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…

Supporters around the globe go to extreme lengths to keep their matchday programme collections up to scratch, even when they are living in a war zone.

Andrii Husakovskyi from Kyiv has seen his world turned upside down over the last six months with Russia’s invasion of his homeland, but keeping his collectibles up to date has been a precious link back to a semblance of normality.

The 58-year-old businessman made sure he ordered two copies of the Scotland v Ukraine edition from the UEFA Nations League meeting in September, and was delighted that via producers Ignition Sports Media his order arrived in pristine condition despite the conflict on his doorstep.

He outlined his passion for programmes despite the on-going crisis, saying: “Ukrainian clubs produce programmes but they are not of the same quality as you produce in Britain, that is why we enjoy playing British sides because we get the best issues from you. Many clubs stopped producing when Covid hit but hopefully they will restart when we are back to normal.

“I have a fantastic collection but I am missing the official programme from Mexico vs Ukraine in 1993 from the USA and one England v Ukraine edition from 2009. I have all the others for the Ukraine national team.”

The lifelong Dynamo Kyiv supporter started obtaining programmes from 1973 before branching out to cover the Ukraine national team as well. Yet while his obsession remains, adjusting to life under fire and keeping his family and friends safe has become his new norm.

He explained: “Our parents who survived World War Two said a toast at the time, ‘If only there was no war!’. We did not understand. Now our children will say the same to their own.

“When on the first night a plane and a rocket were shot down above us and debris fell on neighbouring houses there was a lot of shock. Fear for yourself, the children, our country. Thoughts of starting a new life somewhere else in another place. But mostly shock. Now we are realists, we believe in our army and our country and we will fight until the end.”

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