Soccer AM/MW - the home of lively and humorous discussion from the Football and Non Leagues

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The End of the Programme?

With League One Carlisle becoming the first club to stop producing match day programmes, the lads discuss such publications, their importance, and their future prospects.

The programme is a part of football.

I can't remember the amount of times I've gone to a new ground and handed over a couple of quid to some young hoodlum or elderly person who looks like if he left the ground he'd die.

Opening the programme to the middle page, shoving your nose into its smooth texture and giving it a big whiff to see how it smells.

Then, flicking through the pages while the players run about. Reading the club history. Checking out the player profiles. Finding the quiz so you know where to go at half time.

Nobes: It is definitely an essential part of the pre-match and half time experience. I always enjoy the quizzes some programme produce and testing my football knowledge. It was a good way of learning more about other clubs.

Lakes: I'm a sucker for programmes, too, it has to be said. I like to read the manager's notes and I enjoy seeing the likely line-up of the opposition before kick off.

It's something to fill those moments while you're waiting for the game to get underway.

Turls: I've got a fair few Forest programmes lying around. My Dad has got loads of Non League programmes.

I've also got some Forest fanzines too.

Nobes: I have to admit, I went through a phase where I simply had to buy a programme if I went to a match. If I didn't, it'd somehow not feel right.

Turls: I have to say that if I went to a football match and didn't buy a programme, I'd feel as if I'd slapped God in the face with a wet kipper.

Nobes: Haha. I think it's the feeling of having that memento, that keepsake, maybe even that proof that you were at a specific game.

You might never look at it again after you've bought it. It will just collect dust in a box along with hundreds of others - but you still have to buy it just in case.

I've got both the programme from our first ever Football League game, and our last one, too. I can't say I've looked at either for years - but I still wouldn't want to get rid of them. For me, they're important parts of my club's history.

Lakes: I've got the programme for Preston's 2005 play-off final, and I'm in it! There was a group photograph of the representatives of all the clubs who participated in the launch of the Coca Cola Win a Player promotion.

It's a really nice programme, actually. More like a book. Half of it devoted to West Ham, half of it to PNE. Definitely a keepsake. Just a shame we didn't win!

Nobes: Actually, I've appeared twice in programmes, too, both at Rochdale. Once as a visiting fan giving my reaction to having been to Spotland to watch a game.

Then, as the featured away fan profiling his team for the afternoon's game. That was quite weird. I was impressed they published my harsh comments slagging off my own team!

I've always wondered what club officials and the players - who usually get the chance to read the away programme pre-match, thought of my opinions. Maybe it spurred them on, as I seem to recall us getting a draw that day.

I even got an official welcome from a pal who wrote a column for the programme.

I'm not going to lie to you, it made me feel important - almost like the away team manager, who always a welcome in the programme from the home team boss.

Needless to say, I have kept both programmes.

Lakes: Haha, brilliant.

You see, it's great moments like those, where a publication can reach out and touch fans, which are in jeopardy.

Match day programmes are a thing of the past at Carlisle's Brunton Park

Turls: There are few better feelings than passing judgement on someone's work, too.

When you turn at the Victoria Pleasure Grounds to see Goole get hammered, it's refreshing to be able to look through the programme and understand that the rubbishness of the club doesn't just stop on the pitch.

Nobes: Haha. Yes. I do find myself looking for spelling mistakes - and frequently finding them.

Turls: When you come across a gem of a programme though, well, you feel as if you've won the lottery.


Turls: Non League programmes are a dream. You can shove your lush Championship play-off final programmes though!

Lakes: I agree to an extent. The Championship play-off final was about as far removed from a traditional programme as you can get, but the content was still good.

The rough around the edges Non League programmes are something else, though.

Turls: Programmes are deeply ingrained to my football experience. I find myself discussing them with my dad and brother at half time.

If I've got on my own, next time I speak to my dad, I talk about how impressed I was with Selby's 22-page programme.

The programme needs to be saved. Surely cutting the programme can't save that much money?

Nobes: As much as there's an emotional attachment to them, I can fully understand, and don't blame, clubs who decide that they aren't going to print them any more.

They usually publish the manager's notes on the club website these days, as well as images from away games you might have missed, and all the information about the squad.

Maybe printing them for special Cup ties would be a good idea. Perhaps when you're hosting a top flight club? However, for run of the mill league games, if it's not cost effective, then surely they can't keep printing them?

Lakes: First fanzines and now programmes. It's very sad. I can't help but think it'll spur an underground community of fans to create their own, though. In many ways, the whole thing could come full circle again.

Nobes: I imagine that Non League is where the programme might actually remain. They're not as glossy and fancy, and most of the clubs don't have particularly good websites or get much coverage in the local media.

I guess it's the one area where match day programmes still have an important part to play? We can only hope.

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