Programme Watch: 1981/82

When the older, more experienced Lincoln City fan thinks of 1981/82, they think of Colin Murphy’s slick promotion chasing side, so close to the second division and yet so far. They’ll be taken back to Craven Cottage, where they’ll doubtless relive Steve Thompson’s red card and Fulham’s success.

Not me. I was approaching my third birthday so I suspect I was focused on learning how to use a toilet and crying when I didn’t get my own way. Some things never change.

The team conjures up all sorts of emotions in those who were there, names such as Peake, Cockerill, Shipley and Thompson went on to grace the First Division, now the Premier League. It was a time of immense promise that sadly, led to nothing. Today, we’re looking at the programme of the period.

Most of the programmes of the time were A3 sized and came in black and white, aside from a cover of red, or orange depending on how you see shades, and the odd splash of the same colour inside. The programmes of the era were very similar, leaving the bulky efforts of the late seventies behind and eventually leading to a horribly shaped effort in the 1983/84 season. More on that in another article.

They also featured the ramblings of Colin Murphy, before he won his award for massacring the English language. His notes appeared on page two of the 20-page publication and above you can see his introduction to the Third Division after we won promotion by finishing second to Southend the year before.

Many of the obvious features are included, what I feel were standard programme content in the eighties. One feature I do like was Maurice Burton’s column. Maurice was a journalist who brought Lincoln City to life for many people in the days before computers. Often, his report and analysis was all the fans had to go on and as someone who fancies himself as a bit of an Imps historian, his thoughts are like gold dust for me today. They’re fascinating and well informed and make these programmes an enjoyable read even today.

there’s the usual focus on the opposition too, something that gets done even to this day. In the modern era there’s obviously a clamour to do it differently, to introduce far more analysis and razzmatazz into the pages, but a double page spread with a few pen pics and a black and white photo. The picture I’ve chosen features an ex-Imps manager who was a part of the team that broke our hearts.

I like these programmes for many reasons, but the match photos are good too, better than some of the later editions from the mid eighties. Coupled with Maurice Burton’s piece, they’re excellent to have, unlike some of the 1950s which are great to own but offer little insight through being eight pages long!

There’s even a piece on the local football scene and I’d imagine that they were very popular back in the day. There was a prize too, a lucky number hand stamped on the front and I assume drawn at half time. Imagine being the poor employee with the stamp! They must have got bored quickly as a majority of the season has you looking for Colin Murphy’s lucky autograph. Far less work!

Sadly, like many programmes of the era, they’re worth very little. Of course, if you’re a collector starting out this is great news because you could arguably lay your hands on a full season with little ado. I have three or four complete seasons from this era and despite the eBay prices being £1.99 upwards, a collector would be buying at around 20p a copy. The most I’ve paid for a programme from this particular season was £1, rather ironically the shortest of the whole season.

We were in the ‘Football League Cup’ which was a predecessor of the EFL Trophy and the club released a single A4 sheet, folded in two with a cover price of 10p. As aggregate attendance for the two games against Norwich and Notts County was just under 5,000 there should be a few copies floating about and any listing with the word ‘rare’ in block capitals is having you on.

I’d hesitate to say there’s any ‘nice’ ones to own as they’re all fairly standard and uniform, but for people who like quirks and such like, keep an eye out for the Brentford edition (we won 1-0) where Stan Bowles played, and the League Cup 3rd round replay in which Graham Taylor’s Watford beat us 3-2. Maurice Burton describes Lincoln fans as having a ‘soft spot’ for Taylor in that copy!

Miss Lincoln City FC, Paula Staines, makes an appearance in the centre of the Bristol City match programme, although it is far less crass than it sounds. She also appears in the Fulham programme, this time with details of the competition she won to be given such a lavish title.

If you are looking for copies of programmes from this season I have a small selection of duplicates I’m willing to trade for Imps memorabilia and the like.



  1. I’ve always thought that Colin Murphy’s programme notes for that period must have been edited by someone else to put them into a form of English that made them – shall we say – a bit more orthodox than his later efforts.

Comments are closed.