I love football programs, I have collected them since I started going to watch football in the 1980's. They were what helped get me interested in the history of the game, especially in NZ. I like them so much that when I was involved with North Wellington in 1998 I took on the job of producing their club program for the season, while it was a lot of fun it gave me a good understanding of the amount of work and effort that goes into the small A5 booklet that you hand out (or sell) on match day.
While it is seen by some as a dying art, big leagues like the English Premiership have given clubs templates which make them so bland and boring they are effectively glorified team sheets. Newer technology is starting to take over, I will quite often receive a tweet of the actual team sheet at the game I'm at. But programs can still be a vital part of a clubs communications and a source of revenue for advertising. So its good to see they are still going reasonably strong at the grassroots level in Wellington.
As I went around the grounds in the Central & Capital Leagues this last season I picked up programs where I could and this is a review of the ones that ended up in my possession. It's not comprehensive as I didn't get all programs available but I think it gives a good overview of what was out there.
I have ranked the top 5 and after that grouped others together.
1st TAWA AFC
|3 of Tawa's outstanding programs|
I first saw Tawa's effort online and thought it was a pretty good program that would print out in a paper A5 format. Then I visited Tawa for their Chatham Cup game against Wairarapa United and I was blown away, not by the strong wind they had that day, but the incredibly professional A4 Glossy production they had produced and whats more it was free!
As well as that and having the necessary team lists it had news and reports from all teams at the club, a good piece on Tawa's historic 1992 Chatham Cup upset when they were in Central 1 and beat National League leaders Napier City Rovers 1-0. They even had a crossword & suduko puzzle and some cartoons! Editor Shannon Doyle and his team have done an amazing job and it would be no surprise if they won Program of the year at the NZ Football Media Awards.
2nd STOP OUT
|Stop Out v Western Suburbs program with my photo on the front cover|
Now I have to put a bit of a disclaimer here – Stop Out used a few of my photos in their program this season, they even reprinted my blog post on their away game against Lower Hutt City (although it would've been nice if they asked me first, but I forgave them!) but I didn't take that into account and looked at the program overall.
Their program is a A5 glossy packed with club news, photo's, stats (both this season and historic) and fans opinion pieces, it has all the Central League results not just their own. Also impressive are the pictures of the players next to their names in the team list most helpful when trying to identify them in photographs.
Previous NZ Program of the year winners in 2012. I put them 3rd here but it would be on goal difference, like Stop Out an A5 fully glossy program and used not just for the men's 1st team but also the women's 1st team with full team lists for both home and away teams. The content was limited to a 1st team match reports and some good historical stuff. A bit more thought could have gone into the placing of ads as having 2 pages facing each other with just ads isn't a great look.
4th WELLINGTON OLYMPIC
|Olympic's 1st team record since 1953|
Olympic pack their 16 page A5 glossy program with team lists (men's 1st & 2nd), reports, comments, adverts and a bit of history and use almost every space available. The result is a very busy program which seems to be crying out for an extra page or 2. The complete 1st team league record from 1953 when they were founded as Apollon was impressive.
5th = MIRAMAR RANGERS & ISLAND BAY UNITED
OK so I couldn't separate these 2 but it was for different reasons. Island Bay United's 20 page effort has a great cover, but it disappoints when you open up to find a colourless paper interior with similar but inconsistent fonts. However the content more than makes up for this with match reports and league tables on all teams in the club including Women's & U17 and a junior club summary. They also have appearance details for both the men's 1st and 2nd teams.
Miramar Rangers have a professionally designed, well laid out and easy to read program. It has the necessary team lists and league details but lacks other content, having comments from the Chairman, Captain and both the Central League & Capital Premier coaches is a bit much, especially when they are saying the same thing. No photo's either.
Miramar do produce an excellent online newsletter “The Ranger” with news on all club teams and player profiles and photos (yes OK they did use a couple of mine!) so its a bit of a shame they haven't combined these too a bit more with the match day program.
Mid Table Muddlers
WESTERN SUBURBS, PALMERSTON NORTH MARIST & NORTH WELLINGTON
Western Suburbs was another program that tried to pack as much as possible into it's 16 pages, but its paper and varying fonts gave it a very amateur feel, also they cut and pasted an article on the English Premiership on to the last page. This is a particular bugbear of mine, you're a NZ club playing in NZ, lets talk about NZ football!!!
Palmerston North Marist's program was from the Chatham Cup game against North Wellington and the program was surprisingly similar to the teams performance, impressive 1st half and then nothing! I realise advertising is a necessary evil but if you are going to fill up half your program with ads, no one is going to read it which sort of defeats the point.
North Wellington haven't produced a regular program for several years due to being in Capital 1. Their 8 page effort for the Chatham Cup clash against Upper Hutt City was pretty basic but did include appearance and goal scoring stats for the 1st team, and more unusually a coaches comment from the coaches of both teams.
Bottom of the table strugglers
LOWER HUTT CITY, WAIRARAPA UNITED & UPPER HUTT CITY
Lower Hutt City's program was a 4 page functional, photocopied production which fulfilled their obligation to produce a program, a half hearted effort had been made with a player profile as well as the chairman and coach comments.
Wairarapa United's 12 page effort looked as if it was printed out of Microsoft Word, they had some reasonable content and they did tell me they usually had at least one photo (usually on the cover) but it hadn't been sent to the editor in time for printing for this game.
Upper Hutt City's program was surprisingly disappointing for a club that is pretty on to it with social media and communications. Only having a team list for their own team was frustrating but more so was that 11 of their 16 pages were cut and paste articles on the UEFA Champions League Final and Manchester City, I suppose at least 2 of articles were on the All Whites.
I'd like to say a big thanks to all the people who dedicate their time to producing, contributing & distributing their clubs programs. I hope you all realise that your work is appreciated and you keep it up. Programs are an important part of helping to build a football culture and also provide a valuable social history.