FeatureTop 10 rarest Liverpool matchday programmes

Published 26 minutes ago

On Liverpool FC's 130th birthday, we've picked out 10 of the most sought-after matchday programmes in the club's history.

Andy Marsden, author of Liverpool Football Programmes: The Definitive Collector's Guide, takes a look at some of the rarest issues to feature in his book.

All profits from his labour of love, which was shortlisted for Illustrated Sports Book Of The Year, will be donated to LFC Foundation. You can purchase the book here.

Read on to see the 10 matchday programmes he's chosen...

  • Liverpool v Rotherham Town, friendly – September 1, 1892
© Andy Marsden
© Andy Marsden

This is the first ever Liverpool football programme to be published. Tactical line-ups appear on the front cover. Adverts take up nearly a third of the issue. Special attention is given to the offside rule, definitions of specific terms e.g. the free-kick, and guidance to referees from the Lancashire League Handbook. 

Founder John Holding is pictured and described as 'a man of energy, determination, and honesty of purpose, and under his presidency the Liverpool Club is sure to prosper'. A list of honorary life members, a few notes and upcoming fixtures make up the rest of the programme.

As for the match, it finished 7-1, but check the record books and you find different goalscorers listed, depending on your resource. It is similar for the attendance, but nestled in Liverpool's next programme – the first ever Lancashire League match against opponents Higher Walton – is the answer: "The 2,000-odd spectators who did turn up" for this friendly match.

Unsurprisingly, this is one of the rarest and most sought-after Liverpool programmes. You can expect to pay many thousands of pounds and, given the age of the paper, you will be hard pushed to find one in excellent condition.

  • FC Nurnberg v Liverpool, friendly – May 24, 1953
© Andy Marsden
© Andy Marsden

Liverpool returned to tour North America in 1953, on the back of two successful trips in 1946 and 1948. 

Despite 20,000 copies of the programme being produced and available for free at the stadium, few now remain.

It is not uncommon for programmes from this and the other US tours to fetch high prices. Last year, a copy for the 1946 match with Baltimore Americans sold at auction for close to £1,000. And this American League Soccer News single sheet is no different.

Dundee v Liverpool, friendly – March 23, 1960

© Andy Marsden
© Andy Marsden

This should be billed the 'Battle of the Shanklys', Bob opposing Bill for the honours. The match marked the inauguration of the new floodlights. The only goal came from a Dundee corner, taken by Hugh Robertson. Bert Slater, in the Liverpool goal, caught the cross. In trying to clear upfield, he inadvertently took the ball back over the goalline.

This is one of the hardest programmes to obtain of any Liverpool friendlies across mainland Britain. Much of the programme is taken up with adverts and understandably the Shankly brothers feature heavily. 

  • Tatran Presov v Liverpool, friendly – May 21, 1961
© Andy Marsden
© Andy Marsden

The match with Tatran Presov, part of the club's tour of Czechoslovakia, was full of controversy. 

After Ian St John had been kicked twice by the Tatran winger Pavlovic, he raised his foot in retaliation. In doing so, he stubbed his toe in the ground, just in front of Pavlovic; however, the referee ordered him off. St John had earlier scored, only for Tatran to equalise. Rias stood next to Slater, the Liverpool 'keeper, just a yard from the goalline and was in an offside position. 

The programme folds out into eight pages and inside there's a special feature on Alojz Martincek, who two weeks earlier had scored six goals in his side's 8-1 league victory over Nitra. The goalscorer apparently came close to signing for Liverpool. The deal fell through when Czech officials refused to let him fly to England.

The programme is hardly ever seen; this copy is believed to have been brought back to Liverpool by Ronnie Moran. 

Everton v Liverpool, First Division – January 23, 1965

© Andy Marsden
© Andy Marsden

The scarcity of this programme may be due to the match being postponed, due to snow, 24 hours before the scheduled kick-off. The pitch was almost free from snow due to the thaw and Everton's underground wiring system, but the ground became a "quagmire", leaving the referee no choice but to call the game off.

