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  • Sheffield Wednesday FC: The Official History 1867-2017 by Jason Dickinson

    Although Sheffield Wednesday have recently celebrated their 151st birthday, the story of their first 150 years remains a fascinating account of how this grand old club started life almost 200 years ago, when Wednesday Cricket Club was formed by the ‘little mesters’ of Sheffield, gentlemen who played a prominent role in the manufacturing boom in the town, which was driven mainly by the production of cutlery and steel. The cricket club quickly grew to become one of the best, and most well supported, clubs in the North of England as the town of Sheffield embraced the game, which eventually led to the formation of Yorkshire County Cricket Club. It was the booming membership of the cricket club that led directly to the formation of a football team as members were keen to stay together in the winter months. Wednesday Football Club was duly formed on 4 September 1867 in the Adelphi Hotel, where the famous Crucible Theatre now stands, and joined the growing band of clubs as the new sport of football gained a foothold on the local sporting scene. The city of Sheffield still boasts the oldest club in world football (Sheffield FC) and the oldest ground (Sandygate, home of Hallam FC).

    Sheffield's Midland Station as the FA Cup is brought back in 1935. (Sheffield Wednesday FC, Amberley Publishing)

    From those early beginnings, Wednesday FC slowly rose to become the prominent club in Sheffield. By the late 1870s it became known nationally after several headline making runs in the FA Cup, reaching the final as a non-league side in 1890. Although they failed to gain election into the newly created Football League in 1888, they were voted in four years later, along with newly formed neighbours Sheffield United. Honours duly followed in league and cup and although Wednesday have now been outside of the Premier League for almost twenty years they remain one of the best supported club’s in the land. A loyal following that followed them during the dark days of the 1970s and early 2010s when the very future of the club was on the line. That passion for the Owls (a nicknamed coined when the club received a gift of a wooden Owl, which was placed under the eves of a stand, and saw the start of a winning run) has been passed down through the generations. From their early years playing on roped off pitches to a move to Olive Grove and then to Owlerton, and remains as fierce now as it did back in those Victorian years when the likes of Heeley and Lockwood Brothers were the club’s main rivals.

    The Official 150th Year History of Sheffield Wednesday was written in a format that is an homage to the seminal work of Richard Sparling, who published ‘The Romance of the Wednesday’ back in 1926 – one of only a handful of football history books published in the pre-war era. Like that tremendous book, the club’s fortunes have been detailed in specific ‘standalone’ chapters. From the early years of the cricket club to over 4,600 games played in the league and from the best players to the managers who’ve led Wednesday through all their up and downs. All the major events of those 150 years are covered in detail with chapters also detailing Wednesday’s exploits in European football and the League Cup, in addition to a detailed look at their much beloved home of almost 120 years, Hillsborough. A chapter detailing derby day meetings with city rivals the Blades are also within the pages, along with stories of Wednesday’s numerous trips to foreign lands and even a chapter full of curious and funny stories that have only added to the rich tapestry of their long history. The book tells the full story of a one of England’s most well-known football teams, with a name that is totally unique in world football.

    Jason Dickinson's new paperback edition of his book Sheffield Wednesday FC: The Official History 1867-2017 is available for purchase now.

  • Anfield Voices by David Paul

    Jubilant fans after the 1977 European Cup Final. (Anfield Voices, Amberley Publishing)

    Just as there are many thousands of supporters of Liverpool Football Club from many different walks of life, there is at least an equal number of tales told by those supporters – some happy, some funny, others quite simply bizarre, and, regrettably, some very sad. The volume of statistics goes back as far as 1892, when the club was founded, and it would be a brave person who tried to write a definitive history of Liverpool Football Club. This book is in no way an attempt to do that, instead it is the ordinary fans and their stories that feature in the following pages. Some stories are about players, some about exciting games and some about the weird and wonderful ways in which fans overcame seemingly insurmountable problems to see their glorious team.

    Tales of travelling to European ties are in amongst these pages, as are many personal anecdotes from fans who tell how Liverpool Football Club has played a part in their lives. And, because so many people just had to talk about him, a whole chapter is devoted to stories about the great Bill Shankly.

