Meet the Norwich City superfan who owns every matchday programme since 1971
PUBLISHED: 13:40 03 April 2017 | UPDATED: 13:59 03 April 2017
Archant Norfolk 2017
Canaries columnist Spud Thornhill owns the matchday programme of every competitive Norwich City match, home and away, since August 1971. Today he tells us what it takes to become a committed Canaries collector.
Back in my young single days when it was the international break with no Norwich City games, I would study the fixture list in what is now League One and Two to see what grounds I could tick off in my quest to complete the 92 grounds.
Journeys to Shrewsbury & Morecambe and many more have been handily ticked off due to international breaks.
These days, being married and moving into a new home last year, my international breaks are a convenient chance to spend time working on the house. This weekend I’m going to spend my time organising what I call my ‘Spud Room’ or what most men would call their man cave.
My Spud Room, is my escape. I’m planning to make it into a shrine to the main thing in my life. Football, or more importantly Norwich City.
In my room, I have many books that I have gathered over the years. From Canary Citizen to Norwich City quiz books. I also have a lot of Norwich DVDs and videos. Apart from match videos the club use to bring out for every home game in the late 80s and early 90s, I believe I’ve got all of them. One day I will transfer the videos to DVD.
I’ve also got my football shirts I bought over the years. My only regret is that I don’t have my prized 84/85 Milk Cup winning season white away kit. I got it for my 10th birthday and I gave it to my younger cousin, which sadly ended up in a charity shop. I may not be able to fit in it now, but boy would I cherish it now if I still had it. I’ve still got the Asics kit plus the classic Riberio kits we had in 92-94; home, away & the European one. And no I’m not selling.
Another favourite I’ve got in there are my players match worn shirts. Four of them. Mud included. But my main collection, is my big collection of Norwich City programmes. I’ve got every programme from every competitive game home and away since August 1971.
When I was a kid, I just wanted anything to do with football. Before I had bought my first season ticket in 1988, I was given probably £5 as pocket money. I had enough money to get in, bus fair home, sweets and most importantly the match programme.
I started getting programmes from the 1984/85 season I believe. The club shop was on the end of the old main stand. They would occasionally have away ones. So it was then the collection was really started.
As a nine-year-old, I didn’t fully appreciate the importance of the programme. I would get them signed by the players I would meet in the car park before the game, then shove the programme into my pocket as I stood on the Barclay terrace.
I still remember sitting outside the entrance of the Barclay terrace reading the programme waiting to hear that sound of the wooden door being opened. By the time the gateman had asked for my money, I knew what manager Ken Brown and skipper Dave Watson had to say, by reading their programme notes whilst I waited.
By the end of the match, the mint condition had gone. I must confess, since I’ve got older I have replaced the more damaged ones for better condition ones.
Over the years, I’ve met people who when they hear I collect programmes have, more often than not given me many programmes. And by the time I was in my mid-teens I had a huge collection of programmes. Mainly Norwich City ones.
By the 1988/89 season, my first as a season ticket holder, I was getting serious with my programme collection. I was starting to find in the latest Shoot or Match magazine adverts from programme dealers.
My mum encouraged me to get involved with trying to seek out some programmes. My main concern was really Norwich City ones.
I was now starting to take a lot of pride in them. I would take a bag to avoid damaging the programme. These days, I get my programme first thing in the morning, whilst at away games I go to I take a jiffy envelope. The jiffy envelope is just as important a part of the away day as the match ticket.
When I don’t go to away games, my good friend James Woodrow would get my match programme for me. James, who if you don’t know him, knows the importance of keeping the programme in mint condition. And I’m sure he goes to great lengths as I do, to keep the programmes mint.
This season has seen a massive improvement in City’s match programme compared to last season. I believe we may win awards. Some great stuff, from a lot of fans’ opinions to looking at local football.
Filling in the gaps
About five years ago, I realised I was missing about five or six programmes home and away since my first Norwich game in August 1982.
I started my quest by going through all the programmes listing which ones were missing before going on my quest to completing them.
Suddenly I was on eBay and before I knew it, I had every programme from every Norwich game from every competitive game since August 1982.
It didn’t stop there. I realised I had a lot of programmes home and away going back to the start of the 1971/72 season. I was born in May 1975.
A few days after the season had finished, I thought let’s go and try to get every programme since the start of 1975/76.
More often not, they were fairly easy to get. It would be the odd one like Exeter or Wrexham in the League Cup that would be more difficult. But before I knew it I had every programme. But I didn’t stop there. Before I knew it I had every programme going back to start of 1971/72.
I thought about going even further back. But as I don’t have as many as I would like before 1971, I thought it would be an idea to stop buying them before I have to think about getting a second mortgage. But if there is anyone thinking of parting with any programmes from before 1971, I know of a good home!
I am missing some programmes from some friendly matches since 1971. Maybe one day I’ll aim to get every one of them.
I have many prized programmes. From cup finals and promotion games to our European games.
Sadly, our game in Milan v Inter I do not have a match programme for. Sadly back then, many Italian clubs didn’t do match programmes. No match programmes, but I believe an eight-page match preview was given to the journalists and a few supporters. Unfortunately in my quest for it, I have been unable to get it.
So once the Spud Room is complete, I can sit back reading one of those programmes as i reminisce of old games in the past. As I read what past managers or captains such as Dave Stringer or Ian Butterworth might have been saying in the programme notes in the late 80s or 90s.