Read More: Football and History

  • by Antony Ramm, Information and Research, Central Library.

This is an entry in our Read More series. These are ‘long-form’ articles, where staff offer a curated and detailed look at areas of our book collections, usually based around a specific theme or subject. These posts aim to guide the interested reader through to those books that offer a more in-depth look at a topic, or which are classics in their field.

Now that the domestic football season has begun we thought it an appropriate time to draw your attention to the Information and Research collection of the Rothmans Football Yearbooks (now the Sky Sports Football Yearbook).

Rothmans Football Yearbooks display
Rothmans Football Yearbooks display

This famous series started in the 1970-71 season – though our collection only runs from 1971-72. These books cover every possible detail imaginable about the previous year’s football, domestic, continental and international – scores, line-ups and a whole host of other fascinating facts, figures and statistics. Most football fans of a certain age will recall the many youthful hours spent trawling through these volumes; their value today lay as much in the Proustian rush of nostalgia evoked by their pages as in their usefulness for historical research. A Saturday afternoon spent flicking through this collection, while taking in the score updates from grounds around Britain, would be many people’s idea of a Saturday well spent. Though, depending on your choice of team, a journey through these volumes can be more pain than pleasure: it has certainly been a good long while since Leeds United have been as successful as in the 1973-1974 season!

Leeds United results in the title winning 1973-74 season
Leeds United results in the title winning 1973-74 season

The Rothman volumes are available to view by asking staff in the Information and Research library. Other interesting books covering football history that are held by the department – all available to loan – include The People’s Game: A Social History of British Football (James Walvin); Association Football and English Society: 1863-1915 (Tony Mason) and the official histories of both the Football Association and the Football League (both authored by Byron Butler). The 1990 edition of The Football Grounds of Europe (Simon Inglis) is especially fascinating, offering photographs and detail about many major European stadia immediately prior to the post-Italia ’90 gentrification of the game. Speaking of Italia ’90, All Played Out: The Full Story of Italia ’90 is one of the best football books ever written, an invaluable record of the sport at a crucial turning point in its history – by an author with something important to say about England and the English.

Finally, for much more on Leeds United – including player/team records, biographies and match-day programmes – pay a visit to our Local and Family History library. You can be sure we will be blogging on this subject again as we approach the centenary of the team’s founding in 1919

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