    Merseyside has a proud sporting heritage, with football taking pride of place. On any day of the week, conversation in pubs and clubs invariably gets around to football once politics has been cleared out of the way! Liverpudlians have a deep love of the game and many claim to have grown up in either a mixed family or a mixed marriage. This statement doesn’t relate to race or religion, but to peoples’ allegiance to the Merseyside football teams. Having said that, there is often heard around the city the words of that most famous of all football managers, ‘There’s two great sides in Liverpool – Liverpool and, er ... Liverpool Reserves’.

    I had to tell my Scouse friend that it wasn't the Germans who were responsible for the Coluseum looking like this! (Anfield Voices, Amberley Publishing)

    All of the photographs and other items of memorabilia in this book have been loaned by the fans themselves. The all-pervading theme of this oral history is the passion and loyalty which Liverpool fans have for their team. Many of the older supporters can no longer attend the games, but their love for Liverpool is just as strong and vivid as when they were young boys standing on the Kop.

    The Kop itself is now very different from the way it used to be and the Centenary and Anfield Road Stands have also seen extensive re-development, and no doubt there are more changes planned for the future. Amid all of these changes however, one aspect remains constant – and always will – the indefatigable spirit of the club and its supporters.

    How Did the Coliseum End Up Like This?

    In 1977 we flew out to Rome to see Liverpool play Borussia Mönchengladbach in the final of the European Cup. On the way out we met some Scousers who were based in Germany. The Aer Lingus jet that we flew out on was called the Saint Patrick. The whole experience was so amazing I’ll never forget it for the rest of my life. We went along to see the sights of the ruins of the Coliseum. These two Scousers tagged along with us. It was clear that they’d never ventured much further than the outskirts of town. When they saw the Coliseum they were outraged and asked if it was the Germans who had done the damage during the war!

    June Titherington

    The official UEFA souvenir programme for the Europen Cup Final held in Rome on Wednesday 30 May 1984. (Anfield Voices, Amberley Publishing)

    £99 For the Trip of a Lifetime

    My daughter got these tickets, £99 for each of us, that included the price of £3 for the game itself. We started off from Skelhorne Street, five National coaches, and there was a real sense of excitement and almost triumph - people were waving us off and cheering as the buses pulled out of the coach station. We were sleeping out of suitcases, but nobody seemed to mind. On the first night we stayed in France and the next morning we set off early to Switzerland. The following day we were aiming for Florence. It was a five-day tour, so we covered some miles during that time. On the day we got to Florence, we didn’t stay that long, as we then had to set off for Rome. We arrived early in the morning. It was absolutely magnificent. All the German supporters were there, arriving in their super-deluxe coaches, and we were in our somewhat less-grand National coaches, but that didn’t seem to matter to anyone. Anyway, there was much banter between the rival fans, but it was all very good-natured. We went to the Trevi Fountains, and many fans were splashing around, taking the opportunity of cooling themselves down. A German came over to me, and we got into quite a long conversation. He assured me that his team was going to win. I didn’t share this view.  He suggested that, irrespective of the outcome, we should have a drink after the game. We went our separate ways, he to his end of the ground and us to the other. We walked along as a group and, right in the middle of the group, was Bill Shankly himself. He was just like one of us. One of the supporters had lost his money. When Shanks heard this he gave him a few bob for himself. It was a little intimidating in the ground. At our end there were soldiers and police with guns. There were also several very large dogs, to say nothing of the heavy mesh wire which penned us in - almost like wild animals. There was just no need for it. Anyway, the game kicked-off, and it was very exciting game. It was just unbelievable! When we finally left the ground, it was decided that, instead of staying in Rome, we should make our way to Switzerland and do our celebrating there. We had a ball that night. We were one big happy family. From what I can gather, people who travelled either by train or jet didn’t have such a good time as we did.

    Ivy May

    David Paul's book Anfield Voices is available for purchase now.

  • Proud to be a Baggie: A Pictorial History of West Bromwich Albion Fans by Dean Walton

    WEMBLEY 1968 – 50 YEARS ON

    Ten-year-old Ray Jackson and supporters from Barratts & Baird set off for Wembley. (Proud to be a Baggie: A Pictorial History of West Bromwich Albion Fans, Amberley Publishing)

    May 18th 1968, Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World was at Number 1 in the charts and Harold Wilson was the pipe-smoking Prime Minister. Indeed it was a ‘wonderful world’ for everyone associated with West Bromwich Albion football club, the FA Cup was coming back to the Black Country.

