Recalling lost times and losing time at the same time

17 12 2011

If you’re like me you will not only enjoy reading old programmes, you will love reading old programmes. You will love reading old programmes so much that you won’t care if you lose hours doing it, you will think that you have spent your time wisely. You will have been amusing yourself AND studying social history because programmes are chock- full of interesting nuggets old so they provide a great flavour of the time they were printed.

If you have yet to make reading old programmes part of your lifestyle don’t worry, you can start at any time as the only thing you need is a load of old programmes.

There are many methods of finding old programmes, here are three of the simplest; 1. Buy them from shady looking blokes at a car boot sale. 2. Buy bargain bundles from shady looking blokes loitering outside Molineux. 3. Buy them from second-hand goods shops owned by shady looking blokes.

Unfortunately the old programme game is controlled by shady looking blokes. If you want to develop this hobby there are two ways to deal with the problem; 1. Console yourself that hobbies without a hint of danger are usually crap. 2. Avoid  the shady looking blokes by working in your local semi-pro club’s club shop (This also has the clear benefit of being the best way to gain programmes as people will invariably see you as the ideal target to foist old programmes upon).  When you’ve dealt with the problem of shady looking blokes and then gained access to programmes you can start!

In case you’re still wondering about which method to use in this hobby, this is how you use old programmes to conduct social history; read the programmes and then remember what life is like at the moment. Now you know how to start your hobby!!

I’ll give you an example of how it works – Earlier this year someone presented me with a programme for the 1969/’70 league match between Manchester United and Arsenal at Old Trafford (cost; 4d). It only took a solitary paragraph to become aware just how differently they used to do things. Yes it can be that simple, one paragraph is all that’s needed to conduct social history.

The paragraph in question concerned the forthcoming Liverpool V Manchester United match. United not only told their supporters that the match was not all ticket match but they advised their supporters to use the Anfield Road end. Advised!!! Yes, that’s advised not ordered.

Nowadays British society seems to enjoy the fact that Liverpool v Man Utd is a hate-filled hype-fest.  Even if you combined Christmas, Easter, New Year’s Eve, May Day and Llandudno’s victorian extravaganza into one politically correctness gone mad non-denominational festival called “YESTIVAL”  this would be nothing when compared to United v Liverpool. In the 1960s, as you can see, the match was treated as just another. 

The paragraph also shows that football, although popular in the ’60s, was not the all-consuming behemoth it is now. At Man Utd v Liverpool matches in the 21st century you will remain ticketless unless you know Ryan Giggs or Stevie G or you’re Irish. In the 1960s you could just turn up and pay on the turnstile.

The paragraph also highlights the changing leisure patterns of the British people since the 1940s. The fact that there was an announcement indicates that the clubs were actually expecting people from Manchester to go to this match. This highlights the development of transport, higher earnings and greater free-time since the “You never had it so good” 1950s. The announcement in the programme is enough to make you pine for the days when football fans were trusted, or was it “uncared for”? Look at the knowledge and understanding that can be gained from one simple paragraph!!

Societal changes can be seen through the simple comparison of programmes. Take two Liverpool v Chelsea programmes, one from 2003 (£3) and the other from 1966 (4d

In 2003 the programme says that Liverpool had “Fantastic fans” who were “World Famous” but that didn’t stop their Stadium Manager, a Mr. Ged Poynton, telling these fantastic fans that he didn’t like it when they stood up at matches;

 “All clubs have signed up to the Health and Safety Package………..Many fans find their enjoyment of the game wrecked when a small number of people choose to get on their feet for long periods……….Fans who persistently stand and ignore requests…. may ultimately not be renewed under the Ground Regulations.” And you can use the space under the seats to store club superstore carrier bags safely. However the fans with carrier bags had better watch out. On the same page as Mr.Poynton’s piece was a warning from the saintly Michael Owen; Beware pickpockets!! – “especially in crowded areas”.

The 1960s were obviously free of moral panics and hysteria of the 2000s, they were a more carefree tim. 37 years earlier the only thing that the Liverpool v Chelsea programme urged fans to do was ”wet your whistle with a Threllfalls”.

Other differences between then and now can be seen. Nowadays managers like Wenger and Ferguson will blame poor pitches for defeats  but managers in the 1960s would have no truck with such bullshit, the 1966 Liverpool v Chelsea programme tells us that Anfield would be hosting an Everton reserves  home match (yes, the hated enemy) and a police match (Liverpool City Police versus The Met within two days of each other. Shanks could have stopped these games but chose not to.

