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The Best of Charles Buchan's "Football Monthly" Hardcover – 21 Oct 2006
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'For anyone with a sense of history this will be a compelling
David Lacey -- The Guardian, October 28 2006
'If I do not get a copy in my Christmas stocking I will sue
Andrew Baker -- Daily Telegraph, October 26 2006
'Superb' -- Time Out, November 8 2006
'This collection of excerpts from Britain's first football glossy
will satisfy any
sporting nostalgist' -- Esquire, November 2006
`Have been reading Simon Inglis's new book and the grin I am
wearing is so wide it hurts' Jim White -- Daily Telegraph, October 21 2006
After its launch in 1951, Charles Buchan's "Football Monthly" became a firm favourite amongst football fans of all ages, reaching sales of over 100,000 at its peak. It was in effect the first football 'glossy', with hand-tinted photographs on the cover and back page, some artistically vibrant as images in their own right. The magazine ran a boy's club, had a Dick Barton-style cartoon (Rex Martin) and regular articles by celebrities of the day. This colourful gift book is a selection of the best of this legendary magazine, spanning its 20-year existence. It reproduces, in facsimile format, articles, interviews, photographs, letters and advertisements from the magazine. It is a reminder of what many would consider to be football's glory days, when footballers weren't the highly paid media stars they are today, when Brylcreem was the only nod to fashion and when small boys made goalposts out of jumpers. The book will appeal to the football nostalgia market, but also to all soccer fans who are tired of today's rampant commercialism, preening players and Russian billionaires.
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`Charles Buchan's Football Monthly' was a highly successful publication during its two-decade lifespan, often selling more than two hundred thousand copies per month at its height. Simon Inglis, in the book's introduction traces the magazine's history and gives some background information about its regular contributors. The book is arranged in chronological order with each `chapter' headed by a brief passage about the events that took place during the years under discussion followed by selections from three or four years worth of issues.
This is not so much a history of football during those twenty years as a history of football talking points from that time. Along with the nostalgic innocence that those times evoke, perennial topics recur throughout. Notably, the poor state of the England team, the poor state of refereeing and, from the early 1960s, hooliganism.
Plenty of players put their names to articles including Albert Quixall of Sheffield Wednesday and England: May 1954: "I seem to be the only player in England to wear abbreviated shorts. I get more freedom of movement in the legs the higher the shorts are." West Bromwich Albion captain, Bobby Robson writes in September 1961 that the England team's success the previous season had been because of the 4-2-4 formation that the manager, Walter Winterbottom, had employed.
The magazine's regular contributors write eloquently about the game. Charles Buchan's editorials are sensible and plain speaking, while John Macadam has a more brouhaha `now look here, chaps' approach. There are also many occasional and one-off contributions from managers and officials. Sunderland manager, Bill Murray asks, "Whither are we going?" in a 1952 article about a possible change to the back-pass law. Wouldn't you love to hear one of today's top managers use that phrase?
Also included are some advertisements from the time. A Tottenham and England player recommends a certain `smooth' brand of cigarette, "I couldn't afford to smoke a cigarette that irritated my throat," he explains. A bullied youngster ("He was `SHRIMP' to the boys at the baths!") discovers that in just two weeks he can have "muscles like granite - but flexible as whalebone" for only 2'6.
Examples of the different lifestyles enjoyed by players of today and yesteryear are to be found in Leslie Yates' `Soccer Sideshow' pages. Here we learn of players' family holidays in Bognor Regis and Cliftonville; Ron Atkinson's close-season window cleaning business, and a Stoke City player's other job as a designer of ladies' shoes.
This superb book will be enjoyed by football fans who were around during those twenty years. The immediacy of the topics discussed within its pages will also appeal to those who are interested in football's recent past, but who do not want to read a conventional history book. Each section ends with a list of honours for the years covered, but there are few references to these matters in the text. The book's very nature makes it easy to just dip into for a few moments, or to luxuriate in its enthusiastic prose. A grand book indeed!
WAGs? Well, there are plenty of wives pictured with their husbands. One Bolton star and his wife are photographed enjoying a game of Canasta. I suppose some things do change.
The foreigners played a different game but we still had football boots that you could have shod a horse with, shinpads as thick as a side of beef, and a football that would definitely be banned under current health and safety regulations.
They may have smoked at half-time, had second (and third) jobs, gone on holiday to Cliftonville but the heroes of 66 all did it the hard way and triumphed in the end.
Many thanks to the original contributors to the 'Football Monthly', and to Simon Inglis who has clearly taken time and effort to compile this excellent addition to anyone's sporting library.