The humble matchday football programme would most probably be your first souvenir associated with your favourite club.
First and foremost our thanks to Nigel Turner for providing some of the rare and harder-to-find matchday issues and tickets, and allowing them to be shown to a wider audience and also providing snippets of information to the West Ham United knowledge database. We would also like to thank John Northcutt West Ham United Statisticians Group and Richard Miller for their help and support with line-up's.
West Ham United's home game against Nottingham Forest on the 17th August 1968 in a game which saw Geoff Hurst scoring the only goal was the start of my programme collection.
Often when I look back through these paper gems of yesteryear, they invoke the memories of games that I had thought were lost forever, suddenly come flooding back. We all remember the good times especially the Cup Final wins against Preston '64, Fulham '75 and the Arse '80 and also those victories inflicted over our London rivals and the never to be forgotten games against Manchester United. Not least of all the Carlos Tevez goal against the Red Devil's on the very last day of the 2006-07 campaign to ensure we stayed in the Premiership.
But there are other memories, like when I look at the Mansfield Town F.A. Cup 5th Round programme from my first season I recall not only the three goals we conceded against the Stags that night, but also the vivid recollection of playing truant from school on no less than three occasions. The first two times the match was postponed at short notice because of heavy snow falls up North. Having suffered for 90 minutes in freezing temperature’s watching our faithful succumbed to lower league opposition when the game finally did take place, the journey home was none-the-less more eventful with the coach breaking down and me getting an ear-bashing from mum when I finally arrived home after 4 am the next morning. No mobile phones in those days.
My interest in football programmes first began when I purchased some bargain packs at a “Boys and Girls Exhibition” at Olympia in the late 1960’s. By the early 70’s after my passion for West Ham United had really taken hold, I decided to start collecting Hammers programmes by buying first the “Home” issues back to 1958 when we secured our First Division status and then concentrating on the “Aways” for the same period.
Today I simply collect anything “Claret and Blue” and my programme catalogue has now exceeded 8,000 including every post war home and away first team game bar one.
The price of pre-war items has grown to what I consider ridiculous levels so I am trying to obtain a “Scanned image or photocopy” of missing games – my main aim today is to fill the gaps of post war Reserve, Eastern Counties League and Metropolitan League away issues. This was helped recently by Ex-Hammer Malcolm Pyke who had kept all of his Metropolitan programmes from his playing days.
These days going to a match always entails getting hold of the day’s programme at the earliest opportunity, I am unable to relax until a copy has been carefully stored on my person. On the occasions that my son has been to games without me he feels exactly the same tensions – knowing that his old man’s programme needs to be obtained as soon as possible and returned home in pristine condition.