Posted: 6th July 2015
‘An attractively produced momento’.
That was how the role of the very first F.A. Year Book was described in the preface to the 1948/49 edition (see above).
Looking back at these slim annuals, published from just after World War Two, I’d say that that claim was well founded, although the year books changed in design in the mid 1990’s and from 1997/98 changed name to The Official F.A. and England Yearbook reflecting the national associations desire to promote their flagship team as the new Premier League began to gain strength.
Certainly, the front covers of the year books were really great images of the game as it evolved. Also, the contents and layout of the year books were designed in a way that made them easy to read without any clutter.
The year books were part of a range of publications produced by the F.A. as mouthpieces for the activities and policies of the national association. The F.A. Book for Boys as well as the F.A. Bulletin and the other magazines used as the official journal of the Football Association have been written about elsewhere on the blog (see the Football Annuals and Football Magazines sections on the site’s Football homepage).
In addition to those posts, this brief guide to the F.A. Year Book completes a trio of articles looking back at how the F.A. covered and promoted the game from the post war years into the modern era.
As well as being a nice momento of the previous season with a brief look forward to the next one through the fixture list, as the preface mentioned above stated, the annuals were not designed to compete with all the other pocket book football annuals available on the market where the emphasis was very much on statistics and records.
With small changes, the format used for the year book was kept pretty much the same, certainly through to the late 1990’s.
In terms of size, the year books were a bit different to other football annuals of their time in that they were a half way house between the larger boys’ annuals which were usually around A4 size and the smaller pocket annuals which were about half the C5 size of the F.A. Year Books.
Initially, through to the early 1970’s the year books had quite a slim feel about them but later with both changes in the type of paper used and expanding content, or both, the year books got a bit thicker.
The front covers as we shall see below showed some marvellous images of the game as it evolved in the post war era.
After the title and contents pages, the year book contents were prefaced by an introductory message by the incumbent Secretary of the F.A.
This post was held at the start of the year book’s life by Sir Stanley Rous who was followed by Denis Follows, then Ted Croker and then, Graham Kelly who was the first person in charge of the daily business of the F.A. to be called a Chief Executive, in a way, consistent with the way the game was moving towards a business and money driven approach.
The introduction was the place where the Secretary could say his piece about any issue or issues in the game. This was the opportunity to preach the organisation’s gospel. The introductions tried to strike a balance between appropriate explanation and overblown self promotion of activities and policy.
Having read through them, often it was difficult to establish exactly what key point was being made.
Most of the messages tended to appeal to everyone’s nobler motives by trying to get the game’s stakeholders, including fans, to work together, criticise less and seek to improve all aspects of the sport. But the introductions were not long pieces and were usually a bit short on specifics.
After the introduction, there was usually a leading article followed by the main content of the year books which was centred around some core topics. All the year books included reports, records and statistics on the subject of the England team at national, youth and schools levels, the F.A. Cup and F.A. Amateur Cup and the previous season in the 4 Divisions of the Football League.
The year covered was the season prior to the one named on the cover although that current season’s fixtures were always included towards the back of the year book.
These subjects were supplemented by a variety of other articles and features on an eclectic range of topics on the game from coaching, coaches and the role of the manager, player issues surrounding the profession of a footballer, the organisation of the game, officiating, the state of football in overseas countries, stadia and pitch development and boots, studs, balls and equipment and the amateur game, as well as numerous aspects of the games’ history back to the late Victorian era.
The phrase ‘attractively produced momento’ suggests more a snap-shot of the season as opposed to a detailed record and for most of its’ life, the F.A. Year Book probably settled somewhere in the middle of these two scenarios only beginning to resemble something closer to the pocket football annuals as the decades elapsed.
Like many of the pocket annuals, the length of the year book increased as the years went by and the annual became thicker but the extra content was down to the need to record the ever expanding scope of the game both domestically and overseas and in club and international football. Indeed, the additional articles decreased as time went by.
The year book was published by various different companies including the Naldrett Press, Heinemann, Pelham Books, Pan Books and Stanley Paul.
Let’s have a look back at the F.A. Year Book by decade.
This review will take us to the late 1990’s by which time, the year books were positioned very much as an England year book.
