The matchday programme has been a shared joy for millions for more than a century and in this ‘What It Means’ series we highlight the affection supporters hold for their collections…
Retired senior bank manager John Pitts dare not count the cost of his programme collection but knows his obsession is worth every penny.
The 68-year-old got hooked on matchday programmes in 1966 when England hosted the World Cup and has had a lifetime of obtaining Plymouth Argyle and Queens Park Rangers editions ever since.
The Pilgrims fanatic explains: “My initial collecting was with Plymouth, and it still is, but I loved the great Rodney Marsh at QPR of the time and when the club launched their famous coloured chequered programme cover with matchstick players it felt fresh and modern and it acted as a sort of trigger for me. I had to try to get every issue and it has been an addiction that has stayed with me ever since.
“When I was young we never had any social media or internet so the programme was an insight into the teams and cities around the country – a sort of social history. Programmes are a treasured moment in time that digital versions just can’t compete with.”
A subscriber to this season’s ‘Hoops’ matchday publication John admits he has witnessed first-hand the evolution of the programme, from single-sheeted pamphlets to all colour glossy perfect-bound issues.
He said: “Nowadays there is almost too much content in each issue, but I do love to read about the youth teams, the players of tomorrow, as well as finding out more about the women’s game.
“Programmes are there to inform and I’ve always enjoyed the opposition pages as that gives you a feel for who you are playing that afternoon. I have to admit I tend to steer clear of the historical features though because as I’ve lived them it makes me feel my age!”