Football Programmes Centre

History of Football Programmes
A history of programmes.

The football programme came into being at the same time as the foundation of the Football League in 1888. Originally intended for use as a scorecard, programmes consisted of a single sheet, bearing the date, team names and player positions. Aston Villa, one of the League`s founder members were one of the first clubs to publish a programme with their "Villa News and Record." This was presented in the form of a journal, with a different number and volume for each season and the weeks therein. Programmes developed into a more substantial form prior to World War I, comprising 4 to 8 pages. There have been many eye-catching programme cover designs, often reflecting the age in which they were produced. Immediately prior to World War II, a shortage of paper, due to the war effort led to the production of fewer match programmes. The hardships endured in the immediate post-war period also saw few programmes produced, hence those from these periods tend to be rare.

Over the years, the size of a football programme gradually increased from a pocket-sized booklet to an A4 document, although many modern clubs have reverted to the smaller, more convenient size. Modern match-day programmes, comprising numerous, full colour, glossy pages, bear little resemblance to the simple one-page affairs of the 19th century. However, they have kept the basic feature of providing details of participating players to aid in identification by spectators. In addition, modern programmes are an outlet for the authoritative opinions of the club, often by way of a statement from the club manager in each issue.

Desirable Football Programmes
The programme for England`s 1966 World Cup triumph over West Germany is much sought after, although securing the genuine article is tricky, as there were 3 subsequent reprints. The original has a distinctive "Chelsea" blue background on its front cover, with a sight bluish tinge to the "England v West Germany" lettering. The back cover features a "Cadet" cigarette packet, with scarlet (no orange tinge) stripes. The weight of the programme is also a giveaway, with the original being significantly heavier than the reprints. Other features of the original programme are staples exactly �" in length and the use of a different type of paper for the team line-ups, whereas the reprints use the same type of paper throughout.

The FA Cup Final programme has proved continually popular with collectors. The programme for the inaugural Wembley Final between Bolton and West Ham United in 1923 is rare and typically costs in the region of �1,000. Cardiff City`s 1-0 triumph over Arsenal in 1927, was the first and, to date, only time the Cup has been won by a non-English club. This greatly desired programme can fetch as much as �2,500.

Particularly poignant is the programme for the February 1958 FA Cup tie between Manchester United and Sheffield Wednesday. For United`s first game following the Munich Air Disaster, the team line-up was left blank as a mark of respect.

Viewers of Premiership live football with a penchant for collecting programmes should remain aware of any particularly notable matches and pick up the match programmes at bargain prices before they acquire "iconic" status.