance of home in Moorhead and hence my photography will be of local sites. Link here to my lockdown photos of Saltaire village and Salt’s Mill.

*** Details of my new book (2020) in collaboration with George Chilvers: Wool City Rivals – A History in Colour which tells the story of the rivalry of Bradford City and Bradford Park Avenue in the Football League, 1908-70. Copies of my other books in the bantamspast History Revisited series can be purchased in the Salts Mill bookshop when it reopens after lockdown.

Saltaire station in 2020.

Football in a police state: 1FC Lokomotive Leipzig, 1987

My photos of Leipzig from 1987…

The 1980s was a time of football violence in Britain but I never imagined that I would witness anything as bad in the DDR, the police state behind the Iron Curtain.

During lockdown, whilst clearing out old possessions, I came across my photographs taken at the Bruno Plache Stadium in Leipzig for the fixture between 1FC Lok and their Saxony rivals Wismut Aue in May, 1987. There were no restrictions on my photography but I was deliberately discrete in my efforts to document the match day experience. Nevertheless it did not go unnoticed that a westerner was taking photos and no doubt someone reported it.

Most people came to the ground in a shuttle service of rickety fans. On the return trip the tram that I was on was rocked from side to side by Wismut fans. I feared that it might be knocked off its rails but thankfully we got back to the centre of Leipzig safely.
Supporters outside the ground swapping programmes and artefacts. There was particular interest in souvenirs from Leipzig’s games in European cup competitions. Jeans were ubiquitous, the fashion for football fans east and west but women were few and far between.
Entrance to the Bruno Plache Stadion, named after a pre-war Communist politician.
Despite a visible Volkspolizei presence they were generally ineffective and didn’t stand in the way of terrace fighting. In fact it seemed as though crowd trouble was tolerated to a degree, maybe even considered a means for young men to let off steam. Whatever the policy, if compared to the West Midlands Constabulary in England at the time, the Volkspolizei treated fans with kid gloves. It was not what I expected in a state known for its internal security apparatus.
Volkspolizei positioned to prevent a pitch invasion.
Friends in Sport! Contribute to the maintenance of security and order!
The atmosphere was generally relaxed albeit punctuated by occasional outbursts of violence.
There could not have been more than eight thousand fans in attendance, a poor attendance for the leading side of the DDR’s second city. Besides, Leipzig had a decent team and earlier in the month had been beaten by Ajax in the final of the European Cup Winners Cup in Athens.

By contrast high profile fixtures attracted big crowds and European games for example were played at the Zentralstadion in Leipzig which had a capacity of one hundred thousand (see photos at bottom). In 1987 I would have estimated the capacity of the BPS to be no more than twenty thousand.
The main stand was wooden, dating back to the opening of the ground in 1922 and in its current guise since 1932.
The design of the main stand was quite charming and distinctive. However, twenty-four months after the Valley Parade fire I couldn’t help but question the safety of the stand and the potential for disaster. Smoking was at least forbidden.

Feature on the Bruno Plache Stadion on Wikipedia

In February, 2020 on this blog I published my recollections of East German football in the years immediately preceding the collapse of the wall in 1989 and in particular about 1FC Lokomotive Leipzig.

Elsewhere on this blog you will find content about the history of Bradford City, my features in the BCAFC match day magazine as well as book reviews. Refer to the drop down menu at the top.

Details here of my latest book, Wool City Rivals a collaboration with George Chilvers (Volume 7 in the bantamspast History Revisited series).

I have rediscovered old photos from my travels behind the Iron Curtain and time in the GDR in the 1980s and I am tweeting them on an ad hoc basis.

Tweets: @jpdewhirst

The Zentralstadion opened in 1956 with its terrace banks developed from war rubble. This was extensively renovated and re-opened in 2004, a venue for the 2006 World Cup. Since 2009 the new stadium has been the home of Leipzig Red Bull. These photos were taken in 1987 by which stage it was becoming rundown. The floodlights were as impressive as the terraces with their wooden benches.
Leipzig fans dressed in ubiquitous denim and displaying allegiance for SV Hamburg. The terrace fashion and the mullet haircuts were little different to those across the intra-German border although the quality of footwear and denim brands would have betrayed the Ossis.

Wool City Rivals: A History in Colour

I am delighted to say that our new book which I have co-produced with George Chilvers has now been published, the seventh volume in the bantamspast History Revisited series.