Unlike most memorabilia, it is the recent editions of the year book, from 2000 onwards, which are the scarce ones while the early editions, other than the first two editions are reasonably easy to find. Usually, it’s the early editions of most titles which are difficult to find and recent ones in plentiful supply.
1940’s – A new annual is launched
The first issue of the new F.A. Year Book was before the start of the 1948/49 season.
The contents had a historic feel to start the annual on its’ way.
There were features on the histories of the Football Association, F.I.F.A. and the Football League.
The England team and its’ past results since the beginning of international football was covered.
There were two interesting pictorial features on the greats of both the professional and amateur sides of the game. These features used small photographs and pen pictures of the selected players.
First was a 3 page feature called ‘Great Professionals From The Past’ and this was followed by a similar pictorial feature, ‘Great English Amateurs from the Past’;
The 1947/48 season was covered with features on the two flagship F.A. competitions, the F.A. Cup and the F.A. Amateur Cup.
There were also summaries of the previous season in all the divisions of the Football League and tables of all the main Leagues in amateur football.
The fixtures for the upcoming season were included as well as the laws of the game.
The title now emphasised the official aspect of the year book.
The front cover of the second edition of the year book showed a nice action image of a match at Highbury, although at this stage, the players and their teams were not noted.
Consistent with other F.A. publications of the time, the content of the Year Book focused on the F.A. Coaching Scheme.
Building on the post-war commitment of the nation to get back to normal, the enthusiasm for football was used as a platform to promote heavily a scheme designed to get more people playing the game and playing it better than before.
The edition also focused on similar topics as the first issue; the England team, the F.A. Cup and F.A. Amateur Cup.
1950’s – The Rous decade
As the 1950’s began, now an established annual, the F.A. Year Book continued to promote the F.A.’s policies and activities.
Front covers through the decade invariably included an action photograph involving a goalkeeper attempting to deal with a cross or shot.
Continuing to use the structure of the first two editions, through the decades that follow, the year books included reports, records and statistics on the core subjects of the England team at national, youth and schools levels, the F.A. Cup and F.A. Amateur Cup and the previous season in the 4 Divisions of the Football League.
As we go through the year books year by year below, beneath the image of each front cover, I’ve put a summary of the articles and features of note included in addition to the core subjects above which were repeated and updated in each edition.
The front cover of the 3rd edition showed an action photograph from England‘s international against Italy.
In his introduction to the 3rd edition, Stanley Rous emphasised how the year books had created a channel for communication between the F.A. and its’ public.
As well as the usual features on England, the cup competitions and the season in the divisions of the Football League, the contents of the 3rd edition included features on football pools, football in India, Sunday football and how a number of British coaches were promoting the game in various coaching roles abroad.
For those interested in the amateur game, there was an article on the history of the Isthmian League.
The look back at the game’s past continued with a pen picture feature similar to the ones before called ‘Great Centre Forwards of the Past’.
The front cover of the 4th edition showed an action scene from a Tottenham Hotspur v. Blackpool match with the shelf underneath the East Stand in the background, packed with fans.
Rous’ introduction looked at the issue of television and its’ potential impact on the game.
The leading article looked at the F.A. Coaching scheme.
There was a look at football in Australia, Switzerland and domestically at the work of the County Associations.
For the historians, there was a look back at the story of the Northern League.
The pen pictures feature looked at ‘Leading Centre Half-Backs’.
In the advertisements at the back of the year book, Arsenal’s winger and England cricketer Denis Compton could be found smiling out at readers as he endorsed Brylcream. This was quite a new development and the start of player endorsement of products, something so normal today.
Stanley Rous’ introduction attempted to re-assure readers that the F.A. were doing their best to deal with all the various challenges facing the game.
The front cover showed a goalmouth action scene but didn’t say which match or teams.
The leading article looked, perhaps a bit arrogantly, at the issue of England’s supremacy and how other nations were catching up with us. This was an ironic topic to discuss considering the fact that England had not won the 1950 World Cup (the first time the team had entered the competition) and the shattering defeats that the side was about to receive at the hands of Hungary with impacts that some people would say remain even today.
Articles also looked at the role of a professional, football in South Africa, the question of selecting an international team, a discussion about the pros and cons of Throw-ins v. Kick-ins and also a history of the Southern League.
The pen pictures feature looked at ‘Leading Referees of the Past’.
