My new book looks at my life and times through the prism of football programmes.
Programmes! Programmes! Football and Life from Wartime to Lockdown is a thinly autobiographical account of my generation who grew up in the aftermath of World War II. Football was central to my childhood and has remained a passion.
Looking through my collection of programmes, I sensed that they were historical objects, telling stories of people, places and times. Some programmes are milestones in my own life, such as the 1950s Manchester United programmes from games I went to as a youngster, or the 1968 Scotland v Austria programmes that marks my move to Scotland and first experience of Hampden Park; or later a Dukla Prague programme from the time I was doing training in the Czech Republic in the 1990s.
Many more programmes from games I did not go to reveal much about how football and Britain has changed during the lifetime of my generation. They reveal how floodlights and television changed the game in the 1950s, as people slowly became better off, and adverts for cars and consumer goods began to appear. Inflation and decimalisation and industrial unrest in the 1970s are there in the programmesof that era. There is even an intriguing insight from a Scunthorpe United programme of Mrs Thatcher’s 1979 election victory, followed by the Falklands War Cup Final programme. We see the appearance ethnic restaurants and black players as British society became more diverse.
The book takes the stories up to lockdown, with the rise of billionaire owners, cryptocurrencies, offshore gambling shirt sponsors and fan-owned clubs.
There are lots of quirky stories too – such as the options for a night out in Grimsby for visiting York City fans.
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