This week’s Reading the Game book review is of a book I discovered via Twitter; Scotland’s Lost Clubs by Jeff Webb. The microblogging site is often a bit of a binfire – especially when it comes to football – but sometimes, it is brilliant. Here’s an example: I wasn’t following Jeff at New Year, but a tweet he sent out selling signed copies of Scotland’s Lost Clubs appeared in my timeline. It occurred to me that I knew very little about football north of Hadrian’s Wall so we swapped DMs, I sent some money via PayPal and that was that. I’d probably never have found this book without that innocent bit of scrolling.
Scotland’s Lost Clubs featured detailed profiles of 17 clubs who are no longer with us, including the infamous and fairly recent implosions of Gretna, Clydebank and Airdrieonians. Older stories, such as the demise of early giants such as Renton and Third Lanark are also included. These chapters are preceded by a look at how the original Scottish League was formed and followed by a chapter each for defunct clubs from the East, West and South of Scotland where there was perhaps not enough information available for more in-depth profiles. The final chapter is a look at successor clubs who have replaced some of those which were lost.
Over more than 250 pages, Scotland’s Lost Clubs tells cautionary tales, hard luck stories and talks of clubs which, in some cases, slipped quietly into oblivion. Jeff Webb is an engaging writer who has clearly done a lot of research and his first book is all the better for it. From the village team who won the Scottish Cup and briefly held a claim to being ‘Champions of the World’ through to the Icarus-like rise and fall of Gretna, Scotland’s Lost Clubs isn’t just a football history book; it’s a book about how Scotland has changed over the last 150 years and how the nation’s evolution has altered its football landscape.
This is a hugely readable book; a long train journey positively flew by with Scotland’s Lost Clubs to occupy me and I learned a great deal. If you’re a fan of Scottish football, or interested in the history of the game in general, this book should be on your wish list. You can even give it a ‘test drive’ if you like; Pitch Publishing have provided a sample chapter on their website.
Scotland’s Lost Clubs probably isn’t available direct from the author at the moment, as I understand he recently started a new job. However, you could get a copy from Stanchion, or wherever you buy your books. It might not be signed, but it will be an excellent read.