A clever blend of entertainment and education – A brief guide to the F.A. Book for Boys

Posted: 12th March 2015

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The F.A. Book for Boys was first published in 1948 and continued into the early 1980’s.

The annual was one of a the major mouthpieces of the Football Association in the post-war years as the world and football attempted to get back to normal.

The book sat alongside the F.A. Yearbook and the F.A. Bulletin as vehicles to promote the messages of the National Association as it tried to take advantage of the post-war enthusiasm for football as the game was seized upon by many as a way to forget and move on from the Second World War.

A boys’ annual, targeted at the younger market, especially as a Christmas gift, the annual was an interesting mix of messages. While the top players and matches were featured alongside puzzles, crosswords and games, the content also included a heavy dose of material designed to help its’ readers understand and play the game better.

As Graham Morse has said in his biography of Walter Winterbottom, the F.A. Book for Boys was ‘a clever blend of entertainment and education’.

Winterbottom was a key figure in the F.A. and a driving force in developing and implementing the F.A. Coaching scheme amongst coaches and players alike.

The content of the annuals were books to enjoy but books that would teach you something too and contributors’ articles were often couched in terms of their playing skills and how these could be passed on to the young reader.

This strategy of entertainment and education was used throughout all the annuals.

The annuals were published with dust wrappers between 1948, #1 and 1968/69, #21 and these had some marvellous photographs on them which often reinforced the double pronged approach.

Initially, the dust wrapper images were paintings by famous artist Bernard Venables, depicting exciting scenes of boys playing the game; girls involvement in actually playing in the numbers we see today was some way off. Sexist as it was, it was a sign of the times that football was for boys and promoted to boys. Girls and womens’ football would come later.

The books changed to softback format in the early 1970’s for 2 years and then there appears to be a gap after the publication of #26 in 1973.

The annuals were published initially by Naldrett Press, then in conjunction with Heinemann for a few editions after which Naldrett’s involvement seems to disappear and Heineman published the remainder and bulk of the annuals up to and including #26 in 1973.

In 1979, the F.A. produced another annual called the FA Soccer Book for Boys which lasted for four years (1979-1982).

The 4 FA Soccer Books for Boys from 1979 were published by World Distributors (1979, 1980) and World International (1981, 1982).

Let’s have a look at the FA Book for Boys by splitting up it’s life into 7 stages;

 

1948-1950: Bernard Venables’ paintings.

A striking aspect of the early editions of the annual were the front cover images.

These were paintings by artist Bernard Venables perhaps better know for his paintings in the world of angling.

Venables painted exciting action scenes from games and these were printed on the dust wrapper covers but also on the front board of the book itself and this convinced me that these early editions were produced without dust wrappers as it was a while before I came across any which had a wrapper;

 

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The first annual was published in 1948 and the contents included coverage of the major matches  of the 1947/48 season.

Manchester United‘s defeat of Blackpool in the F.A. Cup Final and Leytonstone‘s successful defence of the F.A. Amateur Cup with a win over Barnet in front of 60,000 fans at Stamford Bridge were both covered.

There was also some good Arsenal content in the annual including a feature on Joe Mercer and one on the club and its’ history.

There was a forward in the form of a letter from Stanley Rous, Secretary of the Football Association, reproduced at the start of the book in which readers were informed that the chief purpose of the book ‘is to help you to play better football’.

Rous emphasised the importance of playing the game properly right from the start of players’ experience. He also talked about the history of the game and how this would feature in the book. Finally, he requested reader feedback;

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The rest of the book supported Rous’ stated intent to inform readers on all aspects of the game and there were features on goalkeeping, attacking play, half back play, indoor football, table football, staying fit and the use of film to help with football coaching. Two of the articles were written by Walter Winterbottom.

There were also puzzles and quizzes and a fictional story.

For many of the following editions, all of this content would be the model the books would follow.

 

2. 1949

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The dust wrapper and front cover of the book were another image painted by Bernard Venables.

The annual covered the 1948/49 season.

Stanley Rous’ introduction emphasised the amount of reader letters commenting on the first issue of the book.

Rous mentions a new feature called Soccer Chronicle which was a section of the annual providing a wider coverage of school and youth football.

Produced in a smaller typeface, this section looked like a newspaper included within the book;

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Again, the FA Cup Final, between Leicester City and Wolves was covered and the there was a feature on the history of the FA Amateur Cup which had been held at Wembley for the first time in 1949 where Bromley beat Romford.

As with the first issue, there were plenty of articles on many aspects of the game as well as the section on the records of the main competitions and puzzles and quizzes.

 

3. 1950

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The dust wrapper and front cover of the book were the third and final image to be painted by Bernard Venables;

The annual covered the 1949/50 season.