You can also see that people used  more polite and more circumspect language in the 1960s;  if you were “Extra Broad or Extra Small” you had no need to worry according to the advert for the “Outsize mans shop”. There was less hard sell as well; an advert offered train travel up to Glasgow by train (to watch Liverpool play in the Cup Winners’ Cup final) for only 70 Shillings return. The club didn’t make the advert sound like they were taking the opportunity to make a fast buck, they made it sound like a public information announcement.

It’s not just the 1960s programmes that show you a different Britain, 1980s programme also highlight differences as well. The 1980s were the heyday of my programme collecting days so I have lots of examples.

For example take an Aston Villa programme from 1980 (Villa V Brighton 35p). That programme made the 1980s feel like an era where football made a blatant attempts to woo businessmen. Villa told us that; 

Business executives from around the world” would  ”have taken away very tasty impressions” due to the “…..Luxuriously appointed amenity in the new stand…..”. 

Businessmen have always played a part in professional football but the tone in the programme showed that Villa were open to new ways of attracting people using the new methods to do business in Thatcher’s Britain (Villa were probably hoping that the businessmen would bring some cash with them). You could quite plausibly argue that an appeal of this nature  highlights the move away from the discredited ideas of John Maynard Keynes towards the thrusting  monetarism of Thatcher.

Although you could claim that football started to reflect the more political climate we’re not talking about 2011 just yet, the Villa didn’t just cater for the international Jet Set they also tried to remember that  their club was still a family. If you wanted to join“…the big happy family that is working for Aston Villa, just give Peter Young a call.” I wonder if Peter’s still there? You don’t here this kind of talk now do you? You could say that the programme also highlighted the developing tension between the brave new Thatcherite world and the cosy old world.

Generally speaking there was a nice warm glow about 1980s football programmes that a fan from the 1960s would find recognisable. The outlook was still local, interviews or profiles were non-judgemental, and the adverts were quaint. In 1985 I found a shop near Anfield that sold mystery programme bundles for a pound. As a consequence I still possess many examples of the 1985-‘86 vintage. Here’s a small taste of that time.

From the Aston Villa V Newcastle programme of that season (50p) you would have learnt that Villa’s talent scouts had the North of England well-covered and that Mark Walters was engaged to Tracey, a Coventry girl, but had no immediate plans to marry. The approach was purely anodyne – clichéd Steak  ‘n’ chips, Diana Ross stuff – but the lack of intrusion did have a sort of charm when compared to the hectoring style of the present.

You could find all sorts of interesting curios in mid-1980s programmes. For example, badge collecting was a big scene in the 1980s. Wojtek Wisinski from Poland wanted to swap pin badges with some people from the decadent west and for some reason he chose Bolton (Bolton V Fulham, 1987, 60p), he promised to reply. Another Pole, Andrej Porzuczek chose Man City (City v Bury, 50p). The programmes also reminded me that pen pals were a big thing in the 1980s.

The backpage of a Leeds programme in 1986 (Leeds v Sheff. Utd, 50p) often contained an inter-generational line up featuring Terry Phelan, Denis Irwin and Peter Lorimer. At Crystal Palace (Palace v Charlton, 50p) Roger de Courcy and Nookie Bear were always keen to “visit” Selhurst Park when their “professional duties permit”. A Shrewsbury programme (Shrewsbury v Hull City, 50p) could even offer an academic enquiry into the effect of kit colour on performance.

When you look at the programmes through the eyes of today they could contain strange adverts.  Chester were supported by their local Nuclear installation at Capenhurst because this facility was “A factory enriching the future” that was “alongside a city rich in history”. I couldn’t help but wonder what the facility thought they would be  enriching the future with, maybe they foresaw a large leak of enriched uranium gas. (Chester V Scunthorpe, 40p)

If you were staying in the Ipswich area for a few days at that time you could get in touch with the Allthread Distributor Group for “..all your industrial threded fastener requirements” or nuts and bolts to the rest of us. (Ipswich v Birmingham, 50p)

Some of the adverts spookily predated later developments. Sandoms of Peckham (Palace v Charlton, 50p) beat Claims Direct by 20 years with this direct plea; “You Got Bovver? Phone a lawyer! This advert, for such base matters, was placed unfortunately next to the page of the club chaplain unfortunately, how would people concentrate on the spiritual message?  Maintaining concentration on spiritual matters was probably made more difficult by the tempting offer at the bottom of the page. Your wife could be the proud owner of  a “Ladies Leisure Suit” for less than 18 pounds if you were quick enough to buy one.

