Programme Corner: 1965/66 & 1966/67

I haven’t had a lot of time of late to get stuck into my programme watch articles, but as there’s no game today, I thought I’d bring you another article.

This time, we’re looking at a real low point in the Imps history – 1965 through 1967. As you know, elsewhere in the world, England were winning the world cup and the country was alive to the sounds of the swinging sixties, but at Sincil Bank, they’re probably best described as the sinking sixties. Relegation in successive seasons certainly would have hurt, as did two 22nd place finishes sandwiching the 11th place in 1963/64.

However, by 1965/66, as England geared up to welcome the world, City again finished 22nd. With the glory of the World Cup still firm in fan’s eyes, we went one better in 1966/67 – we finished rock bottom of the Football League. It was the first time we had done so since the league split into four divisions – it was the first of only three times since the war we’ve finished at the foot of the whole Football League (1987 and 2011 being the other two). Depressing stuff, but luckily away games at Boreham Wood and Salisbury didn’t await, just a bit of persuading the boys club to vote us back in.

It might have been a poor time for the team, but it wasn’t terrible for the programme. I really like the design, and whilst it crowds sank to their lowest since the war, you can still find copies relatively easily.

I have opted for the final programme of this era, from the fixture with Barnsley in 1967. However, both years are very similar, and although the cover is much better than 1964/65, the content has been dumbed down a bit. If anything, they’re a bit of a regression, and the perfect sixties programme might have been this cover and the previous season’s content.

I think there’s something really effective about the cover, a shot of the railway End, the Imp and the Cathedral. It captures the essence of Lincoln, as a city and a club, perhaps more so than the players were able to do at the time!

The first page is reserved for some club information – I can’t believe how many vice presidents we had!

I do find the programme notes interesting, both chairman and manager were hopeful of a better season in 1967/68, and they did get improvement, throughout the late sixties, which was nice.

The next two pages look very standard, with adverts not really developing much over the previous 25 years. On the right hand page, you’ll find the usual pen pics from the opposition. again, this is standard stuff for any programme post-war up until this point, and remains so to this day.

Next up – the page Lincoln fans must have wanted to skip. Bottom of the league and the reserves struggling in the Midland Counties League, it was not a good time to be an Imp. The team were without a win since March 11, and that 8-1 victory against Luton must have seemed a long while ago. Odd then, that Roy Chapman managed 19 goals – I always thought a 20-a-season striker guaranteed success. If only he’d got one more.

In the middle, we were presented with the team, and for this game there was a change; George Peden played instead of Ray Lancaster. It still says something of the age when the team could be predicted with 95% accuracy a couple of days before the game, in time for printing. These days, you can barely predict the team an hour before it is due to drop.

I also wonder if South Park Pet Stores were secret Grimsby fans….

Up next, a but about the Lincolnshire Leagues, which actually I think makes a good addition to the programme. There’s an argument that maybe the same could go in the current programme, to give it a bit more general interest. One problem with print media dying is those clubs that occasionally got in the paper now can’t, so it’s tough to find out who sits where in the Sunday League, for instance. Delighted to say 1967 was a good year for my local team, Louth United, top of Division One!

When I said the programme was light on the content I meant it. There’s a definite regression in terms of articles and features. There’s no quiz either, just a list of the scores in the Midland League. There are some heavy defeats in there against the likes of Spalding, Goole and Lockheed-Leamington. Even now, if we sent our reserves off to Spalding, you’d expect to get something, would you not?

Ominous stuff from the Supporter’s Club – they feared for the club’s future. It might be nice to travel back in time and allay their fears – better days were ahead. Also, they were wrong about 10,000 – we haven’t averaged that many since this programme came out, and yet here we are, still fighting. Mind you, if it wasn’t for the Supporter’s club, and groups like them over the years, we probably wouldn’t exist now.

The back cover. thrilling.

The programme did carry the same price as 1964/65, but there is seemingly less content; all that glitters is not gold and the fancy cover only hides the same tired formula that we’d had since after the war. Things were about to change, the programme does get better – eventually!

One interesting fact is the emergence of the Football League Review. It started appearing in the club’s programme in 1966/67, and became a regular in the years afterwards. It had two effects that I can see; at first, it meant clubs didn’t have to try as hard with their content, as they were given something for free that kept punters happy. Long term, I think it sets a precedent for programme editors, who quickly developed their own product to be glossier, more informative and interesting. Doubtless, you’ve come across a copy of the Football league review before, but if not, the final few pictures come from the October edition of the magazine, packaged with the home programme against Halifax Town.