The FA Cup Final between Arsenal and Liverpool was covered as was the FA Amateur Cup Final in which Willington beat Bishop Auckland.

There were features with Arsenal, Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur and Wolves interest along with the usual content of articles on many aspects of the game as well as the section on the records of the main competitions and puzzles and quizzes.

Rous again mentioned Soccer Chronicle which had been expanded and included reports from readers.

The annual includes this photograph of an amazing Heath Robinson-style device created by Alex Wilson, described as a well known trainer and inventor of football equipment. It’s a corner-kick machine although looking back at it now, why not just get a player to come out and practice their corner-taking skills if you want to work with your forwards on attacking corners?

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1951-63: All action covers

During this period, the front cover images moved away from Bernard Venables’ paintings to exciting action photographs.

Although there were a few exceptions to this, as we shall see in this section (like the one below) overall, the dust wrapper front cover images were now photographic versions of the goalmouth imagery that Venables’ paintings had begun in art form on the first three editions.

 

4. 1951/52 

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The front cover of the dust wrapper showed an action photograph but the players were not identified.

The annual covered the 1950/51 season.

The F.A. Cup Final between Blackpool and Newcastle United and the F.A. Amateur Cup Final between Bishop Auckland and Pegasus were both covered.

The Soccer Chronicle newsletter took up 10 pages finishing with team photos of England Youth (including future Arsenal, Coventry City and Middlesex cricketer Don Bennett and future Queens Park Rangers manager, Gordon Jago) and England Schools (including Manchester United’s Duncan Edwards);

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There’s a small window into the administrative process at the F.A. in Stanley Rous’ introduction where he mentioned how the annual’s content had been approved by the F.A.’s Publications Committee.

There was lots of coaching related content and features by such contributors as Bolton Wanderer’s Nat Lofthouse and Wolves’ Bert Williams.

 

5. 1952/53

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The front cover of the dust wrapper showed an action photograph but the players were not identified.

The annual covered the 1951/52 season.

The F.A. Cup Final between Arsenal and Newcastle United and the F.A. Amateur Cup Final between Leyton and Walthamstow Avenue were both covered.

With the emphasis of the annual very much about coaching and getting players, especially juniors to play the game more and to play it better, there was an interesting photograph of boys practising their heading skills with a coach holding a hoop as a target;

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6. 1953/54 

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There was another goalmouth action photograph on the front cover of the dust wrapper, although again, the players were not identified.

The annual looked back at the 1952/53 season.

The famous ‘Matthews Final’ where Blackpool beat Bolton Wanderers and Pegasus‘ repeat victory in the F.A. Amateur Cup where they beat Harwich and Parkeston were both covered.

There is good England content in this issue with a Walter Winterbottom feature, an 1893 team photo, a feature on England’s Summer Tour to South America and a team photograph of the side that played Chile.

Soccer Chronicle had a photograph of the successful Manchester United F.A. Youth Cup winning side who had beaten Wolves in front of 36,000 people.

The team included 4 of the Busby Babes including with Duncan Edwards and David Pegg (back row, right end) and Liam Whelan and survivor, Albert Scanlon (front row, right end);

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Again, there was lots of coaching related content and features by such contributors as Arsenal’s Lionel Smith, Portsmouth’s Jimmy Dickinson and Sheffield Wednesday’s Redfern Froggatt.

The coaching focus was emphasised by a note on the front fold of the dust wrapper informing readers that the book had been put together in collaboration with the F.A.’s Coaching Department and that all the articles had the F.A’s official approval.

 

7. 1954/55 

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The dust wrapper for this edition showed England players involved in some sort of heading activity while training before an international, including Tottenham Hotspur’s Alf Ramsey (far left) who a decade later would become England manager and take the team to a World Cup Final win in 1966, after taking Ipswich Town to the 1st Division title once he had retired from playing.

The annual looked back at the 1953/54 season.

As usual, the FA Cup Final between West Bromwich Albion and Preston North End and FA Amateur Cup Final between Bishop Auckland and Crook Town were covered.

There was an article in the 1954 World Cup

Here, Andrade of Uruguay tries to tackle England’s Nat Lofthouse with Tom Finney looking on behind;

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The coaching focused articles included contributors such as Blackburn Rovers’ Johnny Carey, Blackpool’s Stanley Matthews, Burnley’s Frank Hill, Charlton Athletic’s Sam Bartram, Huddersfield Town’s Ronald Staniforth, Hungary’s Ferenc Puskas, Lincoln City’s Tony Emery in a dialogue about playing centre half with Luton Town’s Syd Owen and West Bromwich Albion’s Ronnie Allen. 

 

8. 1955/56

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The dust wrapper front cover showed Tommy Garrett of Blackpool in a tussle with Les Smith of Wolves;

The annual looked back at the 1954/55 season.

