A Brief History of Celtic Match Programmes

by Tom McGouran

The first official Celtic Match Programme

The first ever official Celtic match programme


Some Celtic Programme Collectors and many other collectors may still be confused as to when Celtic F.C. actually introduced a match programme for the first time. Programmes do exist from pre-war, the earliest known is v Heart of Midlothian on 10th August 1929. These issues were produced by an independant company up to and including season 1939-40.

A special 12 page programme dedicated to the memory of John ThomsonFor the visit of Rangers to Celtic Park on the 1st January 1946, a four page programme was issued and the editorial made the following claim 'Today we publish the first issue of an official programme, an innovation by the club which we feel sure will meet the wholehearted approval of our Supporters'. No other issues were seen in the remainder of that season.

Almost a full twelve months later on 12th December 1946, in an eight page programme for the visit of Clyde, a paragraph in the editorial read 'We are pleased to present our first official since the war which will in future be published every Saturday the first team are playing at home' The Club kept their word and a programme appeared on every Saturday for the remainder of the season (I personally take the Clyde issue as the first official programme).

Programme cover design change for Morton on 09/09/1950Season 1947-48 saw Celtic issue for every game except one (v Queen's Park) and the following season again had only one omission. For the visit of Hibernian on the 11th September 1948, a special 12 page programme was issued, priced 3d. It was dedicated to the memory of John Thomson and all the proceeds from the sales were to go to charity. On page 3 there was an interesting article titled 'How I signed John Thomson' by Steve Callaghan, a Celtic Scout.

The price of the programme remained at 3d (it was 2d from 12th December 1946), until the 19th April 1969 when it 'jumped' to 6d for the start of season 1969-70.

Season 1949-50 saw the odd miss in producing programmes. The first three issues of season 1950-51 saw the usual style of cover, but from the 9th September (v Morton), until the 16th December (v East Fife), a total of eight issues, there was a cover design change. The other contents of the programme remained unchanged. These few issues saw the cover of the programme show an aerial view sketch of Celtic Park and a sketch of a Celtic player above.

1951 St Mungo Cup programme vs Hearts

Programme for the 1951 St Mungo Cup match vs Hearts

1950's - 1960's

The programme returned to its normal style, of a player portrait photograph on the front cover, for the Heart of Midlothian fixture on 30th December 1950.

Special edition programme entitled In Appreciation of Our Chairman.Programme production began early in season 1951-52 when Celtic issued for a St Mungo's Cup tie against Heart of Midlothian on 14th July. The programme was along the normal line for that period and indeed the programme remained unchanged throughout the fifties and sixties until the 1st February 1969 (v Heart of Midlothian), when Celtic issued a 'Special' entitled 'in Appreciation of our Chairman'. The programme was priced 1/- and was the standard European size with all the proceeds being donated to St Joseph's Hospital, Rosewell, Midlothian- a favourite Celtic Charity.

Season 1968-69 saw the end of the programme style which had been used for 23 years. The final issue of that style was v Airdrieonians on 19th April 1969.

During that period, Celtic numbered their programme issues starting with the visit of Hibernian on 11th September 1948 for a League Cup match. For some reason the programme was numbered 4 !! The following seasons always started with the number 1, unlike Rangers and other clubs who used a continuous numbering system. Confusion arose when matches were postponed late and the programmes were printed but destroyed. Then not issued at the re-arranged date, the number still remained in the numbering sequence for that season (again see programme numbering notes by Tom McGouran- accessed via link at foot of this page). The last programme to be numbered was v Airdrieonians (No 14) on the 19th April 1969.

Programme design for 1969 - 1970Season 1969-70 saw the Celtic programme increase in price as earlier stated. Size too increased from eight pages to twelve pages plus a change in contents. A new cover was introduced. A large Celtic Crest in green ,with two green bands below showing the match details. Adverts were to be found on pages two,four,eight,eleven and twelve. 'Jock Stein says' on page three, overlapping onto page seven. Page five was an action shot from a recent match. Page six was on the visitors. Pages eight and nine were devoted to a player and accounts of a previous match between the clubs. Again the season saw midweek matches programmeless.

