The age of the match day programme may seem to many to be dying but to many it is still the integral part of going to a game here in England. The content of many club’s programmes is out of date as soon as it has been written – that is the nature of the world of technology we live in today. Gone are the days when footballers would only ever speak to the match day programme editors or reporters. Today the mixed zone is full of every Tom, Dick and Sally who put quotes and comments up onto the internet within seconds of them being uttered, consumed by a global audience. Premier and Football League clubs still produce high cost, glossy match day magazines, filling it with bland articles about players trying to appear like normal chaps.
But it’s not all bad. Many clubs are trying to break the mould and doing something different. Once again, I have put my personal biased to one side as I have a little bit of a vested interest in the Lewes FC programme. We try to be different, pulling together articles from part-time writers up and down the land, making it topical rather than worrying too much about being bang up to date. We also produce an “e-programme” which we share with our members 24 hours after the game. So I would say we are a shoe-in for the top prize, but you will never forgive me. So here’s our three best other offerings from 2013.
3rd Place – Jarrow Roofing Football Club
Down in the Northern League Division Two, or step six of the Non-League pyramid there is a great little story building in the suburbs of Tyneside. Jarrow Roofing have embraced Social Media, offering interviews via their AudioBoo channel, match highlights via YouTube and of course all the trappings of Facebook and Twitter. Someone up there knows their fan engagement onions that’s for sure. But they also produce a decent programme, both in print and in e-format which you can subscribe to for a season (at just £20) and have it delivered into your email account pre-match. Hats off for innovation and showing that it’s not all about size, but what you do with it.
2nd Place – Clapton FC
Essex Senior League Clapton have struggled in recent years to get more than a couple of dozen fans through the games of the Old Spotted Dog ground. However, this year that has all changed by a group of new fans who have formed a support that has all of the Non Leagues talking. They have brought colour and passion to the club, even if the owners do not approve. They have also started producing a programme that is free for anyone to download (try a copy yourself here). Reviews of old programmes (from 1940/50’s), almost completely devoid of adverts and relevant stories not only from the Non Leagues but also football in general. Standing ovation from one Programme editor to another.
1st Place – Champions League/FA Cup Final
I’m not shy in giving stick to our footballing authorities but I have to say the quality of the programmes produced for major finals is absolutely top quality. Full of information about both sides, reviews from games in history and fantastic photography. I rarely bother with a programme these days, but this year I was lucky enough to attend both major finals at Wembley in May and both editions were must-reads. Yes, they were pricey, but these are programmes that I will keep in mint condition for years to come.