THE world’s largest public collection of Rugby League programmes continues to grow in both depth and scale within the sport’s prestigious archive curated by Rugby League Cares at the University of Huddersfield.
The National Programme Archive now features over 24,000 unique programmes which help document the proud and colourful history of the sport in all its glory.
A significant milestone was reached this week when the number of home programmes from three clubs – Leeds, Leigh and Wigan – passed the 1,000 total, which equates to around 60 years of complete programmes for each club.
RL Cares continues to have an active acquisition policy as the charity looks to build the archive into a definitive collection of programmes from every club and representative fixture since the sport’s foundation in 1895.
The majority of programmes held within the archive have been donated by private collectors, led by former RFL and Super League chief executive Nigel Wood, who has had a lifelong passion for programme collecting.
Wood has been a driving force behind the National Programme Archive and has deposited his own exhaustive collection of historic programmes at Heritage Quay, the state-of-the-art archiving facility at the University of Huddersfield.
Whilst the archive is extensive, it remains a work in progress and there are many ‘gaps’ within the collection that RL Cares is keen to fill.
Nigel Wood said: “The primary aim of the archive is to gather and catalogue most of the programmes since the Second World War at professional club and international level. However, all material is welcome, particularly the very old and hard to find.
“We are receiving programmes all the time and though we’re delighted by how the collection is growing, it’s a never-ending project. There is still plenty to do.
“With RL Cares now advancing plans to establish the National Museum of Rugby League within the George Hotel in Huddersfield, it would be good to think we could get as complete a collection as possible by the time the museum opens to the public.”
“I would like to thank the very many volunteers, especially Stuart Sheard, Mick Harrop and Dave Thorpe, for their hard work processing and cataloguing the programmes, and the kind individuals who continue to donate their own collections for inclusion.
“Just recently, Mike Latham donated 250 Leigh programmes and Phil Caplan found a similar number from Leeds.
“Paul Hampton, the club historian, sourced a number of Castleford programmes which filled lots of gap, but there remains a number of omissions.
“We would love to hear from anyone who can help fill the remaining gaps and build more definitive collections from the game’s more recent clubs such as Catalans, Toulouse, Toronto, Crusaders, Oxford, Gateshead /Newcastle, University of Gloucestershire All Gold, Coventry, Oxford, South Wales and London Skolars.”
The ‘league table’ of programmes within the archive is currently:
St Helens 950
Hull KR 810
Blackpool etc 610
London various 400
To search the National Programme Archive, please visit https://bit.ly/2ULqN5S
Anyone who would like to donate programmes to the archive that they feel are missing from the collection should contact Stuart Sheard at firstname.lastname@example.org