In the 1990/91 season I first submitted copies of the Ifield programme to be assessed in the 16th Non League Programme Survey conducted by the Wirral Programme Club. I was delighted and surprised to find that we were voted as having the best programme in Division Three, the fourth best in the Sussex County League and ranked as high as 75th in the entire country. Entries are received from all leagues from the Conference downwards and so that rated our programme far higher than the level in which we played.
Although we have always produced the programme as a service for club members that initial result prompted a degree of competitiveness that has kept Mick Hartnett and me on our toes over the years. Mick's ingenuity and flair for design has ensured our production always looks good despite the constraints of a limited budget. We strive to maintain quality and have pride that our matchday programme looks to be just that and not a tatty team sheet as produced by some our rivals. The standards generally in Sussex and particularly in the County League are, and have always been very high.
Since that time we have consistently been rated as producing the best programme in Division Three and one of the best in the country in Intermediate Football. We have usually been close to the top in Sussex (including higher graded leagues like the Dr Martens and the Ryman) and as high as 40th nationally back in 1995/96. Bear in mind that equates to midtable in the Dr Martens Premier and you will see how well thought of our production is. In that time we have also topped the sections for Reserve Teams and Other Leagues where there have been insufficient entries to rate them separately.
With that in mind imagine how I felt when I opened this season's results and the first thing I saw was SECOND! After a momentary pause to delete the expletives I found that all was not lost. We have been placed second overall in the SCFL for the first time ever trailing only Lancing who have long been the League's top club for programmes (at least since Alf Blackler gave up his editorial role at Three Bridges). It appears that at a time of ever-improving standards of quality that the County League has not been able to keep pace. Only Wadhurst United from Division Three thought enough of their own efforts to enter the survey whilst none of the other Senior clubs produced a programme to match ours. We were not part of those declining standards, as there is only one way to judge your own progress and in comparison with the previous seasons we gained more points than ever before. They were sufficient only for 132nd place but we have no control over the editorial policies and budgets of the bigger clubs. Apart from finding a photographer for the club I'm not sure what else we can do but we are already thinking about any improvements we can make for next season's editions.