Friday, September 02, 2011


Football Programmes In South East Asian Football

For many football fans around the world the game is so much more than just watching players kicking a ball around a muddy field for 90 minutes. There are so many sub cultures identified with the game that, when added together, combine to make football what it is; the world’s greatest spectacle.

The easiest for young fans to get involved in is Programme collecting. Football matches in England have been producing a matchday programme for almost a century now. Beginning as single team sheets, the kind that are available in the VIP stand at SLeague games but, mysteriously, not widely available for the fans, they just listed both starting XIs as well as the kick off time and match officials so fans would know the name of the ref or linesman they were booing.

Over the years programmes became more and more complex and expensive. The first time I went to an Arsenal home game the programme, a 16 page black and white affair, cost 5p. Fans today hand over 3 GBP, which is more than the cost of admission at an SLeague game, for a full colour, glossy 84 page magazine with interviews, match action and a look at the opponents.

The beauty of a match day programme is its simplicity. I was at a recent Geylang United match and the club are to be credited for producing an eight page colour programme that keeps fans up to date with what’s going on at the club. Yes, Facebook and Twitter do the same to a certain extent but despite being called social media, the internet is often a solo activity. I used to take my programmes from Arsenal and Aldershot games to school and they would be passed round the canteen and the classroom while friends who supported other teams would show me theirs.

All the while it increased the club’s connections with their fans. Yes, the MC races through the line ups before kick off in the SLeague but nobody has those kind of memory retention skills to absorb 22 names spat out in less than two minutes. Hence, at Bedok Stadium, you would frequently see fans refer to their programme to find out who had done what and to whom on the field. With any meaningful media coverage all but absent the teamsheet or the programme becomes vital in creating a link between club and fan.

Programmes can also be worth money. Serious money. No while nobody is suggesting Geylang United v Albirex Niigata programme is going to ease your retirement it is worth bearing this in mind. The most expensive football programme, from the 1889 FA Cup Final, yes folks, there was football in England before the EPL was invented, was recently sold for about $SGD 42,000!

Credit then to clubs like Geylang United and Young Lions. Who knows, their efforts could spark an interest in programme collecting in Singapore, helping to spur an increased interest in one of the most exciting leagues in the region.

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