Finally, on the inside back cover was an advertisement for Smiths Empire Watches where Blackpool’s Stanley Matthews could be seen showing one of the time pieces to his son in another example, like Denis Compton above, of a star player getting involved with product endorsement.
Again, the front cover showed a goalkeeper making a save but did not say which teams or players.
The F.A.’s 90th birthday was mentioned in Stanley Rous’ introduction.
Later in the year book, there was an article about the F.A.’s history with some excellent historical photographs.
There were also article about changes in styles of play, football in the United States, floodlit football, referees and Football and Fine Arts.
The pen pictures feature focused on ‘Overseas Captains’.
From this edition of the year book, the players on the front cover were identified on the early inside front pages.
This edition showed Blackpool’s Stan Mortensen playing for England at Wembley against Hungary in the fateful international which sent such a shock wave through world football after Hungary beat England 6-3 on their own hallowed turf.
Following the double thrashing by the Hungary, there was an article about the Magyars and their impact on the game.
There were also articles about tactics and ability, football in Trinidad, FIFA’s 50th birthday and another feature on Football and Fine Arts.
The pen pictures feature focused on ‘Leading Outside Rights’.
The front cover showed Tottenham Hotspur’s Dave Dunmore, supported by George Robb challenging West Bromwich Albion’s Jimmy Sanders supported by Jimmy Dugdale.
The introduction talked about the issue of discovering new talent in the game.
There were also features on the penalty kick, the pools, goalkeepers, boots and referees.
The pen pictures feature focused on ‘Leading Outside Lefts’.
The front cover showed another goal-mouth action shot with Bolton Wanderers’ goalkeeper Ken Grieves, protected by defender Roy Hartle stopping the threat of Wolves’ forward Roy Swinburne (behind Hartle).
Rous’ introduction talked about new ideas for the game.
The leading article looked at England’s performance and place in the World game.
The new European Cup and Fairs Cup competition were covered with suggestions that here in English football, these competitions had been received with an insular approach, one which some believe is still an attitude of some all these years later.
In this context of growing European football, there was a feature on new European football stadia.
The pen pictures feature focused on ‘Leading Right Backs’
The front cover showed Arsenal’s Jack Kelsey being challenged by Manchester City’s Ken Dyson in a goal-mouth action shot from the match at Highbury.
The introduction raised the issue of craft as opposed to force in playing styles.
There was a feature on football stadia for the TV age and a World round-up with a summary of football in 11 strong football nations.
The pen pictures feature focused on ‘Leading Wing-Half Backs’.
The front cover shows Northern Ireland’s goalkeeper Harry Gregg and full backs Alf McMichael and Dick Keith defending their goial in the 3-2 defeat of England at Wembley.
Stanley Rous’ introduction talked about the Government’s inquiry into sport and its’ implications for football.
There were also features on comprehensive school football, training methods, football in China, a tribute to Manchester United after the tragedy of the Munich air disaster and also some comments on the relationship between the rise of football on television and falling attendances.
The front cover showed Fulham‘s goalkeeper Tony Macedo catching a cross with Lincoln City’s John Grainger behind him.
The introduction talked about the issue of youth.
The leading article looked back at England’s South American tour.
There were also features on football in prisons, studs and gamesmanship.
The pen pictures feature focused on ‘Leading Inside Forwards’.
1960’s – Follow Denis
Into the 1960’s with the game experiencing all sorts of changes, Stanley Rous was still the F.A.’s Secretary.
The year books carried on in the same vein as in the late 1950’s.
The front cover showed Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper Ron Springett and Peter Johnson keeping the ball out of their goal.
Stanley Rous talks about the need to deal with change in the game.
The quality of club coaching was raised in an article talking about a scepticism amongst some to the idea of players actually being coached.
Bilbao Athletic more commonly known today as Athletic Bilbao were included in a club feature.
There were also articles about the relationship (or otherwise) between attendance and league position, the block defence, Stanley Matthews and Tom Finney and the F.A. Youth Cup.
The front cover showed Chelsea‘s goalkeeper Peter Bonetti challenging West Ham United’s Phil Woosnam.
Stanley Rous’ introduction talked about progress through change in the context of an emerging England team of quality, Tottenham Hotspur’s double winning efforts and the abolition of maximum wage.
