Unique Programmes: Blackburn in FA Cup

Pre-war football programmes have always been highly sought after, with certain clubs issues being harder to obtain than others. One such club is Blackburn Rovers. The example shown here was printed for a FA Cup fourth round match with Liverpool played on 26th January 1935.

Liverpool had been drawn away at Ewood Park following a 6-2 third round victory over Yeovil & Petters. Blackburn produced a pocket sized 20 page programme.  The cover is typical of programme issues of this period, with an attractive header together with a large advert. Apart from the blue cover, the remainder of the issue has black print on white paper.

Pages 3 and 4 have Editorial comments, which include the usual welcome to the visiting side. It also discusses Blackburn’s third round victory over Middlesbrough after a replay. It mentions that having found out the fourth round draw, Liverpool’s players and officials attended the replay at Ewood Park to size up whom they would be facing in the next round.

As I have mentioned before, one of the joys of programme collecting is that it gives a great insight into life at that time. This is illustrated by the description of both teams preparation for the big game, with both Blackburn and Liverpool spending the week leading up to it away. Blackburn went to Cleveleys Hydro, sharing quarters with Leicester City (but, as the programme emphasises, not sharing any trade secrets with their fellow footballers). Liverpool went to Harrogate from where they travelled to Ewood.

The programme also comments on past meeting between the two sides, Liverpool had already completed the league double over Rovers that season with two 2-0 victories. There are also pen pictures of the visiting team. 

Page 11 has the line ups in squad formation. The remaining pages contain adverts, league tables, the half-time score board and a cartoon of Rover’s Jack Milne. An appropriate choice as it was he who scored the only goal of the match. Blackburn’s reward was an away draw against Birmingham City, which they lost 2-1.

Perhaps one reason for the scarcity of Blackburn’s pre-war programmes can be explained by their low crowds, and therefore probable low print runs. In the 1934-35 season their average league crowd was 13,166. This makes the attendance for the Liverpool cup match more remarkable as it attracted nearly four times this average as 49,546 paid to see the game. This included many supporters who had made the trip across form Liverpool. Newspaper reports of the match comment that by the Wednesday before the game five trains had already been booked, and by the time of the match three more had been added.

As for value this issue, in good condition, would fetch around £150+.

For more information on Liverpool programmes and memorabilia please send 2 x first class stamps for the latest bulletin of the Liverpool Programme Collectors Club.  This contains many articles on past issues and news on current season programmes. The club has been established for over 17 years and exists to promote the enhancement of the hobby and the sharing of information on Liverpool memorabilia between collectors. Send to: Keith Stanton, 4 Hillview Gardens, Woolton, Liverpool, L25 7XE  (0151 42 86 087)

© Robin Gowers,

Article links



We've got all the results from official games, appearance stats, goal stats and basically every conceivable statistic from 1892 to the present, every single line-up and substitutions!