    In front of almost 100,000 fans against Everton at the old Wembley Stadium, the ‘King of the Hawthorns’ Jeff Astle became the first player to score in every round when his left foot rocket in the third minute of extra-time proved to be the winner – his 35th goal in an incredible season. Albion’s Welsh international skipper Graham Williams lifted the trophy and a part of the West Midlands went absolutely crazy.

    Although hardly anyone owned a colour television in those days, the ’68 final was actually the first to be broadcast in colour, this meant that both teams had to wear their change strips – Everton in gold & blue and the Baggies wearing their lucky white shirts & shorts with the now legendary red socks being worn with the kit for the first time. The match ball was also yellow for the benefit of colour TV. Dennis Clarke also became the first substitute to be used in a final when he came on for the injured John Kaye at the end of the 90 minutes.

    Everton were hot favourites, they had thrashed Albion both home and away that season. Baggies captain Graham Williams proudly declared before the game that ‘no team ever beats another three times in the same season.’ This statement stuck in the players’ minds and helped spur them on to success.

    A crowd of 250,000 in West Bromwich town centre with the Star & Garter pub on the right. (Proud to be a Baggie: A Pictorial History of West Bromwich Albion Fans, Amberley Publishing)

    The next day, the streets from Birmingham city centre all the way to West Bromwich town hall were packed with an estimated 250,000 people who turned out to welcome the team back with the Cup for the fifth time.

    West Brom have never made the final since, despite getting to four FA Cup semi-finals, in fact it was the last major trophy that the club won. The FA Cup was very special in those days, fans would gather around the TV from 9am in the morning to watch the build up to the match itself – it was always the highlight of the season.

    Now we look back nearly 50 years later and every one of those players is still a household name amongst the Baggies’ supporters: Osborne, Fraser, Williams, Brown, Talbut, Kaye, Collard, Lovett, Astle, Hope, Clark C and Clarke D. Sadly three of the team are no longer with us; goalkeeper John Osborne, winger Clive ‘Chippy’ Clark and ‘King’ Jeff Astle have all passed away, Astle’s premature death was a result of brain damage caused by continuous heading of the old leather case balls.

    Fortunately the remaining nine players still get together regularly and at least three of the Cup winning team will be at the launch of Proud to be a Baggie – a book chronicling the history of West Bromwich Albion fans. The launch and signing takes place in the Fanzone at The Hawthorns before the forthcoming Albion v Spurs game on 5th May. Dean Walton’s book features many never-before seen photos of the fans heading to Wembley and at the homecoming on the Sunday.

    Albion may well be heading for the Championship but the boys of ’68 will be remembered forever.

    Dean Walton's new book Proud to be a Baggie: A Pictorial History of West Bromwich Albion Fans is available for purchase now.

  • The Hooligans Are Still Among Us by Michael Layton

    The Hooligans Are Still Among Us 1 British Transport Police officers, outside Arsenal tube station, 1980s. (Tony Thompson, The Hooligans Are Still Among Us, Amberley Publishing)

    The scourge of football-related violence has been with us since the 1960s, and came to the fore during the 70s and 80s, before the use of CCTV and other pro-active measures started the fight back by police and the authorities. The so-called ‘beautiful game’ has served to enrich the way of life for many generations in the UK and abroad, but for a relatively small, but significant, mindless minority football provides a platform for organised acts of mindless violence at its extreme, whilst spontaneous incidents of disorder, often fuelled by alcohol, remain a reality.

    ‘The Hooligans Are Still Among Us’ was released on the 15 May 2017, co-written with Bill Rogerson. It seeks to provide readers with a resume of those early years, using recollections from retired police officers, before examining in some detail the risks that such violent individuals pose whilst travelling on the rail networks, and at, and around stadiums in the UK during the 2015/2016 season.

    The authors draw on material, much of it ‘open source’, which clearly indicates that, whilst we have not returned fully to the ‘bad old days’ of the 80s, the problem of football hooliganism still exists to this day. As police tactics have been honed over the years through better use of intelligence, legislation and technology so too have the tactics of determined hooligans. One has only to look at ‘social media’ to see how readily material of an anti-social nature can be found.