A lead article looked at England’s tactical evolution.
There were also articles on the impact of new unrestricted wages, the opportunities for indoor coaching, the timings of when goals are scored and the issue of medicine in football.
The advertisements included Umbro and Addidas advertisements including team pictures of the Tottenham Hotspur double winning side.
The front cover showed Manchester United’s Bobby Charlton in a tussle with Blackburn Rovers’ John Bray.
Denis Follows had just taken up his post as Secretary to the F.A. and in his introduction talked about setting standards.
There were articles on the 1962 World Cup, the New Deal vision for football laid out after the War by the F.A., Sunday football and the County Associations.
There was also a look at soccer’s next generation and how amateur and junior players could get noticed by the professional clubs.
The front cover showed an action shot from Highbury where Arsenal’s Eddie Magill was attempting to block a cross from Sheffield Wednesday’s Ed Holliday.
At the centenary of the F.A., Denis Follows’ introduction looked at next 100 years.
There was also a look back at the F.A.’s last 100 years, as well as features on refereeing and the tactics of defence.
The front cover showed West Ham United‘s goalkeeper Jim Standen who at that time was at the height of his career with both the Hammers in football but also with Worcestershire in cricket. In 1964, Standen had helped the Hammers to an F.A. Cup Final win in the spring and then gone on to help Worcestershire to a County Championship victory with his medium pace bowling and late middle order batting. Standen was one of a dying breed and you just don’t see footballer-cricketers or vice versa today.
In his introduction, Denis Follows talked about the need to support referees and how the referee had often become the most important man on the field of play, an interesting observation which chimes very much with statements and opinions held about the modern day game.
The leading article looked at all the changes going on in the game and the F.A’s response to them.
There was also an article looking at the future of international football considering the possible growth of the game around the world.
Also, the role of the club manager was looked at.
The front cover showed Coventry City’s Dietmar Bruck defending against Northampton Town’s Bobby Hunt.
Follows introduction raised the question of how much the F.A governed and if this was set at the right level.
The leading article was on the profession of being a footballer in which there was a photograph of recently retired Sir Stanley Matthews.
To recognise Matthews outstanding career, there was a separate article.
There was an article on rising soccer nations, including Australia as well as a review of European international matches between 1872 and 1964 and another look at the role of the club manager.
The front cover showed an action shot from the Scotland v. England home international at a packed Hampden Park. Scotland’s Denis Law is about to head the ball while England’s Bobby Moore and Bobby Charlton look on.
Denis Follows wrote about the future of professional football.
There were articles on the use of substitutes, the issue of defensive football, a preview of the 1970 World Cup in Mexico, coaching and over coaching and a look at ankle injuries.
The front cover showed England’s Johnny Haynes, a one club man at Fulham, coming towards the end of his career.
The introduction from Denis Follows commented on the inquiry into the state of football
The leading article covered the topic of international football law and lawlessness.
Within the section on England, the matches in the 1966 World Cup success were covered.
There were also articles on the story of Wembley stadium, football in Africa and the flight of the ball.
The front cover showed an action shot from the Scotland v. England match at Hampden Park with England’s Alan Ball harassing Scotland’s Tommy Gemmell.
Denis Follows talked about how to pan the season in order to minimise fixture congestion.
There was an article on the issue of style, details in the records section on England Under 23 appearances and the state of football in Asia.
The front cover showed Leeds United’s Mick Bates being tackled by Liverpool’s Chris Lawler at Elland Road.
Denis Follows’ introduction talked about changes in the laws of the game being proposed in the United States in order to help grow the game there.
The leading article covered the topic of the new style of international footballer.
There was also a history of the Football League included in the edition.
1970’s – Ted takes over
The new decade began with the anticipation of the 1970 World Cup in Mexico with England one of the favoured teams.
The year book continued as before although some changes would take place as the decade unfolded, as we shall see.
There would also be a change of Secretary with Ted Croker taking over from Denis Follows.
The front cover showed a sort of ‘man v.boy’ image with Sheffield Wednesday’s seasoned veteran Gerry Young taking on a very young Steve Perryman who would have been around 19 years-old in the photograph and in one of his early games for Tottenham Hotspur, having made his debut in the 1969/70 season.
In his introduction, Denis Follows discussed the differing interpretation of the laws of the game and how that caused problems in international football.
