Here’s the match programme printed for Featherstone v Dewsbury from August 1995. As a historical record of the spirit of the times this nearly seventeen year old magazine makes fascinating reading. It was of course the start of the ridiculous “Centenary Season” before the introduction of Super League the following summer and reading through the articles gives you an idea of how everyone was still struggling to come to terms with the whirlwind that had blown through the sport.
It’s a very smartly produced issue, named “Blue and White”, which cost £1.20. For your money you get 32 glossy pages of colour and plenty to read. Rovers had been producing a consistently high quality programme for a number of years and this had not changed despite our enforced demotion. The first page announced a significant new sponsor in RJB mining who would soon begin the construction of the Family Stand on the site of the old Bullock shed. In his weekly column, coach David Ward sounded as shocked as anyone about the summer events, but was determined to get Rovers back into the big time at the first attempt. Ian Clayton had two articles, both referring to his strong opposition to recent events and announcing a sequel to the popular “When Push Comes to Shove” book. Tony Fisher was featured as the coach of visitors Dewsbury, as was new signing Jon Sharp, making his home-coming after many years at Hull. Chris Westwood had an article reminiscing about Rovers Championship year of 1977, there were photos of our Wembley 83 win and Donald Hunt wrote an article summing up a lot of people’s feelings, those of pure and simple bewilderment. The overall impression the programme gives could be summed up as ‘at least our club still exists and is playing today’, a simple fact that had seemed unlikely months earlier.
One interesting piece that caught my eye was one of the earliest possible references to the “world wide web” and that the whole sport of rugby league had one page where fans could get together and exchange views. Given the thousands of RL sites available today on the internet, it’s always amusing to see how things have turned out.
Buying and selling old programmes is as popular nowadays as it ever was, and for fans looking to build up their collection, this and many other programmes from the 1980s and 1990s can be purchased for very little, probably less than the cover price at the time. As documents of the history of change, they make very good reading.