Excellent, excellent guide. Definitely glad I contributed and purchased!
An awesome book - best present I've bought myself in a long time!
When a package arrives in the post that looks suspiciously like a fairly weighty book which coincides with your birthday I naturally thought to myself “oh goody!” On opening the packet, the book turns out to be a copy of Around the Grounds by Chris Nelson and something that I had contributed to a long time ago. My initial thoughts, well after the one thinking it was a birthday present, were wow what a great looking book. I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting as I was contacted by Chris many months ago to answer some questions regarding Bradford City in order to give a fans view of the club. I receive many requests like these all the time and I dutifully completed the questions and then went about my other City Gent related business before promptly forgetting about it.
The book is the same height as a copy of The City Gent but wider and the front cover photograph was taken at Norwich City’s Carrow Road ground. But that’s not the only colour photograph used as the book is filled with really good colour images of the grounds, players, managers, fans, action shots from the recent past and up to date ones. And within the 264 pages there is a huge amount of writing about each and every one of the 92 Football League and Premier league clubs. These are naturally listed in alphabetical order and the majority of clubs (68) receive 2 pages, one team Leicester City has 3 pages (more of that later) and the rest (23) have a full four pages dedicated to their team. Sixteen of these are from the Premier League which is what you’d expect given their fan base and also their history. Of the rest, only one team from as low as League Two makes it to this elite group and of course that is our very own Bradford City.
As well as contacting myself, the author got in touch with Michael Wood from The Boy from Brazil web site and as neither of us are ever short of a word or three dozen when it comes to writing about the Bantams, I can only assume that our combined contributions were of such high quality that there was never a thought towards bracketing City along with the likes of Birmingham City, Blackpool, Wigan Athletic and the rest with just a mere two pages. Well that’s what I would like to think anyway! Obviously looking at the four pages about City were my first port of call and after the initial surprise that our club were given as much space as Man Utd, it was good to read what Michael Wood had said as well as recalling what I had submitted. The format which is true for the clubs with just two pages starts with some contact details and facts about the club plus a photo of the ground and a picture of the home kit. Of course the kit used is last season’s all claret with the amber ‘armpits’ and the author has dug out one of City’s old nicknames “The Citizens” and yet misses the one I grew up with “The Paraders”, but that’s a very minor point. The only other error which the author has written in the opening paragraph is that he states that “City found itself kicking off the 2007/08 season in the bottom division for the first time in its history” which of course is incorrect, but given the way the names of the leagues have been changed so much in the past 20 years, it’s not surprising. City was last in division four or the bottom rung of the football league in 1982.
The rest of the text is basically questions that either Michael or I have answered. Questions along the lines of greatest and also worst moment at the ground, heroes and Zeroes of the turf, Villains, That’s quite interesting and Not a lot of people know that. I think both our answers to these questions are well written but I would say that wouldn’t I? On the second of our four pages there is a photograph of a very young looking Stuart McCall holding his hands up whilst pictured outside the ground. This is a photograph that I don’t recall ever seeing before and given that Stuart is wearing a jacket that is almost indescribable perhaps there has been an embargo on it ever been seen in public until now! On pages three and four there are a couple of photographs taken at the famous Liverpool game in May 2000 and as with every club there are details on how to get to the ground, where to park and where to go for a pint before or after a game. Paul Jewell rates a mention as a hero from the sidelines and there is a panel with a list of useful fan based City web sites. All in all it’s a good description on what supporting Bradford City is all about and I’m sure not only City fans but fans from other clubs will find something there that they didn’t know about or be reminded of something they thought they’d forgotten.
Going back to why Leicester City is the only club to be featured over three pages. Well the reason is because a nice aspect of the book is that it is split into the first half, and you’ve guessed it, the second half. In the aptly named half time section there are four well written articles called Tales from the Terraces by fans of Grimsby Town, Northampton Town and one written by good friend of The City Gent Matt Lawson who edits the Scarborough AFC fanzine Abandon Chip as well as a piece written about football kits down the ages. This section is a lovely touch and a welcome break that enhances the book and these articles would not look out of place in When Saturday Comes.
In the couple of days or so since receiving the book I’ve flicked through the rest of Around the Grounds and it is absolutely packed with really interesting stuff about each and every club and what’s really good, is that it is written by fans who know so much more about their own club. I think we’ll all got or seen books written by someone who thinks it’s a good idea to put together a guide to all of the clubs but who doesn’t have the in depth knowledge to produce something that isn’t strewn with errors. Chris Nelson has put together a something that I can thoroughly recommend to any football fan who takes an interest in what other football fans think of their clubs. As a guide you may not want to take it with you on an away trip to Macclesfield but as something to pick up and put down, dip in and out of, it is as the back cover says “full of insight into the life and personality of each team and those who support them”. Put this on your Christmas present wish list or if you can’t wait till then, go and buy it on the Footprint web site, Amazon or any other good book store.