The Old Fashioned A-Z of Football

The FA Cup 5th Round

We were confused by this Norwich City FA Cup video from 1958-9 earlier. Why is there a giant alphabet running across the side of the pitch? Is it a clever advertising campaign? Is it to demonstrate the availability of the advertising space? Or did the cameramen paint over the negatives to block advertising that they caught on camera?

None of these ideas are the case.

No, friend of British Pathe and Sports Editor of, Sean Ingle, came forwards on Twitter today with the answer… it’s an early scoring system!

Sure enough, we Googled “Alphabet scoreboards football” and found this helpful paragraph on the website

“There were 26 boxes marked with a letter of the alphabet. Below each individual letter was a door that opened and had the facility for two cards to be inserted, one in the top half, and one in the bottom half. In the match programme on the back page would be the day’s football fixture and each game would have a letter of the Alphabet adjoining it. These letters would be matched to the letters on the scoreboard and at half time, when the doors of the boxes on the scoreboard were opened and the cards inserted, the top number would show the home team’s score and the bottom number would show the away team’s score. At full time, the process would be repeated and fans would know the results of most matches that were played that day.”

We’re yet to find out when this system was scrapped. Was it because the alphabet blocks were taking up too much priceless advertising space? Or was it because football fans found a better method of learning the day’s results? For Norwich City fans. Enjoy these great vintage Norwich City clips.

Quote taken from Join Must site

Author: British Pathé

British Pathé holds the world's finest newsreel collection. We also represent the Reuters historical collection. All 220K films are viewable on our website.

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