Sunday, 31 May 2015

Book Review - A History of Bradford City AFC in Objects

To begin with, I feel I must start this review with an apology. I received this book before Christmas and fully intended to write this there and then, but as with a lot of things these days, the time to sit down and write anything that would do this book justice just never happened. So John, my heartfelt apologies that it's taken so long to get this on the site...

A History of Bradford City AFC in Objects (herein known as AHoBCAFCiO - the chemical symbol for AmberClaretide I believe) by John Dewhirst is exactly what the title says it is.

Often with these sort of books, there seems to be 2 possible routes to go down. The first is the text-heavy affair with either a few black and white photos scattered throughout, or a centre section where all pictures reside. The second is the reverse, where there's pictures aplenty, but one gets the feeling they're their to make up for a lack of substance.

This tome bucks both of those trends by managing to cram not only over 1000 pictures of memorabilia from the club's 112 year history, but also fills its 340+ pages with an inordinate amount of prose (67000 words in fact!) John makes the point in his intro that he could have followed the trend and written a history in 100 objects, but his rationale was 'why impose an arbitrary limit?' and anyone who owns this book should be grateful for that decision.

With the book broken down into related sections such as Club Crests, Playing Strips etc, rather than a chronological journey, it works perfectly well for those who devour their books in one sitting and for those (like me) who prefer to dip in and out when time allows.

One of the two largest chapters covers the expected subject of Merchandise & Memorabilia. Within you'll find a huge array of old skool staples such as scarves, pennants and badges and the more modern items of tat...BCAFC Energy Drink anyone? Don't worry, you can clean your teeth with an official BCAFC toothbrush after and stuff the lot in a Bantams bum bag! One of my favourite ads from this section is entitled Talking Shop and looks like it's from the mid 80s. Alongside your wool hats and scarves, you can also get a wall plaque for 50p, an acrylic jumper for £9.99 and a belt for 50p. Best of all, for only 75p, you can get not only Men's Pants, but Women's Panties...an item I'm pretty sure never sold out.

The other big chapter is devoted to Club Documents and Publications, which, as well as providing plenty of examples of tickets, calendars and newspapers, also has a delightful selection of letters from the club on such subjects as acknowledging another club's interest in an outside forward and their application to rejoin the Northern Section of the football league. The main bulk of this chapter is reserved for the fittingly named 'The Evolution of the BCAFC Programme', which takes you from the earliest sheets of paper through to the modern day, glossy type. It's also interesting to note how often the name of the programme has changed in recent years, having operated under the standard title of 'Official Programme' for most of its historical life.

To sum up, there is a stickered quote on the front of my copy from Hunter Davis, which simply reads "this is the best illustrated history of any club I have ever read" and I have absolutely no reason whatsoever to disagree.

A History of Bradford City AFC in Objects is available via Amazon

--by Rich Johnson

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