Programme Corner: The 11-year Programme (1953-1964)

I’ve renamed this featured Programme Corner. It occurred to me I’ve also got a ‘Ref Watch’, and with Programme Watch, I felt like I was turning into a watcher.

Today’s programme corner is an oddity in Imps history, and maybe even in programme history too. You’ve seen a couple of seasons where we had two programmes that looked the same; 1946/47 and 1947/48 were identical, as were 1949/50 and 1950/51, whilst 1951/52 and 1952/53 had the same cover, but subtle differences inside. What followed in 1953/54 was a nice new design and a familiar inside. The club loved it so much, it didn’t change much for a whole decade.

A lot can change in a decade. In 1953/54 we were a Second Division side, playing the likes of West Ham and Leeds United. In 1956, we finished eighth in the Second Division, our highest finish since World War II. In 1958, we staged the great escape, yet in 1961 we were relegated. In 1962, we were relegated again and in 1963, we had an FA Cup tie postponed a record number of times, eventually playing a Third Round game in March, four months after winning the second round match. By the time this programme design went, we were playing the likes of Barrow, Workington and Southport. Our first game to feature this design was Bury, with a crowd of 14564, the last was Barrow when just 2546 came to watch, It’s fair to say it spans an awfully big slice of our history.

What did the programme look like, I hear you ask? It might not be all that familiar now, but for a whole decade, the programme looked a lot like this.

The cover design features a lot of red, with an iconic view of the cathedral. The City coat of arms is on the front, and the price has gone up to three pence again, after dropping the year before with the removal of adverts. There’s an Imp on there, at the side of the ‘official programme’ bit, and they’re numbered, one presumes for a prize draw, although that isn’t clear on this edition.

On pages two and three we have the current division, and the Imps don’t appear to be doing badly. We’re tenth here, but ended the season 16th. For the record, we lost this game 2-1.

On the right, Bill Anderson has his say, and there are the details of that prize draw. The £1 prize is worth around £30 with inflation, not a bad reward.

As well as the adverts, pages four and five have some content on them, which is a blessing after the previous two years. The Supporter’s club get a small section, with someone called Hutchinson getting some cash from a Whist Drive. I wonder if we were related? I like G Comber and Sons advert, suggesting you should visit them after the game; I imagine that fell on deaf ears, unless they served Witney’s.

Onto the team, and it is a star-studded West Ham side; Malcolm Allison in the middle and John Bond, who went on to manage Man City. The Imps lineup has an iconic look too, with names that my Grandad doubtless enjoyed watching.

Those of you who have looked at these articles will notice a familiar feel to this programme; it’s a return to a style found after the war. The next page told us the latest results from the Imps, and had a bit of a quiz to test yourself with. These are what I’d call staples of the programme and are going to be in almost all editions we look at on here.

The last double page spread has the quiz answers, our reserves results and fixtures, and a handful of adverts. I remember the Australian Boot Company, although they’re on Baggholme Road in this programme and I’m sure I recall them being on Sincil Street. Shipley’s, later to become Jackson Shipley, are familiar too.

The final page is dead standard too, the half time scores would be shown via a set of boards, and the letter on the back corresponded to the game. It was probably a better way of doing it than trying to get s final in the stand today, or straining to hear the tannoy!

That’s that, but there were the odd subtle changes over the next ten years. For those who are interested, here is a cover of one from each year, and where there’s a bit of a change, I’ll add some notes.

1954/55 Liverpool

This was the first year we saw pen pics for the opposition come into the programme. I guess with playing big clubs, it made a bit of sense. You can see the Liverpool ones below.

It also saw the details of the prize draw added to the front of the programme.

1955/56 Sheffield Wednesday
1956/57 Liverpool
1957/58 Ipswich Town
1958/59 Derby County
1959/60 Aston Villa
1960/61 Norwich City
1961/62 Crystal Palace (Division Three)
1962/63 York City (Division Four)
1963/64 Workington

What a fall it must have been, going from Liverpool and Aston Villa to Workington and Barrow. It was such a fall, that for some of the programmes in 1963/64, the club didn’t bother with pen pics, instead they left a blank space where the notes should be.

That was the last season of the decade-long edition, and it’s why you might see a lot with the same cover if you ever browse eBay. I might not get many done over the next week, but rest assured I’ll be back with the rest of the sixties designs as soon as I can.