    This latest book also explores problems in the sport relating to sectarianism and racial abuse in the UK, as well as the impact that ‘travelling’ English supporters have at international ‘away’ games. Sometimes, ‘more sinned against’ than being ‘sinners’ themselves, the historical reputation of English supporters often goes before them, sometimes leading to violence and confrontation, as groups vie for supremacy.

    The Hooligans Are Still Among Us 2 Monitoring football traffic at Wembley Park Station in 2014. (British Transport Police Media Centre, The Hooligans Are Still Among Us, Amberley Publishing)

    This behaviour is vividly described in accounts of violence by eye-witnesses at the European Championships in France in June 2016, and, in particular, at the Old Port in Marseilles on the 11 June 2016. It is clear that, to the ‘combatants’, status is everything, and reinforcing their position in the ‘hooligans hierarchy’, all important.

    After a review of the history of some of the UK’s better-known hooligan ‘firms’, the book moves on to look at some of the latest measures that the police are taking, and also takes an academic view on one of the ways forward, where such issues as ‘fan engagement’ are highlighted.

    There is no doubt that history plays a huge part in the mind-set of hooligans and ‘local derbies’, and high-profile tournaments always feature highly in their planning.

    As some of the older hooligan elements have taken a ‘back-seat’, there are some indications that ‘youth groups’ are filling that vacuum, particularly at non-league football games, where there are normally no police in attendance, or there is a lack of effective stewarding and CCTV.

    As former police officers, Bill and I have no desire whatsoever to vilify the many thousands of decent football supporters who travel to games each week, or indeed to glorify the actions of those who seek attention from the media through their perverse actions.

    Without doubt however, this is a problem that remains in our society, so much so in fact that less than two years ago the British Transport Police put tackling football hooliganism at the very heart of their operational priorities – indeed it was second only to tackling terrorism.

    The irony of this directive will not be lost on many, as we witness the recent terrorist attacks in the UK, and without doubt, as the police seek to balance finite resources, the challenges to tackle football related violence will become even more demanding.

    To some extent, ‘The Hooligans Are Still Among Us’ acts as a sequel to ‘Tracking The Hooligans’, which was also published by Amberley in 2016. Whilst it is specific by way of its reference to football violence on the UK rail network, nevertheless, the principles of research remain the same.

    I refer to a statement made by the BTP Chief Constable Mr Gay in 1972, which remains with me to this day: “On an average Saturday, some thirty trains carried police escorts of between two to eight officers. They sometimes reached their destination with their uniforms spoiled with spittle, and other filth, burnt with cigarette ends, or slashed….”

    This is how it was, and often still is, for the very thin blue line of officers who have to deal with such issues week in, week out, whether on transport networks, or in city centres and stadiums.

    This is the sort of behaviour that innocent members of the public still have to endure on a regular basis – in short, ‘The Hooligans Are Still Among Us’.

     

    9781445665887

    Michael Layton and Bill Rogerson's new book The Hooligans Are Still Among Us is available for purchase now.

  • Trevor Ford: The Authorised Biography by Neil Palmer

    It was a March evening in Cardiff City’s 1992/93 season, a season in which the Bluebirds won Promotion out of footballs bottom tier and also added a Welsh Cup under the excellent stewardship of manager Eddie May. I sat in the grandstand at Ninian Park with my father to watch an evening game against Scarborough, (yes following football is not all glamour). The game will always stay in my mind, not for the 1-0 win by the Bluebirds but around 10 minutes after kick off my dad nudged me and pointed out that a couple of rows away sat next to the aisle was Trevor Ford. When he told me the game suddenly lost some of its interest, as I would glance at the match whilst constantly keeping an eye on this grey haired gentleman in a light brown overcoat who was constantly asked for his autograph by a whole array of supporters.