Full details of the book and of how to order from the bantamspast website.

Books are dispatched by Royal Mail and during December we have become aware of delays arising both from Christmas post as well as lockdown post backlogs. For that reason we advise Xmas orders to be made  asap. For BD postcode destinations, orders received up to and including Tuesday 22nd December will be guaranteed delivery by 24th December. 

Tweets: @bantamspast @Garswoodlatic and @jpdewhirst

BCAFC programme feature: vs Cambridge United 19th December, 2020

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 1972/1973 when we first played against Cambridge United.

Cambridge United were elected to the Football League in 1970 at the expense of Bradford Park Avenue who had been forced to make a fourth consecutive application for re-election having finished bottom of Division Four (for the third time in a row). Four years later, Bradford PA went into liquidation and in 1980 its ground at Park Avenue was finally demolished.

There had been voices within the Football League arguing that there should be only one senior club in Bradford and that it made no sense for the city to have two struggling sides. The Chester Report of 1968 that made recommendations for the future of English professional football came to the same conclusion and even within Bradford, the leadership of the Corporation had tried to encourage a merger of City and Avenue.

Merger talks stumbled on the indebtedness of the two and the argument that amalgamation of struggling clubs did not guarantee that a new combination would be successful. Indeed, there was a recognition that the missing ingredient was money to provide much needed funding.

In the first half of the 1960s it seemed that Avenue might be the club that would survive and that City would disappear. However, under the chairmanship of Stafford Heginbotham it was City that staged a revival and the turnaround at Valley Parade benefited from people abandoning Bradford Park Avenue. A new chairman at Park Avenue, Herbert Metcalfe did little to persuade the doubters that recovery was possible and it came as little surprise when the club was voted out of the Football League.  

The programme cover at Valley Parade between 1966-74 featured the City Gent character which was actually based on Heginbotham himself and in 1972 it was printed in the all-claret strip that was worn that season. At Park Avenue the club had its ‘Avenue’Arry’ character but it was never used to the same extent as at City.

Meanwhile at Valley Parade, Bradford City were promoted to Division Three in 1968/69 and remained at that level until relegation in 1972. Hence our final League derby with Avenue was in 1968 and we didn’t host Cambridge United until March, 1973.

Bradford Park Avenue are now virtually forgotten. Despite supporters having reformed the club in 1988 it has made little progress in the non-League pyramid and attracts relatively low crowds with very few younger supporters to ensure future continuity.

Nowadays it is common for people to abbreviate Bradford City to ‘Bradford’ when referring to the club but historically, it was Bradford (Park Avenue) who were known as Bradford and there was acute sensitivity that it should be anything else but. The brackets in the club’s official title was the clue – the suffix of Park Avenue being adopted to avoid any possibility of confusion with Bradford City.

Traditionally Park Avenue had been the home of the senior club in Bradford. From 1880 until 1903 when Manningham FC at Valley Parade converted to soccer there had always been an intense rivalry with Bradford FC of Park Avenue.

Of course, Cambridge United is not the only club in that city and in the 1960s it was their rivals, Cambridge City who were considered the stronger of the two. I am sure that abbreviation of club names in Cambridge is equally a sensitive matter!  

The menus above provide links to features written by myself in the BCAFC programme during previous seasons.

Link here to galleries of historic BCAFC programmes on this blog

Link to feature about the historic development of the BCAFC programme since 1909 published on VINCIT.

In Celebration of a traditional Bradford football Christmas

Boring Stan, the Park Avenue fan by Tony Hannan

Reproduced from Bradford Park Avenue Fightback! pub. by The City Gent, 1989

Tony Hannan is nowadays better known as a successful author and publisher as well as editor of the monthly RL magazine, Forty20. Thirty odd years ago he had established a local reputation as a cartoonist with his work published in the Telegraph & Argus. In 1988 as editor of The City Gent I encouraged Tony to produce Bernard of the Bantams, a comic with a number of cartoon strips about Bratfud football which ran to about half a dozen issues between 1988-90. Boring Stan the Avenue fan is possibly the best remembered of the characters and the cartoon above was produced for a special one-off publication produced by The City Gent to help encourage interest in the revival of Bradford Park Avenue.

Tony Hannan tweets as @AJHannanEsq

The last major development at Valley Parade

The final stage in the development of Valley Parade began in 1999. After the opening of the Midland Road stand on Boxing Day, 1996 Geoffrey Richmond separately announced plans to expand the ground by adding a second tier to the Kop and the main stand. It seemed incredible that the club should be contemplating such a venture. Sadly it came with a huge cost.

