Programme Culture May Be About To Take Off In Canada

I’m a collector. A pack rat I believe you call them here. Wasn’t a term I was familiar with till I married my wife, but she soon let me know it!

One of my loves is collecting football memorabilia and especially football programmes. I used to have a huge collection but when I moved over to Canada from Scotland, I felt it wise to get rid of a lot of them.

Well, some at least, obviously not my near complete East Fife home programme collection from the 1950s to present day, along with all my Fife aways from the 80’s onwards. Even though they just sit in their folders in a cabinet, I still like to have them near!

Football programmes (notice the proper spelling!) have changed almost beyond recognition in the last couple of decades. Many were forced to with the onset and popularity of the prolific fanzine industry that sprung up from the late 1980s in the UK, of which I was proudly a part and still am, albeit in web form. In fact, they’re not programmes anymore of course, they’re “matchday magazines”.

One of the things I miss when it comes to watching football in Vancouver is the lack of a proper gameday programme at the Caps. One that is different for every match. Still being involved with producing the East Fife one doesn’t help!

The programmes that the Caps have produced over the last couple of seasons have been excellent. Glossy, packed with info and pics and of course best of all, free. The problem with them though was that they were basically season-long ones and you were getting one/two over the course of the year.

The whole programme culture isn’t big here. I know and accept that. Online media has taken over so much of the written sports coverage in general that printed matter doesn’t have the same appeal to many people any more. Even newspapers suffer at the hands of all this 24 hour constant information stream that is available to us.

It wasn’t always like that in North America of course and I have a large collection of old NASL Kick Magazines to prove it. There was a demand for programmes before.

Of the local sports teams, the Vancouver Giants hockey and Vancouver Canadians baseball teams sell one-off season long programmes. The BC Lions sell a programme for every home game but the information inside only changes twice a season. It’s just the cover that changes for every game. Sad person that I am, I buy one for every game anyway! The Canucks were similar, changing it a little more over the season. This season though they’ve switched to game specific, fold out programmes, which is great. Doesn’t have much info in it and it’s basically a glorified poster, but hey, it’s free.

The Canucks way is the road that the Whitecaps have chosen to go this season. I was delighted on Sunday to see individual matchday programmes issued for this season. For those who haven’t seen them yet, they’re free foldout ones like the Canucks with squad listings, club news, ads and a player poster. Basic, but great to see. Baby steps and all that.

But could the football programme culture in Canada be about the change? If it is, then we’re going to have Toronto FC to thank for it!

TFC announced on Sunday that they are going to be issuing gameday programmes from this season, starting with their home opener against Philadelphia Union this Thursday.

Selling for $5, the 64 page programmes will be produced in a limited supply for each game but sound great. New content is promised for each issue and they sound like your good old traditional UK style programme with articles, history, news, stats and a lot more.

It’s what we need here in Canada, so a big well done to TFC from me for taking this step. Hopefully it’s one that the Caps will follow next season and other clubs around both the MLS and NASL.

I dunno, first real grass, now football programmes. Toronto FC are starting to turn into a proper football club. Scary!

Authored by: Michael McColl

There is 1 comment for this article
  1. Krammerhead at 21:37

    I still have all of my old Kick Magazines from the original (and real) NASL. As for Toronto becoming a proper football team? Bleh. They had to switch to grass and sell proper programmes, because they certainly can't win games!

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