    My mind drifted off to my childhood as the name Trevor Ford will always be synonymous with how my father judged any center forward of worth during the 1960s through to today, Dad tended to do this with singers also claiming “They're not as good as Sinatra”. Well for him no center forward was “As good as Trevor Ford”. The comparison was a little lost on me as I was brought up with the football sticker and Esso coin era of players of the 1960s and 70s and to be honest my only knowledge apart from my fathers cast iron opinion of him being the best was a photo in an old Charles Buchan football book that showed him in a Aston Villa kit that fascinated me as the shirt had a laced up neck.

    trevor-ford-1 Aston Villa squad of 1949. Trevor is in the middle row, second from left. (c. Trevor Ford, Amberley Publishing)

    However I watched Ford throughout the game and when it ended my father and I made our way out of the stand, which just happened to mean passing Trevor Ford. As we did my father said ‘Hello Trevor” and offered his hand which Trevor then shook. Although I was in my thirties I felt like a child, rooted to the spot on meeting a famous person, as I just nodded in return for Trevor’s smile. All the way home we talked about his career. My dad explained how he was the big star at Cardiff City when my dad was on the ground staff and what a player he was, all of which I had heard many times from dad but to see the man in the flesh seemed too give these stories even more merit.

    Trevor was a player that always stayed in my subconciese, when I started writing sports books I had the honour of interviewing various football players from the 1950s and I would always ask them, for my own curiosity more than anything else ‘What was Trevor Ford like?’. To the public they would always talk affectionately about him, yet anytime he was mentioned in the media he was always referred to as “Fiery Ford” or “Terrible Trevor” which I thought was a little unjust. Even when he passed away the main bulk of any obituary in the newspapers tended to be based on his book “I lead the Attack” rather than the prolific goal stats for his clubs and Wales. And with the upsurge in Welsh football I started to think he was forgotten about by sections of the media as they talked about “greats” like John Charles, Ian Rush, Ryan Giggs, Ivor Allchurch and Gareth Bale, all of whom are quite rightly great Welsh footballers but I always felt there was room for one more.

    Unfortunately this was the same when pundits talked about great center forwards. It appeared that the modern generation of media with its seven days a week football, Internet forums and Radio talk shows only went as far back as Gary Lineker and Italia 90. I make no apologies for my continued frustration at this, even at the cost of being called a “Grumpy old git”. It is a title that when it comes to the recognition of “Old” footballers I wear with pride.

    trevor-ford-2 FA Cup, 1951. Sunderland beat Norwich City 3-1. Trevor (airborne, right) is in the thick of the action, as always. (c. Trevor Ford, Amberley Publishing)

    So with this in mind I started on path of finding out about Trevor Ford in detail with a view for a book .The writer LP Hartley memorably began his novel The Go Between with the words “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.” And that has never been truer when you look at a football world in the 1950s, which has now become unrecognizable today.

    Trevor was at the very center of the struggle for players to earn a better deal out of the game. It has been said many times that he was a player who knew his own worth. He knew early on, even in his Swansea Town days that he was the main attraction when it came to putting bums on seats, and football club directors knew it, other wise why would they pay for the very best players to enhance their football clubs. After all nobody said “I can’t wait for Saturday to see the left back play”. Trevor knew as a center forward he had a certain cache that clubs would pay for. Problem was in the eyes of the football authorities everybody got their £20 a week and that was their lot. In truth this was never going to work, nor did it. It insults our intelligence to think that a young 17 year old at Wolverhampton Wanderers would be paid the same £20 per week Wolves and England captain Billy Wright would get or would another 17 year old at Preston North End get the same as Legend Tom Finney. The answer is obviously no. The reality was that your Billy Wrights and Tom Finney’s were, like every other top player given various gifts that would make their stay at a club more confortable. The players knew what was going on and so did the Directors. But it took strong individuals like Trevor to stand up for change in the game whilst others kept silent.

    trevor-ford-3 Greats reunited at the Vetch, Swansea. Trevor and Ivor Allchurch hold up their favourite shirts. (c. Trevor Ford, Amberley Publishing)

    This resulted in a stronger PFA who were able to negotiate an end to the maximum wage and the ability for players to be in control of their own contracts. Trevor’s subsequence confrontations with authorities tarnished him with the tag of being “trouble” and not one to touch in terms of bringing to a club, yet his goal scoring record sits alongside any of the greats in the game past or present. The most damming of part of his career being his treatment by the Welsh FA with them not taking him to Sweden as part of the Welsh 1958 World cup squad. A decision that saw many Welsh selectors flex their muscles towards Trevor, making sure they taught him a lesson for what they deemed as embarrassing the organization rather than do what was the best thing for the country. It panned out the lack of preparation and amateurish attitude by the Welsh FA in the finals reconfirmed that many of the so-called “selectors” should never have been within 100 yards of running a football team in the first place.