The Kop scheme was first publicly discussed by Richmond in April, 1998 with planning permission granted the following November after negotiations had been concluded with residents of Rock Terrace. Plans for redevelopment of the main stand and the North-West Corner were announced in August, 1999 although planning permission was not granted until March, 2000.

A further planning application was made in February, 2000 for the main stand to run the full length of South Parade (including the building of new changing rooms) but this was eventually withdrawn by BCAFC. The implications of this expansion for road closures and traffic movement was considered politically unacceptable and with existing opposition within Bradford MD Council, Richmond backed down. Interestingly however, financial constraints were not declared to be a factor in his decision.

The Kop opened in August, 1999 and then the North West Corner on Boxing Day, 2000. The main stand was finally completed the following year by which time Bradford City had been relegated from the Premier League.

Valley Parade had been redeveloped with debt finance and the eventual insolvency of the club resulted in the loss of freehold ownership. BCAFC was left with a stadium that has since rarely been filled, the loss of its principal asset and a huge rental liability and that has been the backdrop of the past twenty years. The following photographs record the final redevelopment of the ground.

kop 2000

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Scan_20200301 (5)

Scan_20200301 (7)

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main stand 2000

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Scan_20200301 (15)

Scan_20200301 (16)

Scan_20200301 (22)

Scan_20200301 (23)

Scan_20200301 (42)

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My thanks to Kieran Wilkinson for additional information.

Other archive images of Valley Parade from these links:

The development of Valley Parade, 1886-1908 – includes a history of the early development of the ground.

Valley Parade in the 1960s

Valley Parade photos from the 1970s

Valley Parade photos from the 1980s

Photos of the rebuilding of Valley Parade in 1986 – Part 1

Photos of the rebuilding of Valley Parade in 1986 – Part 2

Valley Parade photos from the 1990s

Valley Parade of today (photos taken by myself at the Stephen Darby Testimonial July, 2019)

More photos of today’s Valley Parade (photos taken by myself at the Salford City fixture in December, 2019)

Other galleries to follow with links updated from here.

The menu above provides links to other features on this website including my features in the BCAFC programme, book reviews and content about the history of Bradford City AFC.

Tweets:@jpdewhirst

BCAFC programme feature: vs Carlisle United 5th December, 2020

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 1977/1978 when we were rivals with Carlisle United in Division Three.

Following promotion to Division Three in 1977 the club decided that it needed to modernise the design of its programme and invited supporters to contribute suggestions. What was introduced represented a radical new look with a major shift in layout based around the inclusion of recent action photographs. By today’s standards the innovations were primitive but nonetheless they represented a major overhaul for the Bradford City programme.

As a matter of necessity, during the second half of the 1970s the club became more adventurous in seeking new money-making opportunities which culminated in the launch of its successful lottery operation in 1978. The programme was identified as a source of advertising revenue and it was this that encouraged the redesign to include visually impactful adverts.

The 1970s was an age of inflation and this was reflected in the upward movement of the price of the programme. From a cover price of 5p (equivalent to one shilling) in 1973 it had been increased to 10p in 1974 and then 12p in 1975. In 1977 the price went up by 25% from 12p to the princely sum of 15p. Those price rises continued, to 20p in 1978 and then 30p in 1980.

The reader could be forgiven that despite cosmetic changes in design, the programme represented poor value for money. In 1977 the size of the programme remained sixteen pages but the editorial content was diminished. In 1978, probably to justify another price increase the size of the programme was further increased to twenty pages but by 1979 it was reduced back to sixteen pages whilst the price remained 20p.

The standard of the Bradford City programme in this era compared unfavourably with those of other lower division clubs and limited effort was committed to its production. Although price increases generated more income, by 1981/82 this amounted to only £9,611, equivalent to less than 2.5% of the club’s total revenue. Nevertheless, the readership remained relatively high, averaging between one in three and one in four spectators at Valley Parade and between 1975/76 and 1981/82 annual average match day sales of the programme fluctuated in the range 1,100 – 1,700.

The menus above provide links to features written by myself in the BCAFC programme during previous seasons.

Link here to galleries of historic BCAFC programmes on this blog

Link to feature about the historic development of the BCAFC programme since 1909 published on VINCIT.