There was an article on crowd behaviour which was raising its’ ugly head.
There was a report on the 1970 World Cup.
In the statistics section, there was a list of England caps between 1946-1970.
The question of schools for footballers was covered, an interesting subject considering the millions spent on academies by clubs currently.
The diagonal system of officiating was discussed and there was a feature on social behaviour and sport.
The front cover showed Everton’s Alan Ball taking on the club he was about to join, Arsenal with the Gunners’ George Graham competing with ‘Bally’.
Denis Follows’ introduction talked about the possibilities of regional leagues outlining proposals which very much match the way a large part of the non league pyramid is now structured 40 years later.
There was a feature on the future of European competitions and one on football administration at county level.
There were also lists of the dimensions of pitches throughout the 92 league clubs and another one showing when all the league clubs made their league debuts.
The front cover showed Manchester Unitd’s David Sadler taking on Wolves’ Derek Doogan at Molyneux.
Denis Follows introduction call for unity in the game.
The leading article looked back at a century of international football.
There were also features on the European Championships, the issue of coaching and how it should be used, the big issue of tackling from behind.
For the statisticians, there was an interesting set of charts showing where all the league clubs had been located by division by season.
The front cover showed Norwich City’s David Cross taking on Crystal Palace’s John McCormack at Selhurst Park.
In what would be Denis Follows last introduction, he made another call for unity amongst all the game’s stakeholders.
The lead article looked at negative play and managers and teams adopting a playing philosophy based on fear of defeat.
There was a look at a century of European international matches and also a preview of the 1974 World Cup to be played in West Gemany.
Front cover showed an action shot from the 1974 FA Cup Final in which Liverpool beat Newcastle United 3-0. John Toshack is taking on the Toon defenders.
Ted Croker wrote the introduction in his new role of Secretary to the F.A., having replaced Denis Follows.
There was a leading article reviewing the state of play in the game, a review of FIFA and a feature discussing the possibility of a combined Headquarters for both the F.A. and the Football League.
Front cover showed a goalmouth action shot from the F.A. Cup Final in which a Fulham side including Bobby Moore took on West Ham United who Moore had recently left after spending all his career from junior days in the late 1950’s with the Hammers.
Ted Croker’s introduction raised the question of defensive play.
Don Revie wrote about his 3 year plan as England manager.
The subject of refereeing was covered and Millwall’s manager, Gordon Jago wrote an article about freedom of contract.
Also, the edition included an article on Great Wingers including a photograph of Preston North End’s Tom Finney.
After changes to the way non league players were paid there was a feature asking the question if amateur football was now dead?
In 1976, Southampton upset the mighty Manchester United in the F.A. Cup Final with a Bobby Stokes winner. The front cover showed an action shot from the final.
Ted Croker’s introduction discussed the work of the F.A.
The leading article was titled Trial by TV, written by Jimmy Hill.
Another feature looked forward to the prospects for the game as far ahead as 1984.
There was a nice feature on Joe Mercer and one on the question of loyalty.
The front cover focused on Liverpool who had just won their first European Cup defeating Borussia Moenchengladbach. Terry McDermott and Kevin Keegan can be seen celebrating one of Liverpool’s goals while captain Emlyn Hughes holds the trophy high in the bottom right hand corner.
The introduction talked about looking to the future of the game.
There was a preview of the 1978 World Cup as well as an article to recognise Bobby Moore’s international retirement.
The front cover showed Ipswch Town‘s captain, Mick Mills holds up the F.A. Cup after the surprise win over Arsenal.
Ted Croker’s introduction talked about how to achieve maximum enjoyment for the maximum number of people involved with the game.
Ron Greenwood wrote about the temporary new England set-up
There was a full results review of the 1978 World Cup alongside all the familiar reports and records of European and domestic competitions completed in the previous season,
An article about the F.A.’s past and present was written by Glen Kirton.
The 1979 F.A. Cup Final was one of the best of the decade with Arsenal winning an exciting encounter 3-2 over Manchester United. A clash involving players from both side was shown on the front cover of the year book.
Ted Croker’s introduction presented a season review.
Ipswich Town‘s manager Bobby Robson wrote an interesting article on the issue of club and country, one he was experiencing as a club manager but one he would soon have to deal with from the other side when he would become England manager.
Allen Wade wrote about a super skills competition set up nationwide to promote mastery of the ball amongst young players.
This was the first year book to colour plate photographs of which there were two sets.
1980’s -Ted at the helm
As the 1980’s arrived, English teams were among the top side in Europe and Ted Croker was still Secretary of the F.A.
The decade would see many major events take place in the domestic game and few of them good ones. Hooliganism and the tragedies at Heysel, Valley Parade and then Hillsborough shocked not only the sport but the nation as a whole.
Other than mentions of these events and issues in the opening remarks of the year book, the annual carried on pretty much as usual providing a good snap shot of the preceding season’s football.
The front cover again showed an action shot from the F.A. Cup Final which in 1980 was won by a rare headed goal by West Ham United’s Trevor Brooking over their London rivals, Arsenal who had reached their 3rd final in consecutive years.
In the photograph, the Hammers’ Ray Stewart challenged the Gunners’ Alan Sunderland for the ball.
Ted Croker’s introduction talked about the business of professional football with many key numbers relating to the size of the sport in England and how the F.A. went about allocating funds to achieve a wide range of aims.
There was a leading article by Osvaldo Ardiles talking about football and his experiences with Argentina in winning the 1978 World Cup.
There was also a review of football in the United States, a feature by Kevin Keegan following his return to England for Hamburg, Ron Greenwood looking back to the European Championships, a look at how an international match was arranged, a review of the first Semi-Professional tournament between European countries, a feature on the F.A.’s records department, Summer football and a review of the non league season in addition to the usual coverage of the league and cup competitions.
The front cover showed Nottingham Forest’s Dave Needham supported by Trevor Francis taking on Ipswich Town’s Terry Butcher supported by Paul Mariner.
Ted Croker tried to find positives to look out for after the England team’s failure at the 1980 European Championships when writing his introduction.
Nottingham Forest’s Trevor Francis also wrote an article on getting injured and then coming back to playing.
Dave Sexton, manager of the England Under 21’s wrote about his job and the good levels of skill he felt existed in the nation’s young players.
Graham Kelly wrote about the change in the points system made by the league clubs which would introduce 3 points for a win.
The front cover showed two England midfield stalwarts West Ham United’s Trevor Brooking and Manchester United’s Bryan Robson in the World Cup qualifier against Hungary.
Interestingly when we consider the amount of money in the game today, Ted Croker’s introduction talked about the realities and commercial opportunities not yet embraced by football.
There was a leading article about the evolution of international football into the World Cup, where the 1982 finals had just taken place.
The BBC’s John Motson wrote about life as a commentator, there was another feature about the countdown to an international match and for the football history enthusiasts, there was a short article about how clubs got their names.
The front cover showed Watford’ Kenny Jackett against Coventry City.
Ted Croker emphasised the need to promote the game in his introduction.
Brian Scovell wrote a feature about foreign players in the Football League following the arrival of the likes of Ardiles and Villa at Tottenham Hotspur. Foreign players were very much the exception back then unlike now, when they are the rule, especially in the Premier League.
Bobby Robson wrote about his early experiences as England manager.
There was a feature on Corinthians, later to become Corinthian Casuals and their history as a club extolling the virtues of the traditional amateur approach to playing the game.
Graham Taylor wrote about Watford’s tour of China and also managing England’s Youth team.
The front cover showed an action shot from the Brighton v Liverpool F.A. Cup tie with the Seagulls’ Tony Grealish with team mate Steve Gatting in the background, taking on the Reds’ midfield star, Graeme Souness.
Ted Croker on the criteria used for selecting the right opposition for England.
Continuing on the topic of England, Bobby Robson wrote about life as the national team manager.
There was also an article on badge collecting as well as one on the 100th varsity match.
Manchester United and England player Steve Coppell wrote about his career to date.
The front cover showed England’s Mark Hateley about to score against Northern Ireland with John Barnes in support.
After a number of crowd disturbances at domestic grounds, Ted Croker put out the call for harsh measures in response.
This edition previewed the 1986 World Cup.
Articles included a tribute to former F.A. Secretary, Sir Stanley Rous and the history of Huddersfield Town.
The front cover showed England’s Kerry Dixon on the ball in the match against Israel in Tel Aviv.
Ted Croker talked about the campaign to ‘be a friend of football’.
The edition covered the 1986 World Cup with a report, all the statistics and an article by David Pleat.
There was also an article about the boys of ’66, one by Geoff Hurst on going back to Mexico.
Going back further into the games’ history, a feature looked at how the English helped to spread the game back in its’ early days.
The front cover showed Glyn Hodges of Wimbledon holding Everton’s Kevin Radcliffe in the F.A. Cup tie between the clubs at Plough Lane.
With youth development pathways under constant scrutiny, in a move which was very much a forunner of the use of academies today, Ted Croker talked about the centre of excellence set up at Lilleshall for the top young players in the country in addition to many other centres established on a local basis.
Bobby Robson wrote about what he described as a satisfactory season for the England national team.
Bryon Butler told the story of the Football League which celebrated its’ centenary in 1988.
The front cover showed an action shot from the Liverpool v. Nottingham Forest F.A. Cup Semi-Final at Hillsborough a year before the sides would meet again at the same ground on a day that would end in tragedy. Forest’s Colin Foster is attempting to tackle the Reds’ Peter Beardsley.
In a sadly ironic way, Ted Croker’s introduction talked about how grounds were so much safer than before after the investment of funds and many improvements.
There was an article on the F.A.’s 125th anniversary.
Bobby Robson commented on a very poor showing by England in the 1988 European Championships.
The front cover showed an untitled action shot from a North London derby between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur.
New F.A. Chief Executive Graham Kelly wrote about the need for a far reaching development plan for the game following the Hillsborough disaster.
There was an article about Veteran’s football and also a feature on the Northern League which was celebrating its’ centenary.
1990’s – The Kelly years
The editions of the yearbook in it’s last decade before a name and design change, were filled with information about the ever expanding game both domestically, in Europe at club level and at international level where World Cup and the European Championships were gradually expanding as time passed.
The 1990’s would see the launch of the Premier League and changes to the major European competitions. Money would start flowing into the game in vast quantities.
Graham Kelly was in charge at the F.A. during this period of massive change and even his job title had been re-named as Chief Executive where Ted Croker had been General Secretary.
The front cover showed an action shot from an Aston Villa game.
Graham Kelly’s predecessors had rarely had anything positive to write about after England had taken part in major championships throughout the history of the year book, 1966 notwithstanding.Italia ’90 had been an overall success for England despite the Semi-Final defeat on penalties to Germany and Kelly was able to wrote positively about the tournament.
The front cover showed an action shot from a Crystal Palace v. Tottenham Hotspur match.
Graham Kelly wrote about how there were some positive signs and how the decision to establish the F.A. premier league for the 1992/93 season had been a radical one. Kelly listed the aims of the league and they were underpinned by benefits for the national side.
There were very few articles in the year book which by mow nontheless included a wealth of statistics and information about the previous season’s football at home and abroad, at club and international level.
The front cover showed Liverpool players including Ian Rush celebrating their F.A. Cup victory where the Reds beat Sunderland at Wembley.
Graham Kelly’s introduction was title, somewhat ironically some might say, considering how the game has evolved since then, ‘Looking to Protect the Future’.
Kelly identified a number of issues especially in relation to young players over-playing and the need for better handling of young talent which lead to many changes in junior development. However, where we’ve ended up with many young players now deemed to not be playing enough and / or being restricted in favour of ready made foreign players more likely to give managers the short term results required to maintain the highest league status, is a situation where some might wish us to be back where we were at the time of Kelly’s words.
Glen Kirton wrote about the upcoming Euro ’96 which would be held in England.
Mike Ingham’s article looked at the launch of the Premier League and how it was designed to benefit domestic football and the national team.
As usual, the year book included fixtures for the upcoming season only this time, at the top level, clubs would be playing in the new F.A. Premier League.
A foretaste of the future branding and content of the annual was a short message at the front of the year book announcing that full details of the England team including appearances and goalscorers could be found in a new publication call The FA England Year 1992/93.
By the 1997/98 edition, the title, contents and positioning of the year book would be oriented much more towards the England national side, as we shall see.
The front cover showed an action shot including an Arsenal player taking on one from Sheffield Wednesday. In the previous season, these clubs had competed in both major domestic finals.
Graham Kelly wrote about the start of the Premier League and the rise of Womens’ football and the F.A.’s initiatives in this area.
There were well written obituaries for some key figures in the game including Bobby Moore and former F.A. Secretary Ted Croker who had both died since the previous year book’s publication.
The front cover showed an action shot from a Manchester United v. Wimbledon match.
A change in publisher took place with this edition. Pelham Books, part of the Penguin group, published the year book.
Perhaps the most obvious change which accompanied the change in publisher was that the type face was reduced necessitating a trip to Specsavers for some, I’d imagine.
Graham Kelly’s words in this edition, called the F.A. Chief Executive’s Report talked mainly about the Centres of Excellence (the precursors of the modern day academies) and how they had been set up to help with young player development.
Another change in publisher took place with this edition. Pan Books, part of the MacMillan group, published the year book.
The front cover showed an England player in action.
Graham Kelly churned out a list of the major changes in the game but also complained about the issues which still affected the game like the poor behaviour of some spectators. He also voiced a number of concerns about young player development and the gap between the newly formed Premier League and the rest of the Football League widening, issues 20 years on which have polarised the development of the game domestically.
In the introduction, Graham Kelly talked positively about the 1996 European Championships, held in England but also listed the improvements which still needed to be made to take advantages of the opportunities created by the tournament, including the development of youth football, schools football and facilities.
1997/98 to date – An England rebrand
From the 50th edition onwards, the yearbook went through a subtle but significant change, involving an added focus on the national team.
While the Premier League was beginning to grow in strength and commercial drawing power, the F.A. had the England team as their flagship product.
So this 1997/98 edition emphasised the England portion of the year book’s focus and content including the addition of the England name in the title;
The small typeface and an absence of supplementary articles (other than the short introduction from the Chief Executive) and a concentration on statistics and records, meant that ironically, the year book, in terms of its content, was now very much the opposite of what the initial editions set out to deliver.
Gone were the quirky articles about boots and studs and the role of the County Associations, as once seen back in the 1950’s.
The year book was nontheless, a solid record of the domestic game in the previous season with a special focus on the England national team.
As I pointed out above, usually, it’s the early editions of most titles which are difficult to find and recent ones in plentiful supply.
With the year book, unlike most memorabilia, it is the recent editions of the year book, from 2000 onwards, which are the scarce ones while the early editions, other than the first two editions, are reasonably easy to find.
I’ve seen only one large job lot of the year books including the post 2000 editions in all the auctions I have attended in recent years, but that’s all.
So I’ll add any visuals and descriptions of these recent editions as and when I come across them.
Collecting, values and prices
Job lots of these year books both small and larger do come up at auction on a reasonably frequent basis.
Also, on Ebay, collectors will find regular listings, although not in large quantities.
The challenge I’ve found in putting together a collection of the year books has been trying to find editions in decent condition. As with many annuals, the covers tend to get creased, especially the corners. Also, in the earlier years, the spines get a bit worn with paper loss is often found at top and bottom ends.
Editions for the first two years are rare and my copy, as shown above in the scan is a bit tatty.
As with other titles, some of the 1970’s editions can get a bit loose with the binding splitting open at some page joins of the inside pages.
If you are patient and willing to wait and to keep searching, you will find most of the editions and ones in at least good condition.
In terms of values, most of the year books can be purchased for a few pounds with the older editions costing a bit more but not even as high as £20.
As I have mentioned above, it’s the more recent editions, published since the late 1990’s with the England focus in the title, which are as scare as any of the editions, it seems.
In summary, while in recent years, the year book has become more a book of statistics and records, certainly the earlier editions, into the early 1970’s were indeed, an attractive momento of the preceding season’s football and provide a quick and easy to read record of who won what as far as the major honours in the game are concerned along with some interesting articles, especially in the early days, covering a wide range of topics.
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Category: Football Annuals
Hi great piece, enjoyed it & informative. What the last FA Yearbook?
Tuesday 28th June 2016 - 7:20pm
Thanks very much Steve. Not sure which is the last one, as into the early years of the new century, the year book was published but in small numbers. As I said in the post, I've only seen one job lot of these year books which included editions from the 2000's and I can't remember what the last year was in that lot. Thanks again for looking at the blog. Best wishes, Mark
Tuesday 28th June 2016 - 8:17pm