Each month we take a look at an Albion ‘programme from the past’. A number of the programmes will be rarities, allowing a much wider audience to view them, perhaps for the very first time.

Everton v West Bromwich Albion, FA Cup Fourth Round, Goodison Park, Sunday 27th January 1974

With Albion this week facing Everton at The Hawthorns, our latest featured programme comes from a clash between the two clubs forty years ago this month, the very first competitive game either club had played on a Sunday.

Despite being commonplace these days, prior to 1974 Sunday football was a ‘taboo’, the reason being the Sunday Observance Act that had been in force since 1780 - The Law of Sunday Holidays ‘prohibited that any building, room or other place can open to the public amusement or public consultation at Sundays’. Back then, public opposition to Sunday football on religious grounds was also strong.

The introduction of  Sunday football came about due to a combination of a miners' strike and the oil embargo declared by OPEC members on Western countries that were siding with Israel in the Yom Kippur War. Restrictions on energy use, power cuts, and a three-day working week were all imposed to save fuel and as part of the restrictions football clubs were banned from using their floodlights. With all games having to be played during daylight hours, kick-off times throughout the country were brought forward. Electricity however was still needed for the general running of stadia, and in December 1973 the Football Association asked the Home Office for permission to play games on a Sunday, feeling that a supply of power was more likely to be guaranteed on that day.

With permission granted, clubs had to devise a way of bypassing the law which prevented them from charging admission for any games played on a Sunday. To stay within the law, admission to games was made free, but supporters would have to purchase a programme or teamsheet priced at the normal cost of admission to enter the ground. The programmes would vary in price according to which part of the ground you wished to enter.

Sunday football was launched in England on 6 January 1974 with four FA Cup ties, the first being Cambridge v Oldham which kicked off at 11.15am. Albion’s first game on a Sunday came three weeks later in a FA Cup 4th round clash with Everton at Goodison Park. With Liverpool also due to play at home on that weekend, and with the energy crisis biting into the countries’ infrastructure, the decision to avoid both teams playing on the same day was taken - Liverpool would face Carlisle United on the Saturday with Everton's game moved back 24 hours to the Sunday. A huge crowd of 53,509 fans, including around 6,000 Baggies, witnessed Second Division Albion - they had been relegated from the top-flight nine months earlier, produce an excellent display to earn a 0-0 draw and a replay at The Hawthorns that would take place three days later.

The supporters in attendance saw the following teams line up:

Everton: Lawson, Darracott, McLaughlin, Clements, Lyons, Hurst, Bernard, Buckley, Royle, Jones (Telfer), Harper.

Albion: Latchford, Nisbet, Wilson, Cantello, Wile, Robertson, Johnston, T Brown, Shaw, Hartford, Glover. Sun not used: Merrick

Don Howe’s men would go one better in the replay, a solitary Tony Brown goal knocking out the Toffees to clinch a fifth round home tie against Newcastle United. Evidence of the energy crisis was again on show for the replay with the game kicking off at 2pm on a Wednesday afternoon as well as a ‘makeshift’ matchday programme that was printed by Doncaster Free Press as opposed to the usual Albion programme printers Peerless Press.

Despite seeing increased attendances throughout the country, opposition to Sunday football was strong and the games resorted back to their usual Saturday kick-off times as soon as the energy crisis ended. It would be another decade before Sunday football was attempted again but it didn’t really take off until Rupert Murdoch and BSkyB came along in 1992 and changed the face of football forever.

The 16 page programme for the Goodison Park game is not rare, copies can usually be bought for a couple of pounds, however, the teamsheets that supporters had to purchase to gain admittance to the ground very rarely come up on dealers' lists and are usually much sought after items.

View the complete programme here

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