Turf Wars: A History of London Football – 6/9/16

Pretty much every major football club boasts a book or two recording its history from formation until the present day. Given the growing number of statisticians and frustrated writers out there for whom this is a real labour of love, many of them are of a truly exceptional standard and boast a combination of deep and painstaking research, well chosen words that paint striking verbal pictures and startling photographs which bring so many previously half forgotten episodes back to life.

Given the size and stature of our club we Brentford fans have certainly been well served in this area and I doubt if there are many serious fans of the club who do not possess a copy of the unparalleled and inimitable 100 Years of Brentford, a true treasure and cornucopia of riches from start to finish.

The 125th Anniversary book was also a massively impressive work of art incorporating as it did so many wonderfully evocative press clippings from days of yore.

The 70s, 80s and 90s have all been celebrated recently with their own comprehensive Big Brentford Book and there is also a serviceable Who’s Who edition.

I am really not sure if there are many gaps remaining to be filled for Bees fans who have already been so well catered for.

I hope and expect that work has already started on an oral history celebrating Griffin Park our home for 112 years now and one that will be sorely missed when the long awaited and much anticipated Lionel Road stadium finally comes to fruition.

There has also been thought given to a Harry Curtis Years book commemorating the club’s glory days when the legendary Secretary/Manager took them from the depths of the Third Division to near the top of the First.

This would be my personal favourite and I am aware that Dave Lane, author of the two excellent Cult Bees and Legends interview books has been researching Harry Curtis and so far without success attempting to locate some of his descendants.

Hopefully this book will become a reality rather than a pipe dream as I never tire of being reminded of the times when the mighty Bees were a team to be feared and Arsenal in particular fell foul of us on many occasions in the few years leading up to the Second World War.

Maybe Mark Croxford will also be tempted to publish an updated Who’s Who book given his painstaking levels of research and knowledge and perhaps one day we will finally be treated to the long awaited and anticipated anthology of the writings of the much admired Middlesex Chronicle journalist George Sands who watched the Bees play over one thousand times without missing a match.

I make a point of seeking out other historical books that I feel have special merit and my efforts were certainly rewarded very recently.

Many years ago as a young child I read and relished David Prole’s Football in London and I have been waiting in vain ever since for it to be updated or replaced. It provided an indepth analysis and history of the main protagonists in the London football scene up until the mid 60s.

My eternal gratitude now goes to Steve Tongue who has used his experience and knowledge of the London football scene gained over many years as a leading football journalist to provide a well organised, fascinating and comprehensive history of all the London football clubs, amateur and professional alike.

I have long enjoyed and admired his erudite and pithy match reports in a variety of publications and if I recall correctly I was once a teammate of his on a dank and gloomy Sunday morning at Wormwood Scrubs many, many years ago when we both played for Brian Glanville’s Chelsea Casuals team.

Tongue has sensibly and cleverly divided the book into eras and writes about each club forensically and with humour and knowledge with a keen eye for spotting patterns and trends and, most impressively not for one moment does he let slip any evidence of personal bias or self interest. A casual reader of this book would have no idea about his long and deeply held passion for Leyton Orient.

The book is short in pages but long in information and has been beautifully produced with loving care by the admirable Pitch Publishing who have been responsible for so many exceptional sports books recently.

It is a real gem and sensibly priced at a mere £9.99. I can wholeheartedly recommend it to all students of London football and as far as I am concerned, it was well worth the wait.

Turf Wars: A History of London Football by Steve Tongue. Pitch Publishing. £9.99.

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