On programme

The match going experience is very important here at Shamrock Rovers.  Rovers have probably the best stadium facilities in the Airtricity League with nearly 6,000 covered seats with clear unobstructed views from each seat.  The sense of occasion on match day is heightened further with displays by the SRFC Ultras, events in the Glenmalure Suite such as May’s Evening with Johnny Giles or this season’s addition of Hooperman who entertains both young and young at heart on match day.  The match programme is also an essential part of the match going experience. 
The Shamrock Rovers programme has the typical things you will expect to see in a match programme if you are familiar with football in Ireland and Britain.  It will have the mix of manager’s notes, players interviews and profiles, something for the kids and a look back at previous encounters with the day’s opposition.  At Rovers the manager’s programme notes have at times ranged from the sublime and ridiculous (Damien Richardson) to the nonexistent (Pat Scully) so Michael O’Neill’s notes strike a happy medium. 

The programme at Rovers is not just used to extract another four euro from punters coming in the turnstile but the club does welcome this extra revenue.  The club invests a significant amount of money and time in the match programme.  With the move to Tallaght and the large attendances, it means that the match programme can return a nice profit to the club which last year was a tidy five figure sum.  The club is committed to producing a high quality full colour programme and the quality was recognised at last week’s Irish Programme Fair with Rovers picking up another Premier Division Programme of the Year Award. 

Fans have different relationships with the programme.  Some will grab a read before kick off, maybe at half time or save it for the LUAS trip home.  They may note carefully down the numbers of the players being read over the stadium public address.  Others will carefully pack the programme away to ensure it is in pristine condition.  If you go into the attic today of many Rovers fans, you wouldn’t be in for a big surprise to see several boxes containing old match programmes.  With the club shop now selling programme holders others will have them proudly on display on their bookshelves at home.

The importance of the match programme may have reduced somewhat over the years with the emergence of new technologies providing a range of services to get up to date news on happenings at the football club.  Rovers have an excellent website which is updated on a daily basis.  You can follow Rovers on Facebook to get the very latest news or you can get it texted to you on your mobile phone.  The unofficial SRFC Ultras Forum is where you can pick up the very latest gossip or Shamrock Rumours!  Back in Milltown, the programme was published, not by the club, but by the supporters club.  These days it is an official club production but shouldn’t be viewed as a Rovers Pravda publication.  The programme won’t be short of an opinion or two as it attempts to stimulate a debate over that half time slice of pizza or cup of coffee (all within the constraints of libel laws and the FAI’s participation agreement of course!).

Match programmes are a serious business especially judging by the price of some programmes on sale over eBay or at last week’s Irish Programme Fair with sales of some programmes in excess of 100 euro each for some historic games.  The Shamrock Rovers Heritage Trust had a stall at the event selling programmes from home games in Milltown, RDS and other Dublin venues in addition to the Tallaght based programmes.  The Trust also has an extensive collection of old Shamrock Rovers programmes some of which are also available to view online (http://www.shamrockrovers.ie/about/heritage/programme-archive).  This includes the programme from the European Cup match between Rovers and the famous Busby Babe Manchester United side in 1957.  This programme was part of the display on view during the evening with Johnny Giles. 

Maybe your four euro investment this evening could be worth a multiple of that in years to come.  So don’t roll up the programme on your way out of the game tonight and shove it into your back pocket, take care of it as it isn’t just a good read but could also be a good investment.  Enjoy the game and tonight’s match programme!

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