In the course of a normal season, a club playing say fifteen home fixtures will produce fifteen match programmes and life for the programme collector is very easy. Occasionally along comes a postponed or re-arranged fixture to complicate matters. Perhaps the club will just re-hash the programme printed for the original date, perhaps not. Sometimes a game takes place at relatively short notice and there is no time to print a programme, so the supporters receive only a typed team-sheet. Towards the end of the 1997 season Rovers tried something different, and decided to print one programme that would cover two home fixtures. It was a novel idea, implemented I suspect as a cost-cutting measure, and was not something which caught on because the club never did it again. This publication, called “Going Forward”, therefore has a certain rarity value.
The two games in question were against Hull K.R. and York and both games were part of the Divisional Premiership which ran after the end of that league season. In the group stages each club played eight matches, Rovers lost the first of these two fixtures to Hull K.R. 20-30 on the Wednesday night, but then thumped York 70-12 on the Sunday. We eventually qualified for the quarter-finals at the expense of Hull K.R, and faced Huddersfield. It was not a format that had captured the imagination of the fans, but Huddersfield took it seriously as, after beating us, they went on to win it, which in turn bizarrely earned them a Super League spot when Paris St. Germain went bankrupt. The crazy world of rugby league.
The programme itself is A5 size and cost £1.50. It has 32 pages with full colour pictures from both sets of opponents; Damien Ball of York and the evergreen Stanley Gene of Hull KR. Head coach Steve Sims has his say, there’s an interesting interview with Matt Lambert on his globetrotting rugby career, and another with winger Paul Gleadhill. For those of us who enjoy a good moan about the match officials there is a curious piece from Chris Westwood on the infamous Aussie referee of the early 1960s D’Arcy Lawler. An all round good read in fact.
During 2009 and 2010 a number of Co-operative Championship clubs discontinued producing match programmes in favour of a generic league-wide magazine called “Game On”. Introduced largely as a cost-cutting measure, it was an interesting solution to the problem of declining sales. But it never caught on, and to be honest, this lifelong traditional club programme fan was not sad at its demise.