Sunday, 18 March 2012

FA Cup Final Programme, 1980

A quick skim through the Official Souvenir Programme of the 1980 FA Cup Final shows that it was a mixed bag of trivia, some of it dry, some of it brilliantly evocative.

Inside, we first see the Timetable and Programme of Events for May 10th 1980. The running order for the biggest afternoon in English football had a familiar feel; marching regimental bands at 1.10pm, the marching band of Kansas State University at 1.35, more from the regimental bands of the Guards' Division at 2.30 and again at half time, Abide With Me at 2.45 and The Duke of Duchess of Kent shaking hands with the players at 2.50. So far, so regimented.

On page 5, we get a word from Ted Croker, FA Secretary, who speaks of the growing trend for Second Division clubs to do well in the FA Cup Final (Sunderland and Southampton being recent examples at the time). This was a good omen for West Ham although, as Croker said, Arsenal "seemed to have reserved a permanent place at Wembley. This will be the club's third Wembley Final in succession – a record…" He signed off by telling readers that the Final would "be seen on TV in over 60 countries" and by hundreds of millions of people. It would probably have been more were it not for all those regimental marching bands showing up every five minutes.

Further inside the programme, there are detailed club profiles on Arsenal and West Ham along with full colour pictures of the two teams, in case you'd forgotten what they looked like. Furthermore, there are double-page profiles of the two teams to give some detail on the playing staff in each case. We're told that "in August 1977, [Pat Jennings] joined Arsenal from neighbours Tottenham Hotspur. Would Spurs have let him go for £45,000 if they had known he would play for their greatest rivals at Wembley in 1978, 1979 and 1980?" Probably not, but there again if my aunt had balls, would she be my uncle? The answer to both questions is likely to be the same.

The FA Cup Final programme of 1980 serves as much as a condensed reference book as any kind of souvenir. There are pages devoted to previous Cup Final results, Cup Facts ('compiled by Jack Rollin') and Goals Galore ('Scoring feats from past FA Cup Finals') but aside from the statistics and the plentiful colour action photos of both teams, the real charm can found in the filler material. Here, we get a perfect snapshot of the era through the adverts dotted willy-nilly throughout.

There's one for the Sunday Mirror featuring "Kevin Keegan of England and Hamburg – soon Southampton" who was writing a column for the weekend tabloid at the time. Keegan also cropped up in a small advert for Mitre Sports, alongside another for Adidas bearing a tiny caption telling us that Umbro International (Footwear) Ltd were "the sole UK distributors of Adidas products." Quite a sporting gesture on the part of the future England kit suppliers in more ways than one.

Elsewhere, there's an advert for the Victor range of men's toiletries - a useful reference for anyone wondering whether Brut 33 was the low point in male grooming products at the start of the 1980's. Another advertises Skol, surely as ubiquitous in pubs back then as pictures of topless models on Big D peanut dispensers and a predilection for cirrhosis of the liver and lung cancer among the regulars.

But for those wanting a lasting memory of a wonderful day at the FA Cup Final, page 48 of the programme was where it was all happening. There it was possible to choose your commemorative gift to remind you of the big day from a range of Wembley branded products. Blue and white wrist band? Certainly – that'll be 90p. How about a "slide card" as a pocket size-record of all FA Cup Final matches since 1872? No problem – 55p.

And if the 'Italian-made sports bag' didn't take your fancy (despite being made from 'durable nylon - £4.99') there was always the opposite page featuring 8mm soccer home movies. Two hundred feet of celluloid bliss – some even with sound – from just £8.30. What more could a football fan want? Perhaps a ticket to the upcoming Harlem Globetrotters game, but for that you'd need to contact the Wembley Box Office.

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