Monday, July 6, 2009

My wife calls me a pack rat. She calls me other things too, but for today let's just look at this one!

For those in the UK unfamiliar with that expression it means she says I'm a hoarder, not that she's saying I'm the rodent of the same name. She says hoarder of junk, I say collector of fine objects! Toemaytoe toemahtoe.

Sports memorabilia, programmes, 7" records are all things I love.

Of course it all started when I was a kid. Then it was primarily football programmes, stamps and a bizarre obsession for getting an action man from my great aunt every birthday. I may have been planning an invasion. I still don't really know why.

Collecting football programmes back then was great. Not that the programmes themselves were in most occasions. No glossy, fancy full colour productions that cost a fortune back then. More just adverts galore and very little info. East Fife's ones in particular in the late 70's and into the 80's were particularly uninspiring.

It was still fun to have stuff from all over the world though.

As the years went on, my interest in programmes started to wane. Many were sold, others that had no real interest to anyone anymore were thrown out. I still have a pile in a couple of boxes that I need to take to a dealer at some point. Collecting programmes just got boring and uninspiring for me.

My collection now is really just my East Fife and Vancouver Whitecaps ones and a few others that have special meaning or interest to me.

Even East Fife's away ones became more of just a regimented collecting for the sake of my collection rather than something to look forward to reading. Buy it at the game have a quick flick through at half time, then file it away with the others from that season never to be looked at again most of the time!

Thankfully the East Fife home programme has kept my interest going in recent years. "The Bayview" has been excellent under the Trust and I've really enjoyed writing for it the last two seasons, continuing into the coming one. Winning the Divisional programme of the year award was a great reward for all our hard work and being second overall nationally even more so.

I also feel that where most Clubs seem to think of the programme as an afterthought, thus making it a bland affair and not of much interest to those not supporting the home Club, East Fife's one does have a lot of appeal to all fans attending the game or picking up a copy from wherever after it.

Vancouver Whitecaps sadly don't issue a regular programme (or program as they like to call it in North America). There's a staple one issued at the start of the season, which is informative and enjoyable and also packed and free! Can't fault that. But that's pretty much it for the season, although it would appear they may issue a second one this season about the halfway mark.

The reason? There's not really the demand for them. They're mostly read and throw away items. Not the same anorak mentality, which is a good thing in some respects! It does make increasing your collection a painfully slow and uneventful one, but does save on space!

I hope that they'll change this going into the MLS. Produce different programmes for every match harking back to the NASL days.

I'd rather pay for an every game issue than just get one season-long affair that was free. I may be alone in that. It's certainly something I would be keen on being a part of if they did go down that path.

It does make you fully appreciate the UK programme culture though and several teams have reignited my programme interest in recent years, noticably mostly non league ones.

AFC Wimbledon and FC United Manchester not surprisingly lead the way, as they do with most things in the way that a football club should be run. Their programmes are interesting and entertaining. So much so that I'm going to be subscribing to the Wombles one for their first season in the Blue Square Premier.

They, along with clubs like East Fife, show just how important and good PR a well crafted programme can be to a football club.

It's just a pity that others, on both sides of the Atlantic, don't always see it that way.

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