    During the research for the book I was honored too meet Trevor’s son David who gave his support to the project. David’s honesty and enthusiasm to tell his fathers story, warts and all has been a real driving force of the book and I know that he has allowed me too share with you, the reader everything about his father and the Ford family. David allowed me the chance to see Trevor the man whilst numerous ex colleagues allowed me the chance to see Trevor the player and I will always be thankful to them for that.

    So for me the idea of taking just a name from my childhood memories and turning it into a book about what I believe to be one of the most influential footballers the game has produced has been a labour of love and one which I hope you will enjoy through the pages of this book.

    9781445640563

    Neil Palmer's new book Trevor Ford: The Authorised Biography is available for purchase now.

  • Ryan Giggs Fifty Defining Fixtures by Tony Matthews

    Ryan Giggs, OBE, was born in Cardiff on 29 November 1973 and made his senior debut for Manchester United in 1990. He became a first team regular at Old Trafford during the 1991-92 season and went on to score 168 goals in more than 960 competitive games for the club, as well as gaining 64 caps for Wales and playing in four Olympic Games matches for GB, before retiring (as a player) in 2014.

    Ryan Giggs pic 1 Ryan Giggs in action during the friend;y match between Singha All Star XI and Manchester United at Rajamangala Stadium on 13th July 2013 in Thailand (mooinblack/shutterstock.com)

    Renowned for his tireless running, ball control, ability to create chances and scoring goals, he is one of the most decorated players in British football history, and during his playing days, he helped United win 13 Premiers League titles, the FA Cup four times, the League Cup on three occasions and the Champions League twice, as well as collecting several runner’s-up prizes.

    The first footballer in history to win two consecutive PFA Young Player of the Year awards (in 1992 and 1993), he was also named PFA Player of the Year in 2009 and is the only player to score in every Premier League season, starting in 1992-93

    Chosen in the PFA Team of the Century in 2007, the Premier League Team of the Decade in 2003 and the FA Cup Team of the Century, he was, being the youngest player to represent his country (Wales) when making his debut in 1991, and he captained Team GB at the 2012 London Olympics

    Made an OBE in 2007 for his services to English football, he was named BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 2009 and in January 2011, was voted Manchester United's greatest ever player.

    Ryan Giggs pic 2 Ryan Giggs, again during the Singha All Star XI v. Manchester United friendly at Rajamangala Stadium (mooinblack/Shutterstock.com)

    After acting briefly as United’s interim manager at the end of the 2013-14 season, he was subsequently appointed as Louis van Gaal’s assistant (May 2014) and is also co-owner (with some of his former Manchester united team-mates) of non-League club, Salford City.

    Ex-Ajax Amsterdam, CF Barcelona and Holland legend Johan Cruyff said: "Eric Cantona was a great player, but he was not as good as Ryan Giggs."

    To choose fifty out of the 1,000 plus football matches Ryan has played in was mighty tough… I can tell you that for nothing. In fact, 200 who have been hard going, even 100, but to narrow it down to just fifty was nigh on impossible. But with the help of some diehard supporters I got there in the end and although I know for sure that I have upset a few people simply for not including their ‘favourite’ match, I just hope that the ones I have reported on, bring back some find memories.

    9781445646787

    Tony Matthew's Ryan Giggs Fifty Defining Fixtures is available for purchase now.

  • Don Kenyon His Own Man by Tim Jones

    Don Kenyon was a ’leader of champions and a champion of leaders’ for good reason; he was his own man and did things his own way.

    Known as ‘Braddy’ at school - like Don Bradman - he would bat for long periods without getting out. He still holds the record as the youngest player to score a century in the Birmingham League first division aged just 14.

    For 19 seasons he scored over 1,000 runs and captained Worcestershire’s first championship winning side in 1964, (retaining the title in its centenary year of 1965). He remains the record holder with 589 appearances and 34,490 runs for the County.

    Elected to the Test selection panel while still a player, he fearlessly supported the inclusion of Basil D’Oliveira for the Tour to South Africa in 1968/69, the outcome of which ultimately led to their sporting exclusion.

