New Unofficial Football World Champions

Unofficial Football World ChampionshipsA new revised and updated edition of my Unofficial Football World Champions book is out today, and available from all good book shops, including Amazon and Book Depository.

The book traces football’s unofficial champions from the very first international match in 1872, and tells hundreds of stories involving legendary teams and footballing minnows, classic finals and forgotten friendlies, celebrated players and unsung heroes.

This is the third edition of the book that FourFourTwo magazine called ‘a fascinating history of football’ in a five-star review. The new edition is expanded to include new matches, teams, players and statistics, and is fully up to date to the start of 2014, featuring all 879 UFWC title matches played between 1872 and 2014, and all 48 unofficial football world champions – right up to current champions Uruguay.

The book is available in paperback and on Kindle, with other ebook formats coming soon. You can order it from Amazon, and see a ‘Look Inside’ preview, by clicking on the link below.

Unofficial Football World Champions

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A fag at half-time

FourFourTwoThe latest issue of FourFourTwo magazine includes my feature on smoking in football, which looks at the changing relationship between tobacco and the beautiful game.

“When Jack Wilshere smoked a cigarette outside a London nightclub after Arsenal’s Champions League win over Napoli earlier this season, he inadvertently sparked up the burning issue of smoking in football. Photos of the England midfielder smoking made front page news, despite the fact that he is by no means the first footballer to have enjoyed a sneaky gasper.”

Read the full story in the February 2014 issue of FourFourTwo.


Baker and Kelly’s VSPO

Baker and Kelly's VSPO Victorian Football SpecialI was a guest of Danny Baker and Danny Kelly on Baker and Kelly’s VSPO Victorian Football Christmas Special on BT Sport this week (27 December). My TV debut (and some are already saying finale…) was to promote The Victorian Football Miscellany, which Danny Baker very kindly said on air was, “one of the greatest books ever written about football since Charlie Buchan put down his pen.” Obviously, that quote is going on the cover of any reprint.

In the hour-long show we discussed some of Victorian football’s most colourful characters, looked at how footballs were made from pig’s bladders, saw how shinpads were invented, and then recreated a Victorian football match. There were also tales of bizarre moments in Victorian football, Christmas ghost stories from footballers, Victorian tarot card readings, and toasters powered by a penny farthing. In keeping with the Victorian theme, we were dressed in period costumes with appropriate facial hair, which (thankfully!) rendered me virtually unrecognisable. By the end of the show viewers were no doubt in agreement with Danny Baker when he said Victorian football “makes today’s game look like a lot of fuss about nothing”.

A clip from the show is available to watch via the Daily Mirror website.

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Football on Christmas Day

FourFourTwoA festive feature for FourFourTwo magazine, this piece looks at the lost tradition of football on Christmas Day, and includes tales of drunken players, fan protests, mass riots, abandoned goalkeepers, and lots of snow.

“For football fans, the Christmas period serves up a real festive feast, with fixtures stuffed into the calendar like sage and onion into a turkey’s nether regions. Christmas Day, however, is a football-free zone, with supporters left to sit indoors and endure the Queen’s speech, cracker jokes, and kisses from elderly relatives. This wasn’t always the case as, up until the 1950s, football was traditionally played on Christmas Day…”

Read the full story in the January 2014 issue of FourFourTwo.