New programme design for 1972-1973 season

New programme design for 1972-1973 season


The following season saw no changes in price or style. In 1971-72 the price rose form the old sixpence to three new pence (v Clyde). The design and contents remained unchanged. The price increased again (v Airdrieonians) on 15th January 1972 to 4p.

Programme design for European Cup games season 1972 - 19731972-73 saw the season start with the same style of programme for the League Cup ties. On 2nd September 1972 (v Kilmarnock) the price was raised to 5p and the following changes were made: The cover was now green and white hoops with a club directory in the top left corner. Page seven now included a quiz along with the opponents details. Page eight was on the season statistics. The rest of programme held the same contents as before. This was the programme style until the commencement of the Premier Division in 1975-76 season.

Programme design for European Cup games season 1972 - 1973The League reconstruction saw a new look Celtic programme. The pages went from twelve to sixteen, the price doubled to 10p. The first issue of the new look programme was on 9th August 1975 for the visit of Aberdeen in the league Cup. The revamped style showed a green cover with two white bands ,one at the top and bottom of the cover.The middle if the cover showed a circular photograph of a previous meeting between the clubs. Page two concerned a previous match against today's opponents. Page three was by the Manager. Page five was on the other team's Manager. Pages six and seven covered the visitors. Pages eight and nine cover the team lineups, match officials and a half time scoreboard. Club news was on page eleven, statistics on twelve and thirteen. Page fourteen wasa quiz, reserves news, an advert. The other pages of the 16 page programme were adverts. The following season the programme was unchanged.

Programme design for 1977 - 1978Season 1977-78 saw a cover design change. The cover was an action shot shadowed onto the cover. Match details were printed in black. The programme size was still roughly A5. During the season four different cover shots were used. For the first time, Celtic issued a programme for every home competitive game. The 1978-79 season programme was of the same style ,though different action shots were used for the covers.

Programme design for 1979 - 1980Celtic's programme for season 1979-80 saw a colour photograph appear on the cover for the first time in a domestic game . The price was increased to 15p for sixteen pages. The first price increase for four years. This style lasted for only one season. The cover example here shows Celtic captain of the time, Daniel Fergus McGrain.


1985-86 Celtic programme voted Scottish Programme of the year

The Celtic programme 85/86 voted Programme of the Year


Season 1980-81 saw the programme increase in page content. This style was also of a larger size than previous years. A 16 page insert ' Programme Plus' was included. The price doubled to 30p.

The season 1985-86 Celtic programme was voted Scottish Programme of the year by Programme monthly. In the review Programme monthly stated: '.....there can be little doubt that the judging of the Celtic programme to be the best in Scotland in 1985-86 has been the most surprising result in the thirteen years of the Programme of the Year Awards'.

Throughout the 1980's various changes to the programme cover and contents were attempted. None lasted for any length of time. A few examples of changed covers up to 1990 are shown below.

1980 - 1981Celtic programme 1980-81

1981 - 1982Celtic programme 1981-82

1982 - 1983Celtic programme 1982-83

1982 - 1983Celtic European programme 1982-83

1983 - 1984Celtic programme 1983-84

1983 - 1984Celtic European programme 1983-84

1984 - 1985Celtic programme 1984-85

1984 - 1985Celtic European Programme 1984-85

1985 - 1986Celtic programme 1985-86

1985 - 1986Celtic European programme 1985-86

1986 - 1987Celtic programme 1986-87

1986 - 1987Celtic European programme 1986-87

1987 - 1988Celtic programme 1987-88

1988 - 1989Celtic programme 1988-88

1989 - 1990Celtic programme 1988-90

1990-91 Celtic programme voted Scottish Programme of the year

The Celtic programme 90/91 voted Programme of the Year


By 1990-91 season the Celtic programme moved to cost £1.

The programme cover took on many different looks and titles during the 1990s, a few examples follow a summary of the changes that occurred.

