One Shilling: The Football Programme Design Revolution by Matt Caldwell and Alan Dein – Review

One Shilling The Football Programme Design Revolution of 1965-85 book review (1)

By Karl Hornsey

The football programme has been part of the matchday experience for millions of people from the day they first went to a game, and thankfully that still continues even if, as with so many things in modern football, the landscape has changed dramatically. The days of religiously picking up a programme for a few pence are gone, and printing costs and lifestyle changes have seen many clubs either not bother with them any more, or charge an absolute fortune for the privilege of reading something that can be found online.

But there is hope. As the taste for vintage and retro products and a return to a bygone age emerges, so the appreciation of football programmes seems to be on the rise. And this publication by designer Matt Caldwell and historian Alan Dein is a work of art that deserves to be on the coffee table of any discerning football fan – or lover of all things artistic.

While, in general, this is a celebration of how the somewhat formulaic, and tried and tested matchday programme was brought kicking and screaming into the modern world with a whole new take on the subject, it’s also specifically an homage to John Elvin, who revolutionised the design of the humble football programme. His work in the late 1960s and early ‘70s is the focal point of this book and it features so many stunning and visually daring designs that even those without an interest in football would find this fascinating.

One Shilling The Football Programme Design Revolution of 1965-85 book review (2)“Fabulous”

Elvin’s use of colour, huge fonts and imaginative photography rode roughshod over tradition and created a cult that lasts to this very day. Caldwell and Dein capture this wonderfully, placing the designs in the context of the time, examining how social issues helped to stimulate new ideas and the impact of England’s 1966 World Cup triumph.

While Elvin’s designs at Coventry City thrilled some, they naturally horrified others who preferred the more traditional approach, but there’s no doubt that today they’re looked back on with fond reverence. This book features other key designers of the era, as well as copies of covers from more than 40 clubs, as the trend spread around the professional game.

While it’s maybe a little optimistic to ever imagine the football programme returning to the prominence of its heyday, this is a fabulous work that should help to spark many an imagination, and give budding designers out there the inspiration to create their own versions of Elvin’s masterpieces.

‘One Shilling: The Football Programme Design Revolution’ by Matt Caldwell and Alan Dein is published by Pitch Publishing


Leave a reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.