Better still, I learnt - from the programme issued on 27 September, 1978, for the Ipswich v AZ 67 Alkmaar European Cup-Winners' Cup first round, second leg - that Arnold Muhren's full name was Arnoldus Johannus Hyacinthus Muhren. The rest of the questionnaire couldn't possibly live up to that piece of information and nor did it. Rather prosaically, Arnoldus Johannus Hyacinthus drove a Chrysler Simca, had no pets, liked Chinese food, thought Saturday Night Fever was the best film he'd seen that year and was very keen to meet John Lennon.
As for the Coventry City v Ipswich Town programme of Saturday, 7 October, 1978, an intriguing photograph featured the Coventry players, before the Leeds United fixture a fortnight earlier, throwing their "peace bands" to supporters. These were wrist bands devised by the Leeds player Paul Reaney, and the caption explained that "both teams tossed their wrist bands into the crowd as a gesture of goodwill and a silent appeal for an end to terrace violence."
Naturally, I scoured the background to see whether I could spot one fan lamping another in a scuffle over who got to keep Terry Yorath's peace band, but couldn't, alas. Still, it was exciting to discover that the modern charity band phenomenon is nothing new, and that it was all started 27 years ago by Paul Reaney. It's amazing what you can glean from old programmes.
Even the adverts have a mesmeric allure. Did you know that in 1978 you could buy a men's anorak in 100 per cent nylon, with a concealed hood, for only £13.99 at your caring, sharing Co-op in Carr St, Ipswich? No wonder it took me almost 45 minutes to get off that toilet. I'm surprised I'm not on it still.
Now, speaking of old football programmes, and indeed speaking of anoraks, there is a major football memorabilia fair tomorrow, between 10.30am and 4pm at the Hotel Russell in Russell Square, London WC1. I'm going if I can, if only to learn more about a hobby in which some 7,000 people in Britain invest their money and leisure time.
A couple of days ago I spoke to one of them, an engaging Scotsman called John Litster, who runs Programme Monthly magazine. He has a collection of 30,000 programmes, including one from every FA Cup final held at Wembley. The programme from the first Wembley Cup final, the famous "White Horse" final of 1923 between Bolton Wanderers and West Ham United, is worth about £1,000, he told me. "But it's a little like the Penny Black stamp," he added. "It's the most collectable because of its historical significance but it's not the most valuable. The 1924 [Newcastle United v Aston Villa] programme is worth about £8,500. Sadly, mine is minus its cover, so it's only worth about £2,000." I asked John whether there is a particular programme which, were it to turn up at the fair, would have collectors hugging each other with glee.
"Well," he said, "we don't think that programmes exist from the 1934 and 1938 World Cup finals, but you never know. Then there's the programme for the League match Manchester United were due to play against Wolves on the Saturday following the Munich disaster. The match was postponed and all the programmes were destroyed except for a dozen. Occasionally they come up for sale."
The Munich disaster looms large in the programme-collecting world. The programme for United's last domestic match before the crash - the famous 5-4 win at Highbury - is highly collectable but not uncommon, and only worth about £100. The same goes for the programme for United's post-Munich cup tie against Sheffield Wednesday, with a blank space where the players should have been listed. However, the programme from the 3-3 European Cup quarter-final draw against Red Star Belgrade on the eve of the crash, is worth 10 times as much.
It tends to be age, though, which yields real value. A programme for the 1915 FA Cup final between Sheffield United and Chelsea recently sold at auction for £14,000. The programme most meaningful to John Litster, by stark contrast, is worthless. It's from an Eastbourne United match in the old Athenian League in the mid-1960s, which his grandfather attended while on his annual summer holiday on the Sussex coast. "I'm reminded of him every time I see it," John said, wistfully. "It's the programme in my collection I would least like to part with." So, if there's anyone out there needing only a 40-year-old Eastbourne United programme to complete their collection, don't even bother making him an offer.
Who I like this week...
The anonymous 36-year-old Swede who won 122.9m Swedish kronor (about £9m) in the country's lottery last Saturday. Single and unemployed, he decided that what he would most like to do with his new fortune was to sign his favourite footballer, the Sweden forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic (pictured), for his favourite team. The only hitch is that Ibrahimovic currently plays for Juventus in Serie A, and this man supports Visby IF Gute, who play in front of crowds of 600 people on a good day - in the Swedish Third Division. Juve have not yet received a formal offer, so there's a chance that this unlikely benefactor might instead choose to bolster Visby's coaching staff. I can think of one Swede who might be tempted home by £9m.
And who I don't
A Hungarian promotions company called Trendsport organised a testimonial football match earlier this year between Real Madrid and a Hungarian All-Stars' XI, the proceeds of which were supposed to help pay the medical bills of the ailing Ferenc Puskas (pictured), the 78-year-old former Real star now in hospital in Budapest. The match took place on 14 August in front of a 40,000 crowd; Real, including David Beckham and Zinedine Zidane, won 3-1. Real's expenses reportedly amounted to £892,000; the Puskas family eventually received just £7,000. It appears that Real acted in good faith, and there is no evidence to suggest any wrongdoing on Trendsport's part. But something stinks, all the same. Maybe it's just modern football.Reuse content