Programme Corner: 1970/71

It’s been a while since I’ve had time to do a programme corner, and the truth is, you have the storm to thank for this!

I lost internet connection a moment ago, which means I can’t work, but I can write up something for the site and publish it at a later date! Hence the latest addition to programme corner. You might have forgotten, I almost had, but it’s a series where I eventually hope to have every Lincoln City programme (season, not individual) pictured and analysed on the site. This, my friends, is the definition of the word niche.

So, we’re into 1970/71, and if you wish to get a real flavour for the season, Malcolm’s excellent season review is right here for you to get a look at. If it’s just the programme you’re interested in, then stay right here!

The 1970/71 programme saw a welcome change after three years of the same design. That was almost symbolic for the club as a whole: we’d had three years of decent, if not spectacular finishes, and this one season stands out against that backdrop, but for the wrong reasons. The Imps struggled, finishing 21st, the lowest finish in four seasons, and the lowest we’d finish until relegation in 1987. It was a one-off season, and a one-off programme.

The most striking change was a new colourful cover design, although it still featured the cathedral as it had for all but one season since the early fifties. The price rose too, seeing an increase of a third to one shilling. Interestingly, the decimal price was also shown on the cover (5p) ready for the introduction of new money in February. The first edition to have just the new money on the cover was the Good Friday edition, against York City.

There were changes inside, but they were pretty minimal. Of course, the first pages showed the club details, some notes from the manager and then a set of adverts. We’ve used the programme from Boxing Day 1970 here, with Bert Loxley penning the notes, but by the season’s end, David Herd was behind the typewriter instead.

The layout was very similar to almost every other year since the war, with some of the fonts and style remaining ‘same old, same old’. The next two pages had the fixtures and scorers. On the opposite page there’s a few adverts, including one for the Saturday Football Echo, the fabled ‘green ‘un’ that everyone loved. Oddly, Welbourn Sportsground had a space reserved for most of the season that they failed to fill!

Next up is the league table, and a bit from the Red Imps Association. All these pages feel really familiar, having featured so many times before. The one we’ve used shows the Imps in a decent place, 14 points from the top (seven wins), but 18 from the bottom. A late collapse put paid to any hopes of a push to the top of the table, and we finished 30 points from the top and just 17 from the bottom.

Finally, a bit of new content! This was the first sighting of the away travel information for upcoming games, and doubtless it was well received at the time. Route planners, the internet and stuff like that were all a long way from being reality, so this would have been a godsend to anyone wanting to travel away to games. Neither of the grounds featured here exists anymore.

After the middle page spread, the next two were a bit of a mixed bag. This edition has a photo of John Kennedy, the Supporters Club Notes and Golden Goals winning tickets, costing a shilling and handing out some big prizes. Other editions have a message about supporter safety and adverts here.

After a page or two of change, we revert back to the tried and tested style. There’s the half time scores decoder. For those who do not know, each game had a corresponding letter, and at half time, someone would take to the pitch, hold up a letter (say O for Palace and Chelsea) and then the score. This was a way of getting scores known to people in the days before a decent PA (if we ever had one). There’s also a Midland League fixture list and league table, with a certain Mr Ward putting the odd goal away; he’d be a name fans knew well in a couple of years’ time.

You might notice in the bottom right the match ball donors for the season. Interesting to see Levi’s Jean on there!

The final double-page spread had more adverts, plus some pen pictures of the opposition team. It might not have been easy to spot the opposition players in the days before squad numbers, but at least this gave you a fighting chance of knowing a bit about them! This Colchester team had John Kurila, who would later player for us, and former England international Ray Crawford, who the programme editor said would need ‘very little introduction’.

Someone who did need introduction was the referee, and for the first time, he got a little section of his own as well.

The final innovation, and another which became a staple of the programme, was the appearance of the teams on the back of the publication. This edition had the teams spot on, but there was no Christmas cheer for City; we lost 2-1, the second of three 2-1 defeats.

Remember, if you have a passion for programmes, or you’re looking for some to complete your collection, the Red Imps Community Trust have a stand in the fanzone selling programmes from the fiftes onwards. That’s a welcome return for the old programme at a ground, something that hasn’t been the case for many, many years. Pop along and speak to Martin, Rob, Steve and the team there to see if they’ve got what you need.