Fixture: North West Counties Football League (NWCFL) – First Division North
Date: Saturday 09 October 2021
Teams: Chadderton v St Helens Town
Venue: The Falcon Fire Stadium
Result: Chadderton (3) – (2) St Helens Town
Programme cost: Free (On-line)
As FBR has reflected in other reviews, COVID’s impact on football has seen some clubs opt for digital programmes. However, there will be other reasons for clubs going down this route. In some cases it is a lack of sales, others the financial cost (i.e. unprofitable) or it can also be down to the lack of volunteers willing to take on the task of programme editor and all that it entails.
Chadderton FC, is just over a mile west of Oldham, and are one such club who have gone down the on-line path. Their programme from the league fixture against St Helens Town was free to download from the club website. One of the advantages of digital versions, is that the number of pages doesn’t have to stick to the multiples of 4 that A5 printed versions need to be, so if content is a struggle the resulting PDF can be any number. And as it turned out Chadderton produced a 15 page edition on this occasion.
The cover is an unusual but striking image featuring one of the local cotton mills in a vintage black and white look, with the club badge and match details present but not interrupting the picture of the Grade II Listed building Chadderton mill. Of the remaining 14 pages, five are given over to adverts, with three of those mandated by the NWCFL, including one offering COVID guidelines, a shared page promoting the league website and Official Goalkeeping Partner of the NWCFL, Reusch, and finally, the league’s Charity Partner, State of Mind. The other two pages of adverts are given over to Club Sponsors.
Of the content, page 3 details all the Club Information in terms of directory of staff, social media addresses and honours. Page 4 is given over to a ‘Code of Conduct for Spectators’ as part of The FA’s Respect campaign, which covers not just first-team games, but those also of Chadderton FC Youth team. Three pages (5, 6 & 7) are then provided for the games visitors St Helens Town, printed in blue and white (a nice touch) to reflect that the Town will play in those colours today. The first of the three pages provides some basic information such as club badge, date founded, ground details, recent form and honours. This is followed by two pages on the club’s history, which is useful content for anyone not familiar with St Helens Town. Some interesting facts to emerge, include that Manchester City legendary goalkeeper Bert Trautmann, played for the club between 1948 and 1949 and in 1986-87 Town lifted the FA Vase at the old Wembley beating Warrington Town 3-2. Page 8 is a message from Committee Member Heath Ravey under the banner of ‘The Boardroom’ who welcomes the visitors and makes reference to the town’s rugby league side who were due in action that evening in the Super League Grand Final. Ravey also reflects on the teams midweek defeat in The Frank Hannah Manchester FA Premier Cup to Northern Premier League outfit Ashton United and expresses his pride at the efforts of a young Chadderton side against opposition three leagues above. Page 10 shows the league table with Chadderton just outside the promotion play-off spots, with visitors St Helens Town just off of the bottom and in one of the two relegation slots. After a page given over to iGrafix who create the programme along with Head of Media of Communications, Ryan Booth, there is a page for player sponsorship, with the back page for the team line-ups. This features both club badges, but only lists the home squad, with an image of a pitch. This highlights one of the problems with a digital version, in that with a physical copy spectators could write in the name of those playing. It may be that on the day a teamsheet is available to fans, which negates this problem. The other FBR quibble with on-line programmes is that they aren’t easy to read on a mobile phone, with them having to be viewed on a lap-top or large table to be readable.
FBR are unashamedly old school in their preference of the printed programme but does understand why clubs opt for the digital version. Overall, it has a vibrant design and decent layout, but the predominant use of capitals throughout the majority of articles does jar a little. Ultimately though Chadderton are providing a free download to anyone that wants one, which is to be applauded and provides the essentials in terms of information.