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Portsmouth 1972 - the Biggest programme ever.

Every so often a football club tries to make a radical change to its match day programme. In the early 1960’s a number of clubs experimented with small, square, issues. These passed the ‘pocket’ test but they didn’t last longer than a couple of years.

The mid-70’s saw a small minority try a newspaper format - notably Derby County and Oldham Athletic - but this was always doomed to failure.

But here to start the 1972/73 season Portsmouth produced probably the largest football programme ever (unless you know better?). The design is bold and not unattractive but at 30 x 21 cm (11 3/4 x 8 1/4”) what on earth do you do with it!

The chairman’s notes go some way to explaining the rationale beginning New Players- New Playing Strip - New Junior Team - New Journal - new ideas on many subjects. But the changing of blue shorts to white was a marginal adjustment and if it was an attempt to end 4 seasons of lower table mediocrity it failed, with that trend continuing for another 3 seasons before Portsmouth slipped from Division 2 to 3.

Early season optimism after Pompey overturned a half time 1 goal deficit to beat Cardiff City 3-1 (Lewis, Piper and Reynolds) can be seen in perspective as City was one of the few teams that finished lower at the end of the season.

However, although I’ve dissed this brave attempt to breach the envelope there are some redeeming features that you’ll be able to see in the images below.

I’ve always been a sucker for cartoons and Pompey have covered a whole page with a ‘Career Strip’ for Albert McCann. It’s unusual and, despite the illustrator’s style not being entirely to my taste, I think it works.

Then we have a photographic quiz to identify Portsmouth and Cardiff players from 2 action shots. This suits the enlarged page size.

There is also a superb article ‘What to look for in a keeper’ that gives 10 necessary attributes and then an illustrated diagnosis relating to Pat Jennings.

Finally the teams are shown on the back although, disappointingly, covering only half of the page which, given the size, means it looks like an afterthought.

By the way, take a look at the second strip that Cardiff used. Mauve shirts, Yellow shorts!!!

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