Still with us: Darwen

The town of Darwen in east Lancashire hosts one of the oldest surviving former Football League clubs, with the current AFC Darwen a continuation of the original Darwen FC, founded in the early 1870s. It’s the smallest town ever represented in the top division, and it also holds some unwanted records.


Touching Distance book review

The 1995-96 Premier League season was the closest Newcastle United have come to winning the title since 1927, and the team, labelled the Entertainers, was the best the club have had since the 1950s. A review of the book Touching Distance by Martin Hardy for When Saturday Comes.


Inside out

In the winter of 1905, an American entrepreneur launched an eccentric scheme to create Britain’s first indoor football league. Based at London’s Olympia, the scheme was opposed by the FA and ended in disaster for its protagonists. Written for When Saturday Comes and also published by The Guardian.


Screen Test: The Game

Revisiting Danny Baker’s Sunday League football TV show The Game, featuring hungover players and forgotten boots, potato-patch pitches and taped-up goal-nets, half-time cigarettes and full-time cans of lager, and plenty of swearing, plus at least one ball that ends up under a passing London bus.


British football’s biggest crowd

The date was Saturday 17 April 1937, the match was Scotland versus England at Hampden Park, Glasgow. It was the first all-ticket international. The official attendance was 149,407. Written for The Blizzard, this is the story of Britain’s biggest-ever football crowd.


Fathers of Football book review

Britain may not have invented football, but it did knock it into shape – drawing up rules, forming clubs, organising competitions, and sending the association version out into the world via travelling migrants who became football missionaries. A review of Keith Baker’s book Fathers of Football.


The Lost Pirate of Blackbeard’s Golden Age

Edward Robinson lived a life of high adventure alongside history’s most infamous pirates. But was he really a murderous sea-robber, and did he deserve his brutal fate? Abridged from Sins Dyed In Blood: The Lost Pirate of Blackbeard’s Golden Age and published in Expost Magazine at Medium.


Half-time: a history

Footballers haven’t always had 15 minutes to catch their breath. The original Laws of the Game included no reference to half-time, and instead required teams to change ends after each goal was scored. A short piece on the history of half-time for FourFourTwo.


Sins Dyed In Blood

Edward Robinson was a British pirate who sailed with Blackbeard during the Golden Age of Piracy in the early 1700s. But was he really a murderous sea-robber, and did he deserve his brutal fate? This is the true swashbuckling story of the Newcastle Pirate.

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How to become a sporting journalist

BJ Evans was a pioneer of early football reporting, and his 1946 book How to Become a Sporting Journalist reveals some of his methods, which required binoculars, a bicycle and two carrier pigeons in a basket. Written for When Saturday Comes and also published by The Guardian.