Everything cost less in 1985. You could also pick up a half-season ticket for the Holte End for £30.00, (a saving of £12 from paying at the turnstile) and a new Villa shirt for £13.99 (or £14.99 if you wanted one with a sponsor’s logo). (Aston Villa V Newcastle 50p). At Cardiff  it cost 10p for a child’s pass to the Family Section at Ninian Park, £3 for a Tonne of coal if you went to the right place and £30 to sponsor Tarki Micallef’s tracksuit. (Cardiff v Derby, 50p). If you wanted to get the coach to a Norwich home games it would only cost you £2 but you’d have to catch it from outside Swaffham Toilets. (Norwich v Barnsley, 50p)

During the 1980s it seems that supporters were far more trusted by clubs, it seems that they were considered to be a proper part of the club. I’m not sure the same feeling exists in 2011, at least not in the same way as back then.  There was also a good spirit between fans back then; at Ipswich three supporters’ clubs (Ipswich v Birmingham, 50p)   had raised several hundred pounds for the Bradford City Disaster Fund in 1985.  There was more of a community feel as well. In programmes of this era clubs would entice you into joining lotteries, scratchcards and  totes etc to raise money for the clubs. Fans evidently played an important part in raising revenue for the clubs. In today’s light this is an unbelievebly quaint idea. Imagine fans helping to raising money to help premier league clubs pay the bills!!!!! 

However it wasn’t all warm lager and sunshine in the mid 1980s programmes; the spectre of hooliganism was also present. Every club ran a coach service to games, alcohol-free and stewarded coaches. (How different from the unguarded 1960s).

By the 1980s most programmes began to carry the legend; ”official programme”. The addition of those two words begs the obvious question; who would want to go to the trouble of making an unofficial Walsall programme? An article in Walsall v Newport programme may suggest a reason for the addition of those two words. The article complained that there were “7 and a half” pages of adverts in the last programme, maybe underground fan groups wanted to produce an advert-free programme?

I can’t talk about the subject of looking at old programmes without mentioning Welsh international programmes.

It’s amazing how much the Welsh international programmes highlight both how things have changed and how they have remained the same. The opening message, always on the third page of the programme, has always been upbeat with it’s optimistic tone; “this could be the time”. In the 1970s & ’80s you start to sense that there’s a history of frustration of  “nearlys” and “not quites” if you look at enough programmes. In later years the programme’s message still tries to remain upbeat but the style has a hollowness, instead of hope it feels more like “abject failure disguised in the language of hope”.

In 1973 (Wales v Scotland, 10p) Wales were one good result in Poland away from the World Cup. Wales didn’t qualify.

In 1975 we had a vital game in front of us for qualification (Wales v Austria, 1975, 15p).  Wales “qualified”.

By 1983 Wales were top of the group (Wales V Bulgaria, 50p), still had a “fine chance”.  6 months later we were “one win from qualification” (Wales v Yugoslavia, 60p). Wales didn’t qualify.

In 1985 Wales “still had a good chance” of qualifying for Mexico (Wales v Spain, 80p). Wales didn’t qualify.

By 1999 a win against the ex-Soviet republic Belarus had “lifted the spirits of the nation” (Wales V Switzerland, £3). Wales didn’t qualify.

Yes Wales used to ride the wave of hope but now we can’t be bothered to hope. Not only are  you able to track the dwindling hopes of the national team you can notice curios too; Sectarian issues are nothing new in the Welsh support; Mike England bemoaned the north-south divide in the crowd as early as 1980 (Wales v England, 40p).

We can also notice differences over time.

In 1979 (Wales V Germany, 30p) Clive Thomas decided to proclaim “No” to Pro Refs”. He remained so resolute it was tempting to think that the Sweden V Brazil match in Argentina ’78 had never happened. If refs went professional Clive might  have to give up his job as a promotions executive with “one of the largest industrial cleaning firms in Europe” so he may have had ulterior motives for dismissing the idea out of hand. On the subject of adverts,  if any fans at the Germany match were after insurance they had prospect of “keen quotes” from T& J Lewis or if they wanted Hi-Fi equipment they could have gone to T.E. Roberts as it was ”All At Discount Prices!!!”.  

11 years on (Wales V Belgium £1) the FAW obviously weren’t arsed about the programmes; the opinion pieces and articles had  been virtually dropped and the only advert was  for the “Main Contractors for the Refurbishment of the Welsh Football Association Headquarters.” I’m not sure I would accept a recommendation from an organisation from that can’t even get their own name right. – The correct title of the Welsh F.A. is the  “Football Association of Wales” in case you’re interested.

At least we know this has now changed, the FAW now knows its own name.

To cut a long story short I recommend reading old programmes.

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22 12 2011
20 reasons why I love football, Part One « Llandudno Jet Set

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