When a new football season begins, boys from around the country rush to their local newsagents in the hope of acquiring the latest football cards. I remember in 2005 begging a friend to swap me Shola Ameobi for Titus Bramble and being refused many times, until we eventually decided the trade with a penalty shootout – the first to score would win both cards.
But that is a different time and a different generation, as explored by Michael Scullion in A Collection of Football Memorabilia: A Gallery of North East Football Starts.
Scullion explores the fortunes of North East and English football in the 1960’s using football cards. The book begins with personal messages and turmoil when Michael talks about the choices that he and his twin brother, Lawrence, had to make when choosing which football club to support. He then talks about how the choice between Newcastle and Sunderland was a “poisoned chalice” as both clubs hadn’t won major honours in 40 years, other than 2nd Division titles.
The book then goes on to discuss the fortunes of North East and English football throughout the 1960’s using information about transfers, management and of course football cards. All three major North East football clubs are talked about at length, which gives an insight into the trials and tribulations that all three clubs went through during the 1960’s. How Middlesbrough were relegated to division three in 1966 and how Sunderland’s star striker Brian Clough broke his leg and never played football again.
The football cards being the prominent idea for the book, it contains a variety of images spanning across the 1960’s with many North East legends. From Bob Moncur to Charlie Hurley (both are on the front cover), the author even has to admit that some of his all time favourites like Bobby Charlton and George Best had to be presented within the pages.
Betting Scandals from the likes of Tony Kay and Peter Swan are also mentioned and discussed at length, along with the discussion of shock deaths and injuries – this book covers pretty much every aspect of North East football.
Of course, something that some Newcastle fans still hold in high regard is their last major trophy, which is obviously a strong personal issue for author, Michael Scullion. I still sometimes wonder if I will ever see a major trophy be paraded through the streets of Newcastle, but the time for that is still yet to come and the book presents faces of the famous 11 who won us the Inter City Fairs Cup.
The book also analyses a time that all England fans are told about as the pinnacle of English football, with Dads and Grandads still shouting about where they were on the famous day England won the World Cup.
Having captivated the interest of this 16-year-old, knowledge was of the essence after turning the final page. The North East is often claimed as the place to come for football, and this book is another reason to enjoy the rich football tradition that is held within this region. Newcastle, Sunderland and Middlesbrough are often overlooked in annuals (even today Manchester and London Clubs often grace the covers of football magazines and annuals alike), but this book finally sets the record straight.