To date, the only known copy of the programme can be found in The Everton Collection – "a compilation of football memorabilia related to the birth and development of Everton Football Club" – housed at the Liverpool Record Office.

Standard Liege v Liverpool, European Cup Winners' Cup second round, second leg – December 15, 1965

© Andy Marsden
© Andy Marsden

Many consider this to be in the top three of rarest programmes for Liverpool's European campaigns. You'll need to find several thousand pounds to prize a copy away from a fellow collector. 

In the eight-page programme, much is made of the "extraordinary" Anfield atmosphere, particularly with their constant shouts of "LI-VER- POOL" and thunderous applause. The "probable" teams are listed in 2-3-5 formation. Pages are devoted to the Reds' history, reviews by the Belgian press from the first-leg tie, along with complaints that one of Chris Lawler's goals shouldn't have stood.

As for the second leg, goals from Roger Hunt and St John saw Liverpool to victory in Belgium. 

  • Petrolul Ploiesti v Liverpool, European Cup first round, second leg – October 12, 1966
© Andy Marsden
© Andy Marsden

The programme had a very low print run, perhaps as few as 60. Paper quality in Romania at the time was poor and surviving copies tend to show signs of repair. 

The six-page gatefold issue welcomes all spectators, mentions the first leg and the sporting Anfield crowd, and asks the locals for plenty of vocal support. Squad lists, Liverpool's successes and the history of the European Cup make up the rest of the pages. 

You may see reproduced copies from time to time. They are easy to identify: the paper colour is bright white and of high quality. Some have even been produced on white card, others have a photographic paper feel to them. 

  • Trabzonspor v Liverpool, European Cup second round, first leg – October 20, 1976
© Andy Marsden
© Andy Marsden

Considered the 'holy grail' by many Liverpool programme collectors, its rarity is down to so few fans or journalists making the trip to Turkey. 

At the last count, only 19 copies are known to exist, one of which is in the LFC Museum. Two of the more recent copies to sell fetched £3,000 each for the lucky owners. 

As for the programme content, there are too many adverts, just a few paragraphs on Liverpool and only one page in English. 

A penalty for the hosts settled the first-leg tie. However, this was a minor blip as the Reds went on to win the European Cup for the first time. 

  • Thailand XI v Liverpool, friendly – June 10, 1983
© Andy Marsden
© Andy Marsden

The 1982-83 season finished with a two-match tour of the Far East. First, against Bulova in Hong Kong and then, five days later, a Thailand National XI side, described as "a local bank side" by the Liverpool Echo.

Just a brief press report notes a 3-0 win to Liverpool, with the goals coming from Alan Kennedy, Sammy Lee and Graeme Souness. This was Bob Paisley's last match in charge before handing over to Joe Fagan.

The 20-page programme is almost entirely written in Thai. Once past the welcomes and matchday timetable, you'll find player profiles. This is an exceptionally rare issue.

  • Derby County v Liverpool, First Division – March 23, 1991
© Andy Marsden
© Andy Marsden

Perhaps an editor's worst nightmare – a high-profile error in the programme. This was just the case when Liverpool visited the Baseball Ground back in March 1991. 

On the grey front cover 'Liverpool' had been misspelt: an extra 'o' inserted by mistake. Luckily the error was noticed in time. 

To avoid any doubt, the corrected cover was changed to white. None of the copies with the grey cover went on sale, and the majority were destroyed. However, a few copies escaped being pulped. 

Printing errors do happen in programmes – does this make them more valuable? Some do. Back in November 1979, The Anfield Review issue for the visit of Wolverhampton Wanderers saw the Liverpool red throughout the programme replaced with sky blue. This occurred to only a small printed batch. As with the Derby programme, the error was caught in time, though some of sky-blue variants have made it into Liverpool collections.

Published 26 minutes ago