22 Unforgettable British Football Programme Covers From The 1960s, 70s And 80s

Once upon a time, British soccer was the sport for the masses. Now it’s the sport for mass consumption, the game repackaged into the Premier League, a shiny place where working-class fans see global ‘brands’ (formerly ‘clubs’) in televised, power-ballad-driven highlight packages. Presented in HD it’s almost like being there – but better. Because being there means being told to sit down and shut up, paying through the nose for replica tops and buying the official match-day programme – yours for £4. In the spirit of ‘things were so much better in my day’, we’ve gone back to the time when programmes were bought for pennies and you could show the players without negotiating with their image rights lawyer.

We’ll kick things off with this gem from 1983. Defending European Cup Winners Cup winners Aberdeen are taking on the mighty IA Akranes. The woman on the cover feeling the now Scotland manage Gordon Strachan’s hands for a quickening pulse is ‘Tricia’.

 

Aberdeen vs IA Akranes - 1983: The defending Cup Winners Cup holders and the quite brilliant "Tricia" cover.

Aberdeen vs IA Akranes – 1983: The defending Cup Winners Cup holders and the quite brilliant “Tricia” cover.

 

You know he still dresses like this.

Aston Villa vs Manchester United - 1976 - Cover Page  Let's this stylish fellow welcome you to Villa Park as Aston Villa host Manchester United in 1976

Aston Villa vs Manchester United – 1976 – Cover Page
Let’s this stylish fellow welcome you to Villa Park as Aston Villa host Manchester United in 1976

 

If you think this is dull, you should have seen the match.

Aston Villa vs Manchester United - 1984 - Cover Page  We're off to Villa Park as Aston Villa take on Manchester United in 1984

Aston Villa vs Manchester United – 1984 – Cover Page
We’re off to Villa Park as Aston Villa take on Manchester United in 1984

 

Ayr employ the town’s leading graphic artist to full effect.

Ayr United vs Rangers - 1976 - Cover Page  We're off to Somerset Park as Ayr United take on Rangers in 1976

Ayr United vs Rangers – 1976 – Cover Page
We’re off to Somerset Park as Ayr United take on Rangers in 1976

 

Birmingham City vs Tampa Bay Rowdies - 1980 - Cover Page  The whole Jasper Carrott hands across the ocean thing leads to a big friendly

Birmingham City vs Tampa Bay Rowdies – 1980 – Cover Page
The whole Jasper Carrott hands across the ocean thing leads to a big friendly

 

You says ‘Jugs’. Noreen says ‘Bottles’.

Birmingham City vs Reading - 1987  The lovely Noreen brings the milk and we bring you the action as Birmingham host Reading

Birmingham City vs Reading – 1987
The lovely Noreen brings the milk and we bring you the action as Birmingham host Reading

 

Proper Roy of the Rovers stuff at Bradford. If the team can’t play like the hymned Roy Race, the players can at least embody the comic strip ace’s 2D image.

Bradford City vs Bolton Wanderers - 1984 - Cover Page  We're off to Valley Parade as Bradford take on Bolton in 1984

Bradford City vs Bolton Wanderers – 1984 – Cover Page
We’re off to Valley Parade as Bradford take on Bolton in 1984

Bristol City vs Luton Town - 1972 - Cover Page  We're off again to Ashton Gate as Bristol City face Luton Town in 1972

Bristol City vs Luton Town – 1972 – Cover Page
We’re off again to Ashton Gate as Bristol City face Luton Town in 1972

 

Manchester City vs West Bromwich Albion - 1977

Manchester City vs West Bromwich Albion – 1977

 

In 1973, ‘Cherries’ was Dorset slang for LSD tabs.

Bournemouth vs Swansea City - 1973 - Cover Page  The acid nightmare that is Bournemouths 1973 programme welcomes Swansea to town

Bournemouth vs Swansea City – 1973 – Cover Page
The acid nightmare that is Bournemouths 1973 programme welcomes Swansea to town

 

It’s 1980 and Bristol City have employed the Old Spice marketing team to sex things up. These are the before and after shots.

Bristol City vs Liverpool - 1980 - Cover Page

Bristol City vs Liverpool – 1980 – Cover Page

 

The Academy of science welcomes you. Now look into the light and clear your mind…

Everton vs Tottenham - 1977 - Cover Page  The jovial Jim McGregor welcomes you to Goodison for Everton vs Spurs

Everton vs Tottenham – 1977 – Cover Page
The jovial Jim McGregor welcomes you to Goodison for Everton vs Spurs

 

Sensational work at Hull, European city of culture.

Hull City vs Nacional - 1972 - Cover Page  All the action from Boothferry Park as Hull take on Nacional of Uruguay

Hull City vs Nacional – 1972 – Cover Page
All the action from Boothferry Park as Hull take on Nacional of Uruguay

 

 

Ready…? Aberdeen can keep Tricia. Norwich City’s cover girl is living angel HRH The Duchess of Kent, who is wearing shin pads, boots and replica shorts (all just out of frame).

Norwich City vs Manchester City - 1987

Norwich City vs Manchester City – 1987

 

An early spot of facial pixelation in St Mirren.

St Mirren vs Montrose - 1977

St Mirren vs Montrose – 1977

 

The Portsmouth ‘Journal‘.

ortsmouth vs Blackburn Rovers - 1968

ortsmouth vs Blackburn Rovers – 1968

 

Late 1960s brutalism from 21st Century brutalists Stoke City.

Stoke City vs Asante Kotoko - 1969

Stoke City vs Asante Kotoko – 1969

 

Leeds United vs Ajax - Silver Jubilee Match - 1977

Leeds United vs Ajax – Silver Jubilee Match – 1977

 

We’re not saying the team weren’t lookers, just that the kit fitted the women better and the drawing brings out the colour in the lads’ cheeks.

Clyde vs Rangers - 1988 - Cover Page

Clyde vs Rangers – 1988 – Cover Page

 

Ann Sharp does ‘popagility’ – which in 1984 meant stretching your limbs to George Michael’s Careless Whisper and Madonna’s Like A Virgin.

Port Vale vs Bury - 1984

Port Vale vs Bury – 1984

 

In 1981, crisp £1 notes were always presented in attache cases.

Ipswich Town vs Manchester City - 1981 - Cover Page  John Wark, a wee woman, and special guest BA Robertson welcome Citeh to Portman Road in 1981

Ipswich Town vs Manchester City – 1981 – Cover Page
John Wark, a wee woman, and special guest BA Robertson welcome Citeh to Portman Road in 1981

 

Spot the ball.

West Bromwich Albion vs Wigan Athletic - 1984 - Cover Page  Gary Robson and friends welcome you to the Hawthorns as West Brom face Wigan in 1984

West Bromwich Albion vs Wigan Athletic – 1984 – Cover Page
Gary Robson and friends welcome you to the Hawthorns as West Brom face Wigan in 1984

 

And finally…

Aldershot vs Colchester United - 1971 - Cover Page  We're off to the Recreation Ground as Aldershot take on Colchester in 1971

Aldershot vs Colchester United – 1971 – Cover Page
We’re off to the Recreation Ground as Aldershot take on Colchester in 1971

 

Spotter: Miles McClagan