Q&AThe making of new 'This Is Anfield' book: "It shows how much the programme means to the club"
Following the recent release of 'This Is Anfield', we speak to Dave Cottrell and Andy Marsden about compiling a special tribute to the Reds' long-standing matchday programme.
The club’s official programme has been part of the Anfield experience since the very beginning, and This Is Anfield takes you on a fascinating journey from its origins to the present.
Compiled by Reds fan and programme collector Andy, sharing many unseen images from his comprehensive archive, and LFC programme editor Dave, it’s an evocative guide to an L4 institution.
Find out more from those who pieced the book together in our Q&A below – and order your copy here.
Firstly, can you tell us a little bit about how the book came about and what it entails?
Dave: At Reach Sport we’ve been proud to publish LFC’s official matchday programme for over a dozen years now, and certainly during that period there have been so many highs that we could’ve written an entire book solely about the programme in the modern era. But the stars aligned when Andy, who’d previously written programme-related pieces for us, produced his own book – a limited-edition, complete record of Liverpool programmes both home and away – a couple of years ago.
Andy’s book is brilliant but big – really, really big. If you dropped it on your foot you’d be on crutches for a month! We wanted something just as comprehensive, but a little more convenient and with the look and feel of our previous best-selling LFC books, which celebrated the 2020 Premier League triumph and the 2019 Champions League victory, and more recently Old Liverpool FC in Colour.
Andy’s personal archive and all-round knowledge (he should really go on Mastermind) proved indispensable as we tell the tale of the matchday programme decade by decade, weaving it into the history of Liverpool Football Club and the wider world. As we mention in the book’s introduction, it’s the ultimate time capsule for anyone with a love for LFC.
What was the inspiration behind wanting to document the history of the LFC programme?
Dave: Who hasn’t gone through a box full of old programmes, ones they’ve collected themselves or maybe been bequeathed by a relative or friend? So, on the one hand, while it feels right for the club to have this resource – an official illustrated history of the programme – on a more holistic level it’s also an incredibly evocative touchstone. I’ve already had people tell me it took them right back to certain eras and times in their lives, pointing to certain pages in the book and saying, ‘I remember that!’
That warmth and affinity for the programme is still there today – you need look no further than the huge volume of requests for our ‘Born & Red’ fan pages in each issue. Then there are all those people who go to the match and want a lasting memento, or simply want to keep building their collection – like Andy!
Andy: There are two reasons for me. As a club, Liverpool has been extremely successful across almost every decade. The one common denominator through all that history is the programme, which documents it so well. However, my own knowledge was sporadic at best for some decades. Through the research for my own book, that all changed. So that’s why I jumped at the chance to help with this book. To be able to show some of the inner pages of the programme and recapture that history for fans to see was so important. Secondly, and this goes hand in glove with Dave’s comments, there is the social history aspect as well. But not just the fans’ stories, look back at those advertisements and fashions in the programmes across the years.
The programme has told the story of LFC throughout history – did you feel it was important to recognise that and not let it be forgotten?
Dave: Yes, not just for those reasons I mentioned earlier – people’s personal memories – but also because the matchday programme has its own special heritage. It’s as old as the football club itself, produced for the very first fixtures way back in 1892 right through to the present day.
Anyone can search online for a specific moment in Anfield history – say, for example, the famous 7-0 win over Spurs in 1978 which is easy enough to find on YouTube – but it’s the programme which gives us a real sense of what LFC was like back then.
Andy: I absolutely agree with Dave on this one. We actually owe it to those that produced that first issue back in 1892. We have a quote in the book from them, ‘These programmes should not be thrown away, but should be preserved, as they will form an interesting record of the doings of both teams, and also contain a list of fixtures, etc., up to date.’
Nestled away in some of those pre-1970s issues are snippets of historic information that you don’t, to my knowledge, see anywhere else. We’ve tried to capture some of those in the book, though there wasn’t room for all of them.
There have been some memorable moments throughout the club’s history – is it hard to pick a favourite from your research?
Dave: I reckon Andy has a bit of a soft spot for pre-war programmes but for me, as a fan, it’s the stuff from my own childhood: late 1970s and early ’80s, going to the match with my dad, then my mates on the old standing Kop. I used to love the programme’s bumper ‘Souvenir Specials’ when the Reds were winning everything and there seemed to be a league-clinching match or a European Cup semi-final every season.
