At one of our most recent home games (roughly 30-years ago!), I had the misfortune to be sitting close to that great vacuum cleaner of spare cash, Martin Bellamy, and I was soon shelling out for tickets for this, air-fresheners for that, key fobs for the other etc. etc. I foolishly let my mad spending-spree get the better of me and purchased 3 x Klondikes and a programme with the last £5.50 cash I had. I invariably don't buy a programme, but was caught up with the fervour of feeling I was single-handedly funding the Poppies.
The programme was a good, thorough read. No doubt. And if the winning Klondike number drawn that day wasn't the next number after the ones I'd bought, I'd have left it at that. But it was. So I won't.
Is Paul actually to blame for my not winning the Klondike? In reality, I accept, probably not. But, someone has to be blamed, and rather than blame myself for not buying that fourth ticket, I'd rather blame him. Far more therapeutic.
I can trace my antipathy to the humble football programme to one of the defining periods of my younger days - standing at the various entrances to Rockingham Road, back in the 1990's trying to sell copies of PATGOD. Although, these days, the original run of PATGOD issues are generally considered to be in the Top Ten ever uses of the printing press, back then, trying to sell them was a thankless task.
Some people who helped us with this job were natural salesmen. Dave Tailby, for example used personal knowledge of everyone who attended games (always impressive with gates of over 1500!) and cuffs to the side of the head to rack up the sales. The rest of us, unfortunately had to rely on shifting uneasily from foot to foot, mumbling, "...fanzine..." whenever someone walked past.
And then. The great kick in the teeth came. You are about to make a sale and the punter shrinks back in complete horror,
"You mean it's not the programme?"
"No", you patiently explain for the thousandth time, "No, it's a fanzine. Funny articles. Hilarious match reports about nil-nil draws. Childish cartoons. Poorly photocopied photographs."
"What? No Teamsheet? Or League Table? Or Results?", asks the rapidly retreating former would-be customer.
"No. No teamsheets, league table, or results" You admit. And your souls shrivels a fraction more.
Fast forward almost thirty years and I'm buying a programme from a pretty young thing away at Biggleswade. I didn't mean to. I originally wanted to buy a pint, but they only had one person serving, and I didn't fancy a hour's wait for a drink. I then wanted to buy raffle tickets, but they hadn't been brought out into the ground at that point.
So, looking for any way to spend the fiver in my hand, I purchased a matchday programme. And then read it from cover to cover in 10 seconds flat. And the bloody thing didn't have a Teamsheet (just a long list of players). Or a League Table. Or Results. Mmmm.
It made we wonder, if this was an acceptable publication at this level, why on earth Paul Cooke wastes his time assembling his hefty Poppies programme. If he didn't, I wouldn't very occasionally buy it. Then I wouldn't have missed out on two hundred quid. Unlike Gary Bloody Graham who won it.
How much did you pay for this programme?
I bet I paid more!