For those of us who habitually turn our noses up at pre-season friendlies, summer is always a good time for stocking up on new books or getting round to starting anything that is still languishing in the ‘to read’ pile.
Books about Yorkshire non-league football clubs are quite thin on the ground, so I thought I’d do a quick round up of a few things that I have picked up recently and which are worth getting your mits on.
1. Liversedge AFC – The First 100 Years – by Bob Gawthorpe and Andrew Taylor (self-published, 2011)
First of all, we have a club history which I picked up towards the end of the 2010-11 season, which is a self-published celebration/commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Liversedge FC. For anyone not familiar with the club, Liversedge is situated next to Cleckheaton in the Dewsbury area, and is one of the most appealing and picturesque non-league football settings you are ever likely to come across. With the new season about to get underway, I would wholeheartedly recommend it as a ground to visit while the weather is still decent in order to see it at its best. The book tells the story of the club through news items, historical research and personal remembrances from people involved with the club over the years. Issued in paperback, this is kinda halfway between a book and a pamphlet, being 40 glossy pages of A5. A fine example of how there are interesting stories behind every amateur football club though, and a nice touch is the final section which focuses on the various committee members and other volunteers who keep the club constantly ticking over .
The book costs £7 and is available direct from the club – at least it is if there are any left, as they were selling like hot cakes when I got mine, and I think the first print run was only 200 copies. I will try and find out if there are any specific contact details, meanwhile I suggest visiting their website at: http://www.pitchero.com/clubs/liversedge/
Next we have another item which I picked up at the end of the season, this one while visiting Hallam FC
2. The Countrymen – The History Of Hallam FC by John A.Steele: 150th Anniversary Edition (Self-published, 2010)
This is a very neat A5-sized paperback, 160 pages packed with info and stats telling the story of the ‘world’s second oldest club’, Hallam FC. Told via a series of short paragraphs and occasional matching newsclips and team photos, with lots of individual match details included, this book is presented in a very easy-to-read style, and is wholeheartedly recommended. Whereas the story of Sheffield FC (see below) involves periods of nomadic moving around, this is the story of a club who stayed put. So it details the struggle to keep the ground in line with increasing demands, as well as keep the club competitive on the pitch, and is probably as good an example of the story of an amateur English football club as you’re likely to get. Another one which is probably only available directly from the club itself, so try their website at: http://www.theoldestfootballgroundintheworld.com/
Finally, and linking nicely from the Hallam book, is another made-in-Sheffield publication. This one features Sheffield Club (or Sheffield FC as is more usually known), and has been out since their own 150th anniversary in 2007, though I only got my copy just recently.
3. Sheffield FC 1857-2007 – Celebrating 150 Years Of The World’s Oldest Football Club by Steven Hutton, Graham Curry and Peter Goodman (At Heart Publications, 2007)
This book is the more deluxe of the three, with its 150 glossy pages containing many photographs and illustrations, as well narration of the landmarks along the way during the formative years of the club. What makes this book particularly interesting, is that Club’s story is also tied very closely to the story of how football itself was developing in England in the late 19th Century. The book starts by looking at the origins of the game, inlcuding how the early rules were developed, and then goes on to chart the fascinating history of a club which has retained amateur status throughout its entire life. SFC now finds itself having only recently become ground owners for the first time, while progression on the pitch has taken it to an exciting new level also. Its contribution to the development of the game worldwide has also been acknowledged, and it is this aspect which forms a large part of the latter pages of the book.