The 1990-91 season Programme was of 32 pages, in mid season a new Editor took over and produced the best programme for five years. This resulted in another Programme of the Year Award from Programme Monthly.

The King of Kings on 1997-98 programmeThe following season the Celtic programme was along the same lines. Season 1992-93 had a standard cover throughout the season, a sketch drawing of an Old Celt. The next season, 1993-94, saw the return of different colour covers on every game. In 1994-95 Celtic moved to Hampden for 'home' fixtures. The programme continued along the same format as the previous season.

The welcomed return to the new surroundings of the rebuilt Celtic Park, in 1995-96 season, saw the re-introduction of numbering on the programme issues. Starting with the visit of Raith Rovers in the League Cup. The friendlies against Newcastle United and Liverpool, played before the Raith game were not included in the numbering sequence.

Programme cover design used the new Celtic Huddle in 1997-98 Season 1996-97 saw few changes, as did season 1997-98. In season 1997-98 Henrik Larsson appeared on the front cover for the first time and so did the Celtic Huddle.With two games to go in the season the programme price jumped to £1.50 for the fixture against Hibernian( No 24) on 25th April. This was the first increase in price in seven years. Season 1998-99 saw minor changes in content, then for the visit of Hearts on 26th September 1998 (No 9), the programme adopted the title 'Walk-On'.

Into season 1999-2000 and the approaching new millennium saw very little of change.

1990 - 1991Celtic programme 1990-91

1991 - 1992Celtic programme 1991-92

1992 - 1993Celtic programme 1992-93

1992 - 1993Celtic European programme 1992-93

1993 - 1994Celtic programme 1993-94

1993 - 1994Celtic European programme 1993-94

1994 - 1995Celtic programme 1994-95

1994 - 1995Celtic Pre-season Friendly Programme 1994-95

1995 - 1996Celtic programme 1995-96

1995 - 1996Celtic European programme 1995-96

1996 - 1997Celtic programme 1996-97

1996 - 1997Celtic European programme 1996-97

1997 - 1998Celtic programme 1997-98

1997 - 1998Celtic European programme 1997-98

1998 - 1999Celtic programme 1998-98

1999 - 2000Celtic programme 1999-2000

Last Celtic programme of the 20th Century

The last Celtic programme of the 20th century


The Millennium was recognised in the two issues for the League games against Rangers. One was named 20th Century Bhoys, and the game after the New Year as 21st Century Bhoys (neither were numbered but the had places allocated in the numbered sequence as 14 and 20).

21st Century Bhoys programme cover design to recognise the new millenium.By November 2000 the title 'Walk-On' was dropped and a new look programme cover taken on.The player shown on the programme cover also had his autograph printed on the cover.

This autographed cover theme continued for 2000/01 matches until the end of the season, with the exception of an A4 size issue on 22nd April v Hearts in celebration of the league having been won two weeks earlier.

The 2001/02 season saw another new look to the programme cover. More and more programmes were of the larger A4 size and special covers were designed for Champions League ties. Below are a few of the styles used for league and European matches during 2001/02 season.


2000 - 2001Celtic programme 2000-01

2000 - 2001Celtic European programme 2000-01

2001 - 2002Celtic programme 2001-02

2001 - 2002Celtic European programme 2001-02

2002 - 2003Celtic programme 2002-03

2002 - 2003Celtic European programme 2002-03

2003 - 2004Celtic programme 2003-04

2003 - 2004Celtic European programme 2003-04

2004 - 2005Celtic programme 2004-05

2004 - 2005Celtic European programme 2004-05

2005 - 2006Celtic programme 2005-06

2005 - 2006Celtic European programme 2005-06

2006 - 2007Celtic programme 2006-07

2006 - 2007Celtic European programme 2006-07

2007 - 2008Celtic programme 2007-08

2007 - 2008Celtic European programme 2007-08

2008 - 2009Celtic programme 2008-09

2008 - 2009Celtic European programme 2008-09

2009 - 2010Celtic programme 2009-10

2009 - 2010Celtic European programme 2009-10

to be continued

© Tom McGouran 2017