    It was in the ‘Kenyon Room’ at Worcester – named after him – where he died in 1996 just as he was about to show a video of Worcestershire’s World Tour from 1965. He died as he lived his life, surrounded by cricketing friends and family.

    ‘His Own Man’ details the life of a devoted family man who did everything within his capabilities to provide for them. It was this devotion which drove him to be the best in his chosen profession.

    ‘His Own Man’ asks the question why one of the outstanding batsman of his generation did not play more Test cricket? Both team mates and opponents provide opinion. What made Don such an outstanding captain and leader of men? Former players give an insight into what ‘made him tick.’

    ‘His Own Man’ celebrates the back-to-back triumphs in the County Championship, looks in detail at the joyous World Tour of 1965 (supported by rare archive material) plus the disappointment of agonisingly missing out on a third consecutive Championship title in 1966.

    His Own Man’ covers Don’s three year term as Worcestershire President which coincided with the return of the glory years in the late 1980’s when the likes of Ian Botham and Graeme Hick were in their pomp.

    9781445647562

    Tim Jones book Don Kenyon His Own Man is available for purchase now.

  • The Origins of Sheffield Wednesday by Jason Dickinson

    It may seem strange to modern day followers of the ‘beautiful game’ that as relatively recently as the mid-19th Century the game of Association Football was still a pastime only practised in a handful of public schools and universities in England. In fact that early form of the sport was more akin to rugby than it was football with handling, charging and tripping all allowed in a rather crude and somewhat rough early incarnation of today’s multi-billion pound product.

    Sheffield - Microsoft Word - Document1 Wednesday FC team photograph from the late 1880s

    The first shoots of today’s game started to grow in the Northern cutlery town of Sheffield in 1857 when two gentlemen – silver-plate manufacturer Nathaniel Creswick and wine merchant William Prest – formed the club’s first and oldest football club, Sheffield FC. The rise of the game amongst the populous was actually accelerated in that period through two acts of Parliament with the 1847 and 1850 Factory Acts dramatically changing the day to day lives of the working man and woman. In short, the working week became significantly more defined and crucially a Saturday half-day was introduced with all factories expected to be closed by 2pm. Suddenly there was more free time to pursue leisure activities and the main social activity to benefit was the new and exciting sport of Association Football. The new sport was also embraced by the Victorian gentry who had initially supported the game of cricket in the early 19th Century as it pulled the populous away from awful and inhumane sports of yore, such as bear baiting and dog fighting. The new game was also promoted as a pastime that improved both mind and body and as the 1860s dawned clubs started to spring up around the UK, with Hallam FC providing a rival for Sheffield in the town and the likes of Notts County (1862) & Nottingham Forest (1865) being formed. The sport was also starting to thrive in the south and it was not long before the Football Association was formed (1863) with football played under ‘Cambridge Rules’ by the southerners and ‘Sheffield Rules’ by the northerners!

    Sheffield - Microsoft Word - Document1 The Cromwell Cup - the second oldest trophy in world football, won by Wednesday Football Club in 1868 and still in the club's boardroom today.

    The year of 1867 was significant as the first ever football trophy – the Youdan Cup – was competed for in Sheffield (won by Hallam FC) while a year later the Cromwell Cup (won by new boys Wednesday FC) showed there was great interest in the knock out format of the game. In fact the town of Sheffield is rightly lauded as contributing more to the game than anywhere else as in addition to cup-tie football the goal kick, corner flag, neutral referee, throw in, goal kick, half-time, trophies and extra time were all introduced in the town, amongst many others than remain in the rule book today. As the game took root in the nation’s heart, the FA Cup was introduced in 1871 with the Sheffield Challenge Cup commencing in 1876, won by the Wednesday Club – both competitions continue to be played today although the entrants in the respective tournaments do now differ quite considerably!

    The Sheffield and Cambridge rules ceased in 1878 – the sport was played under one defined set of rules from that point forward – and by the late 1880s the game was being played in every village, town and city in England. It was Aston Villa Chairman William McGregor who thought it would a good idea to start a league competition, guaranteeing regular and competitive matches and duly in September 1888 twelve clubs commenced the first season of the new Football League – the game would never be the same.

    Sheffield - 9781445619521

    Jason Dickinson's The Origins of Sheffield Wednesday is available for purchase now.

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