Tony Collins - The Rangers Programme Collector
Collecting Scottish Football Programmes Since 1981
BY FRASER CAIRNS
Tony Collins is a Rangers supporter who has collected programmes since he started going to Ibrox in 1981. Since then he has grown his collection by managing to acquire programmes from before he started going and adding to that as he continues to follow Rangers across the country.
His collection caught my eye when I noticed that he often responded to the Twitter account “On This Rangers Day” with the scans from his old programmes. I asked Tony if he’d answer a few of my questions and he kindly agreed.
Hello Tony and thank you for your time. Before we get to the programmes, what are your earliest memories supporting Rangers?
My first match was in 1981 when my Dad took me to Rangers v Hibs at Ibrox. We won 3-0!! We were really poor then, but we did win the occasional League Cup, and Scottish Cup. My first Cup Final was when we played Aberdeen in 1983. It was my birthday and we got beat 1-0! In fact we have been beat on my birthday everyday I have been alive (including cup finals to Dundee United and Hibs), but we did manage to beat St. Johnstone last season – so hopefully that is the jinx lifted!
In an interview with BBC Alba in 2010, you said that you have managed to collect every home programme from 1977 onwards. Is this a record that is still intact?
It is, yes. I have had a season ticket since 1987 and I very rarely miss a home game. If I can’t make it, I will ask someone to collect one for me. I got married in Italy in 2005, and I missed the Champions League match v Porto.
That leads me onto my next question. What measures do you take to make sure that you never miss a programme?
Believe it or not there is a strong collectors community within the Gers support. A few years ago myself and my mate Mark were helping each other out with programmes – in the climb up through the divisions we always picked up a programme if we went to an away game for each other, or got someone to help us out. Over time we got in touch with some other collectors and over the last couple of years Facebook groups have been created and we now meet up at Ibrox pre-match to fill in the gaps in the collection. If you go to Copland House before a game you will see a small industry in motion with people handing over the purchases that have been made on the facebook groups! Ebay is always a good source for missing programmes too, although the prices can be extreme at times! Also the collectors in the groups will collect just about anything – strips, ticket stubs, posters, pennants, Corinthian figures… I generally just stick with programmes!
So you don't really collect any other Rangers memorabilia?
Not really – I have a few bits and bobs but I mainly concentrate on the programmes. Saying that I have badges, posters, DVD’s, autographed balls, mugs, glasses, etc… all scattered around the house!!
For many years, Rangers fans have discussed the idea of the club having a museum to provide a better display for all the memorabilia. My guess is that you will have a better collection of programmes than Rangers do! Do you think that this is the case and would you be willing to contribute some of your collection if a museum was ever created?
It is a thing that many of us have discussed over time. We have offered our services many times to Rangers, but until space is created for such a museum we will just need to hold on to them. I have been to many club museums over the years, and although there is plenty of memorabilia they don’t normally show run of the mill programmes – mainly cup finals, important games, etc. But the offer is there if they want to have the programmes on display.
Do you have a favourite era in which you thought programmes were particularly good in terms of content and/or aesthetics?
I think the current programme is very good with very interesting articles. Last years were very good as the covers were generally in a different retro style every match, and they were also in A5 size. They were also like little books, rather than magazines, as they had a spine which when laid flat you could see the opponent and the date.
Are you close to completing a tour of the 42 stadiums in the SPFL league set up? If not, what grounds have you not been to?
I haven’t been to Stranraer, Berwick, Annan and Ross County – the furthest away ones!!! There are a couple I have been to, just in passing but not actually at a game – Elgin, Edinburgh City, and Cowdenbeath. When Rangers were in the lower divisions it gave many Gers fans a chance to go to grounds where we wouldn’t get to visit – Stenhousemuir, Montrose, Brechin, Alloa, etc… some grounds had better memories than others!!! For example we played Stirling at Forthbank twice and only got one point of 6!
Check out his collection for yourself:
Tony was interviewed by for a feature on Rangers by BBC Alba a few years ago. Check it out! He appears on 6 minutes and 18 seconds: