Fixture: West Riding FA County Cup – First Round
Date: Wednesday 05 October 2021
Teams: Selby Town v Ossett United
Venue: The Fairfax Plant Hire Stadium
Result: 2-2 (Ossett United won 4-2 on penalties)
Programme cost: £1.50
Who would have thought that the global pandemic COVID would have an impact on that staple of the football matchday, the programme? Well with concerns about maintaining social distancing and people having to handle money etc. some league’s allowed their clubs to produce a digital version rather than a physical edition. This has been met with some resistance by fans, with reports of a number of groundhoppers refusing to attend a fixture if the home club only provides an on-line edition.
Another victim of COVID has been the playing of County Cup’s, with some cancelled during the last two or three seasons to free up midweek dates for league fixtures and the FA’s three competitions, FA Cup, Vase and Trophy. Over the years the County Cups have become pushed further and further down the lists of many of the senior clubs in the National League System, with teams from the National League often fielding no more than a Reserve/Academy XI simply to fulfill the fixture. This lack of enthusiasm for the competition has also been reflected in attendances for these games and so clubs have tended not to produce a programme, with a teamsheet often the only offering available and sometimes not even that.
Given this fairly gloomy picture of the state of the County Cup, it was therefore a treat to attend the West Riding FA County Cup First Round game at Selby Town. Not only did ‘The Robins’ produce a programme, but on a night of heavy and continuous rain, 152 hardly souls witnessed a cracker of a cup-tie. Selby, who play in the Northern Counties East League (NCEL) Division One, sit two divisions below Ossett United (Northern Premier League, East Division), but belied their position with a spirited display. Indeed ‘The Robins’ were twice ahead, only to be pegged back each time, with Ossett’s second equaliser coming in the final minutes. With no extra-time, the game went straight to penalties, with United winning 4-2 to take their place in the Second Round.
COVID meant that the last time the competition was completed was in 2018/19 with Ossett United in their first season, lifting the West Riding trophy after beating Guiseley 2-1 in front of a 1,118 crowd, and therefore still the holders after the loss of the 2019/20 and 2020/21 seasons.
So to the programme designed and printed by Footie Print & Digital, a 24 page colour offering on a good quality glossy paper with 10 pages given over to adverts including that of the league title sponsor Toolstation, ground and shirt sponsor of Selby, Fairfax Plant Hire and a very worthy cause in a local mental health support group, It’s Ok Not to be Okay – Talk Tonight Selby CIC.
The cover is in the club colours of Selby, red, featuring a colour photo of the players celebrating a goal and also features all the usual information you would expect to see such as club crest, date, opposition, competition and venue. It is topped with the Clubs nickname the ‘Robins’ with a nice design feature of the bird sitting amongst the letters and which is used again throughout the programme. The figure ‘08’ is also prominent on the cover, indicating the eighth programme of the season and adorned with a robin. Page 2 is given over to an advert to the club sponsor with page 3 containing a Welcome from Chairman David Haddock, offering his view on the teams disappointing two last league defeats, but balanced by positive news about the clubs expansion of their junior section. The page is completed by an “Officials & Information” block providing standard but useful details about the Yorkshire club.
Pages 4 and 5 are an informative and balanced match report from Phil Dearnley from Selby’s home defeat against Glasshoughton Welfare, which includes team line-ups, and scorers. Page 6 is an advert, with page 7 a useful one detailing the NCEL Division One table and forthcoming fixtures for October. The next two pages are given to more adverts before a two-page spread on the Selby squad with pen-pics and playing stats for the season to date. It’s a feature of non-league programmes that clubs often include pen-pics of the home side although is rarely seen in the programmes of Premier or Football League clubs.
The centre spread (pages 13-14) are the programme ‘classic’ of the results and fixtures grid, detailing date, opposition, competition, result, attendance and line-ups, with notes provided as to the various additional information such as bookings, sendings-off and scorers. One interesting thing to note from the grid is that in the NCEL Division One players can be sin-binned and ‘The Robins’ look like they have had a few! Where the fixtures are yet to be played, the space is cleverly utilised with a story and photo about the Under 9s participation in a recent tournament at Worksop Town.
Page 14 is an advert, with the return to content on page 15 with the scores from previous West Riding Cup encounters with Ossett United’s former parts, Albion and Town. The page though is dominated by Player Sponsor and Ground Sponsorship opportunities. A match preview and history of Ossett United feature on the double-page spread of 16 and 17 from Phil Dearnley, with the club badge and an advert for Selby’s next home game part of page 17. The next three pages are all given over to adverts, with page 21 detailing a condensed history of the club, which was formed in 1919, providing an informative read for visiting and neutral fans alike. Page 22 and 23 are adverts, with the back cover (page 24) once again the staple of programmes down the years, with the team squads, details of the match officials and next game, as well as the useful information that, “If tonight’s game ends in a draw after 90 minutes we will have a penalty shoot-out to decide the winner”.
Overall a decent programme and good value at £1.50 providing enough reading pre-game and at half-time, with all the essential information included. The use of the robin logo throughout is a nice touch, with useful detail like the clubs social media details in the page footer also welcomed. There were some minor typos, but they were so few that they didn’t detract from the read. Useful additions? Well, maybe the inclusion of pen-pics for the visitors and possibly an expansion of details around the previous County Cup games. However, if you find yourself at a game at Selby be sure to pick up a copy.
Website: Selby Town FC