WE all have a quirky pub chat tale of some description to tell about football but a lifelong West Ham fan and Londoner born and bred has one that will beat a lot.
Michael Grimes decided to make an odyssey round the 12 Welsh Premier League clubs after being captivated by the results given out on BBC’s Final Score each Saturday.
I could relate to this in a way as donkey’s years ago I had a bizarre compulsion to visit all the clubs in the South Western League having been fascinated as a child by the league’s results in our Sunday paper which gave the fortunes of such exotic teams as Bugle, St Blazey, Tavistock and Millbrook. Alas, my road trip never happened though I did see a few games when on holiday in the area many years later.
Michael’s book, From Saints to Druids – A Discovery of Welsh Football, chronicles his adventures round the Principality and to be fair it is an entertaining and light-hearted read which offers an insight into how football fans ‘over the Dyke’ view our national league.
I always think you should learn something from a book but to be honest I didn’t think I could glean much from Saints to Druids – wrong! Each club visit carries a brief bit of history about the local area and I was fascinated to learn a little piece of TV trivia from Michael’s visit to Connah’s Quay.
I was well aware the Quay has a long and illustrious nautical history but I was completely unaware that the Lizzie May, the vessel that starred in 70s BBC television drama The Onedin Line, was built there in 1900 by local shipbuilders Ferguson and Baird and is today moored in Liverpool’s Albert Dock and still in a sailable condition.
It’s that kind of book really, a nicely balanced mix of fact, trivia and personal opinion written in a light, witty style that makes it easy to read either cover to cover in one go or by just dipping in chapter by chapter,
I particularly enjoyed the author’s quite self-deprecating sense of humour, on his way to Airbus he boarded a bus at Chester and asked for ‘Browton’ which drew a quizzical look from the driver who put him right on the pronunciation of Broughton.
He also mentions dropping his wife off ‘in a pub for a few drinks with her knitting’ on one trip as his other half is none too keen on the Beautiful Game.
On leaving an evening game at Penybont for an overnight stop in Swansea he writes: ‘Another Airbnb in Swansea, a walk through the Friday night high street and students drinking, singing and puking. I suppose that life doesn’t do anything for me anymore, just put me on a train with a new football ground to go to and I’m as happy as a pig in shit.”
If you have an interest in Welsh football I strongly recommend FSTD, it is a refreshing change from the usual ‘groundhopping’ books and makes a welcome and diverse addition to anyone’s library.
From Saints to Druids – A Discovery of Welsh Football is available from www.dognduck.net – price £7.99 plus £2 postage and packing.