Programme Watch: 1946/47 & 1947/48

I vowed to begin going through my programmes chronologically to give you a picture of how they’ve evolved and to make it easier for me to spot the changes that occurred each time we swapped design etc.

I’m starting post-war, for two reasons. The main one is I don’t have any pre-war, they fetch big sums and whilst I’d love one in my collection, I’m not at a stage where I can afford to spend hundreds of pounds on programmes. The other reason is their general scarcity anyway – whilst a look on eBay will almost always result in something from the immediate post-war era being available, there is very little pre-war ever hits the market.

This is the oldest programme in my collection, and is worth much less than most because it’s got a tear on the back cover, writing on the front and a loose, rusty staple. I don’t really care too much about those things, so I still cherish it. Incidentally, the Imps won 5-2, having gone out of the FA Cup in the Third Round a week earlier against First Division side Nottingham Forest.

Manager Bill Anderson took over in January 1946, and on page two his notes discuss the unfortunate defeat against Forest, who went on to play against Manchester United (and win) in the next round. There is also an advert for a cigarette shop, which certainly wouldn’t be allowed in today’s programmes.

Next up us the league table, standard fare for the club programme since the beginning of time. We’re fourth from bottom heading into the Christmas period, but pulled ourselves up to 12th by the end of the season. There are three adverts for engineers and a little quiz. I love that some elements of the programme have never lost popularity, such as the quiz.

The 12-page programme then features the expected teams in the middle and information about upcoming matches in both the Midland League and Northern League, which is Division Three (N). Interestingly, the game advertised here is Oldham, but between Hartlepool and Oldham we played Rochdale at home (lost 3-2) and Crewe away (won 5-0). The team was quite accurate; only Jimmy Hutchinson missed out, with Bobby Owen making the first of his 255 appearances.

Note the advert for Bert Reynolds fishing tackle and sports outfitters at the top of the page – ‘we regret, for the time being, all goods are in short supply’. That was post-war Britain for you, of course. John Scott played it another way, peacetime, wartime, any time; they’d be selling you your groceries.

If you were desperate to know the answers to the quiz, then fret no more; it’s all here! There’s the Midland League, too, highlighting how much more important the reserves were to a club back then. We say no B teams in the league structure, by the way, but look at them all in the Midland League. B teams, Boston and Peterborough…..

You can see the unfortunate tear on the page here, as well as results from both the Northern League and Midland League. Not much else to say about that really, which leads us onto the back page.

Yup, it’s an advert for Lincoln’s favourite land barons, the Co-op. Remember, you do not need a television to see the benefits of co-operation… Cheesy adverts since 1947.

I’ve also photographed one from the next season, just to show the comparison. There are not many differences, apart from the fact that the one I’ve shot comes from our final home game of the 1947/48 season, which we needed to win to earn promotion. We did win, 5-0, with a Jimmy Hutchinson hattrick sealing our return to the Second Division.

The programme remained at 12 pages, it kept the same price and even the same format. Very little changed, hence not giving this season one of its own. With it being a Championship season, there should be a few from this campaign around if you don’t mind paying £30 a pop. That’s a bit OTT in my opinion, but dealers will likely charge you the same.

I’m tending to think Gas Showrooms on Silver Street might be spinning us a yarn – they were promising new post-war models for almost 18 months!

Bill Anderson delivered a promotion message in his notes, hoping for a bumper crowd for this pivotal game. More than 20,000 turned up, many more than the previous high of 17656 for the Good Friday victory against Gateshead. That was a big increase from the season’s opening day when ‘just’ 11,000 turned out to watch us play Hull City.

This page could almost be from the previous year, the adverts are the virtually same, but the league table looks very different. There’s a bit of information about Hartlepool(s), and no quiz this time.

I wonder how many of Lincoln’s youngsters cut this page out and stuck it on their bedroom walls, if they were lucky enough to be able to afford a programme. Poor old Bert Reynolds was still suffering from supply problems, but he did now boast a location just three minutes from the ground.

I know what you were thinking: with no quiz, how would they fill this page? You weren’t? Oh. I would have. Anyway, they filled it with fun facts that could have been the answer to quizzes, but weren’t. Scotts was still boasting about peacetime and wartime. I guess it took a while to get used to life after the wart for many, which people like you and I can’t really even begin to understand. I do find it interesting we have adverts from companies in Coningsby and Scunthorpe in the programme, it’s not unusual now (we were sponsored by Go Car, a Scunthorpe company), but it is interesting to see it in the years immediately after the war. By the way, look at Hutchinson’s total of 29 goals with 12 penalties. It seems we got the rub of the green from referees back then. As for Alec Davies, with 21 Midland League goals, he only managed 9 in the league in almost 40 appearances.