Book Reviews

“Let me congratulate you on an impressive piece of research. I liked the meticulous way you have approached the topic but also the caution you have exhibited when making reasoned speculations. It should stand as a reference work on the early days of association football for a long time. You should be extremely proud of what you have produced. John Dewhurst and myself are currently working on developing a template for analysing the transition of football clubs into businesses and your book will give us considerable food for thought”.
Professor Wray Vamplew. Emeritus Professor of Sports History.
University of Stirling.Global Professorial Fellow.
University of Edinburgh Academy of Sport.
Visiting Research Professor, Manchester Metropolitan University.
Special Projects Editor, International Journal of the History of Sport

Bought and read the second edition and thought it even better than the first which was a tall order. I very much appreciated reading the latest edition which for me included new material I found particularly interesting and the production was superb. Well done – great job.
Graham Williams

“I’m actually a mathematician and not a ‘historian’ by trade, so, coming at football history from a different angle, one danger with something like this topic is that it can be a bit of a dry subject. That wasn’t the case with your book though which I found interesting throughout, with a real knack for picking out quirky stories that means there is something to appeal to any football fan, and not just a select number of history geeks! Around the Sheffield FC parts there was obviously a large amount I already knew about but it is so well written I enjoyed seeing that history through a different lens and didn’t skip a word! On top of that there is new research which I would say means the club has a better understanding of its own history and place in the development of the game as a result of your book”.
Andy Dixon Sheffield F.C.Historian

“Martin Westby’s dedicated research is a gift to all football history enthusiasts. Whilst providing a comprehensive history into the genesis of football and the importance of both Sheffield FC and Hallam FC it is the extra work that has gone into the smaller, defunct or forgotten clubs that tells the story of how engrained football was in Sheffield. Whereas some historians have shown reluctance to fully unpick the history of these clubs in a ‘ History of Sheffield Football’  Martin does so and thus acknowledges their importance in developing a city whose place in football history cannot be ignored. This well written and comprehensively researched book will become one of the must read books for all researching football’s true origins”. Clive Nicholson (Co-author of  Flying Over an Olive Grove: The Remarkable Story of Fred Spiksley)

“The book is obviously a labour of love and Martin Westby deserves congratulations on producing it in a nice edition. It’s well printed and bound and has a number of good illustrations and maps. I heartily recommend it”. Flashing Blade Fanzine No. 161 October 2017. 4 Cross Myrtle Road, Sheffield, S2 3EL

‘Martin’s new book feels like a complete life’s work and is brilliantly researched. Once I started reading I couldn’t put it down -A  a wonderful book’. Steve Basford (Chairman of Hallam Football Club)

In 1857 Sheffield FC was the first football club in the world. Six years later there were 33 and 11 of them came from Sheffield.The prehistory of the football in Sheffield formed for Martin Westby’s source of inspiration to write a book: ‘A History of Sheffield Football 1857-1899’.Sheffield celebrates this Years of jubilee tricks: 160 years,Sheffield FC, 150 years Sheffield Wednesday, 150 years Youdan Cup (oldest cup tournament according to knock-out system), 150 years Sheffield Football Association.
Panenka Football Magazine (Holland)

‘ONE OF THE GREAT FOOTBALL BOOKS’  by Mark Metcalf, co-author of FLYING OVER AN OLIVE GROVE. This is one of the best ever football books. Its author and publisher Martin Westby, who runs a British football magazines store called Soccerbilia, should be heartily congratulated for his considerable efforts and the accuracy he has achieved. Westby bases his investigations around Sheffield, where the first, Sheffield FC, and sec-ond, Hallam FC, clubs were formed and organised club football originated in the second half of the nineteenth century. Between 1857 & 1889, 95 Sheffield clubs existed. Delving into the newspaper archives of the time, Westby meticulously analyses why, by whom — there’s some remarkable characters in the book — and with what purposes a series of long since departed clubs such as Attercliffe FC & Dronfield FC began. Such examinations of the clubs & their personnel are combined throughout with an expla-nation of how the rules of football were changed & developed. Some of these changes were covered in our Flying Over an Olive Grove book on Fred Spiksley & the approval that we received from readers clearly indicated that football fans are hungry for such detailed analysis on changes to the laws of the game. Westby’s work is thus to be welcomed.

What will prove especially interesting for football fans is the author’s attempt, essential to his desire to create a chronological history of football clubs, to compose a set of rules that can be applied right across all clubs, past and ongoing, in order to try and ensure the claimed foundation dates can be measured against each other. So, for example, with the rules evolving between 1857 until 1871 – when the Rugby Foot-ball Union was formed, thus creating a clear distinction between Football and Rugby – then a club that began by playing Rugby before turning to Association Football is included and its foundation date is when the club was originally formed. This will please followers of Bradford teams. If a club claims an earlier date than any of the evidence assembled suggests then it must appear in the press of the time to confirm that earlier existence. As is now accepted as fact, Stoke did not exist before 1868 and were not formed in 1863 as it currently states on the Stoke City badge and website. Westby dates the formation of WBA as 1874 and not 1878 and he shows how Reverend Tiverton Preddy, the man credited with setting up Barnsley, did not actually get involved with the Tykes until the Easter of 1888 and not in September 1887 when the South York-shire club were formed. This is a great football book and well worth buying at £15.95.

‘Just finished reading your book.  Thank you for contributing to the debate on the development of football in Sheffield and surrounding area in such a refreshing and comprehensive way’.Keith Neill Co-author of ‘Three men and two villages: the influence of footballers from rural South Yorkshire on the early development of the game in Sheffield’

‘It looks amazing – can’t wait to get reading. If you love football and don’t own this – WHY?’

A superb effort. I look forward to reading it thoroughly. Roy France

‘An excellent book which provides both a good narrative history of the period and also serves as an encyclopaedic reference tool’. Michael Hudson.

‘Best of luck with book launch, I thoroughly enjoyed the book, great research and very interesting especially for local footy fans’. Ray King.