As the programme editor – a job I’ve been privileged to do for a while now – it’s the more recent stuff. The Liverpool v Chelsea programme of July 2020 naturally stands out, celebrating as it did the Premier League title triumph.
Our brief has always been to create the best possible read for the fans while reflecting the club’s values and traditions, but even before lockdown that year we’d been planning this final issue of the season because we knew it was likely to be a piece of club history. We wanted it to be special for all those fans who couldn’t be at Anfield because the match was behind-closed-doors, for the manager and his team obviously, and for all those at LFC who’d come so close to winning the league in the previous 30 years.
Initially it sold 60,000 copies, which itself was phenomenal for a printed programme in this day and age. Ultimately, after two more print runs it reached 120,000, which was absolutely staggering – the fastest-selling LFC programme of all time. It brought home not only the magnitude of that Liverpool team’s achievement but also its appeal around the world. I’m not sure if any other football club could have come close to that kind of figure.
Andy: Dave’s right, I do have a soft spot for the pre-war programmes but, to be honest, this has come about because of this book. I was very lucky to know two people – Phil Brough and Gerard Scully – who were able to share some of their collections with us. What stood out for me was, even in those early years, the wealth and depth of information in the matchday programme. And for many this, apart from the daily newspapers, was the only way supporters obtained club news – both on and off the pitch.
I stumbled across a programme for the Liverpool Senior Cup final from May 1942. Some matches during the war doubled up – in this case the result of the match counted as a North Region War League Match as well as the final. Due to the war effort, teams were able to use guest players from other clubs to help fulfil their fixtures. In this case, that afternoon, a player from Preston North End. Wearing the Liverpool No.4 shirt was a man that will resonate with Liverpool fans – William Shankly, his one and only appearance for the club.
When I was much younger, my love of Liverpool FC was always the season at the time – like Dave, I’m talking late ’70s and through the ’80s. What an honour it was to see all that success on the pitch and read all about it in those handy-sized programmes whilst standing on the Kop before the game.
And have you come across any stories/covers in your research of the programme that maybe don’t get the recognition deserved?
Dave: During the course of his research Andy picked out plenty of rarities from his collection which are in the book. But for me, in terms of people who deserve recognition, three names spring to mind: Ernest ‘Bee’ Edwards, who was the programme’s first recognised editor from the late 1930s, and Stan Liversedge, editor for 20 years until his retirement in 1991 – both of whom worked wonders without the help of modern technology; and Harry Ormesher, the club’s outstanding photographer in the 1970s and ’80s who – we discovered – went on to breed race horses, including a Derby winner in 2006!
Andy: I’d like to second what Dave has said about those past editors. But allow me to go a step further. Until I put this and my previous book together, I didn’t realise the amount of effort that goes into producing a programme from both the club and programme team just to get an issue ready for the next game. These guys are doing this issue after issue with very little time in between games. From editors, writers, researchers, and designers. Dave and his team are a perfect fit for the LFC matchday programme and long may it continue.
It must have been a labour of love for you both, but well worth it now you have the finished product…
Dave: Definitely, but it’s the reaction of other people which counts and so far it’s been extremely positive. Plus, it looks great on a bookshelf or coffee table!
Andy: It has been unbelievable for me to work with Dave throughout this process. I’ve been able to impart my knowledge, but likewise I’ve learnt an incredible amount from him. Whilst I found that very rewarding, it is the reaction from supporters when they see the book that matters most. From the direct comments and those on social media already, it sounds like we’ve hit the mark.
Finally, is there anything else you’d like to mention about the book?
Dave: That it shows how much the matchday programme means to the club and its fans, in terms of history and identity. We wanted it to be not just educational and informative but entertaining and engaging. We hope that’s the case.
Andy: Not even two World Wars or the COVID-19 pandemic stopped the matchday programme from being published. From humble beginnings – four pages – to the ones we see today. Every one of those programmes provides a look into past, the present and in some cases the future. We had a vast supply of material, so I trust we’ve picked out the best bits for the readers to see and enjoy.
- Order a copy of This Is Anfield here