The FA Cup Final between Newcastle United and Manchester City along with the FA Amateur Cup Final between Bishop Auckland and Hendon were covered.

There was good England content with a feature on England’s Summer Tour to France, Spain and Portugal as well as one on the England Youth team.

Here is the England team before their match against Spain;

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Other features included articles by or about Bolton Wanderers’ Nat LofthousePegasus’ Mike Pinner, German club RW Essen’s Helmut Rahn and two features on Wolves, an interview of Billy Wright by a young reader and a feature by Bill Slater.

For Manchester United Busby Babes enthusiasts, Roger Byrne writes about how to use the ball from the left back position.

 

9. 1956/57

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The dust wrapper shows Wolves’ and England’s captain, Billy Wright and Fulham’s Johnny Haynes with two young football fans all enjoying the F.A. Book for Boys from the previous year;

The annual looked back at the 1955/56 season.

The FA Cup Final between Birmingham City and Manchester City along with the FA Amateur Cup Final between Bishop Auckland and Corinthian Casuals were covered.

There were also features on Birmingham City’s Jeff Hall and Manchester City’s Bert Trautman.

There was a new feature called Football Forum which would last for a number of years in which 4 experts (usually players and managers) considered problems sent in by readers.

This graphic was used to introduce the feature;

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Other club / player features included a title page photograph of Fulham’s Ken Hawkins, a feature by Everton’s Tommy Eglington, a reader’s interview of Fulham’s Bedford Jezzard‘ and photographs of Fulham’s Johnny Haynes and Bob Morton in training. Finally, there was a feature by Manchester United’s Matt Busby.

There was also a black and white team photograph of FA Amateur Cup winners Bishop Auckland.

 

10. 1957/58

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Back to goalkeepers on the front of the dust wrapper, this time, it’s Tottenham Hotspur’s Ted Ditchburn;

The annual looked back at the 1956/57 season.

The FA Cup Final between Aston Villa and Manchester United along with the FA Amateur Cup Final between Bishop Auckland and Wycombe Wanderers were covered.

There is a reader interview of Manchester United’s Roger Byrne and a full page photograph of Roger signing an autograph;

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Other club / player content included features by Blackburn’s Ron Clayton, Chelsea’s Reg MatthewsManchester City’s Don Revie and Wolves’ Bill Slater.

There was also a feature by Sunderland’s Colin Grainger (who was also a successful singer) about wing play, especially the need to help in defence;

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Again, there is a black and white team photograph of FA Amateur Cup winners Bishop Auckland.

 

11. 1958/59

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The front cover of the dust wrapper showed Stoke City’s Harry Oscroft taking on Charlton Athletic’s Derek Ufton;

The annual looked back at the 1957/58 season.

The FA Cup Final between Bolton Wanderers and Manchester United along with the FA Amateur Cup Final between Woking and Ilford were covered.

There was a feature on football kit which included this photograph of Sunderland’s D.R. Gow wearing the boots and clothing of the 1890’s dominated by a fine pair of long-cut shorts;

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Other club / player content included features by Arsenal’s Vic GrovesBlackburn Rovers’ Bryan Douglas, an article by Peter Lorenzo on England‘s away trip, a feature by Fiorentina’s Ardico Magnini, Fulham’s Jimmy Hill a reader interview with Luton Town’s Ron Baynham and a feature by West Bromwich Albion’s Ray Barlow.

 

12. 1959/60

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Continuing the use of goalkeepers on the front cover of the dust wrappers, this edition’s wrapper showed Blackpool’s George Farm at full stretch.

The annual looked back at the 1958/59 season.

The FA Cup Final between Luton Town and Nottingham Forest along with the FA Amateur Cup Final between Barnet and Crook Town were covered.

Forest Captain, Jack Burkitt looks very happy as he prepares to lift the Cup;

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In this edition the Soccer Chronicle feature was replaced by a Soccer Schools Supplement.

Other club / player content included features by  Arsenal’s Tommy DochertyBurnley’s Colin McDonald, Bob Ferrier on England‘s trip to South America, a reader’s interview of Fulham’s Johnny Haynes, Newcastle United’s Alf McMichaelWest Bromwich Albion’s David Burnside and West Ham United’s Phil Woosnam.

Opposite the title page is a good photograph of Wolves and England Captain, Billy Wright.

 

13. 1960/61

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The annual looked back at the 1959/60 season.

The FA Cup Final between Blackburn Rovers and Wolverhampton Wanderers along with the FA Amateur Cup Final between Bishop Auckland and Hendon were covered.

This edition had good England content with a feature by Walter Winterbottom and one on the England Youth team, a photographic feature on England’s season and also one on England’s preparation before their match against Scotland.

In this edition, the Football Honours List was again included. This 16 page section of the annual provided a historical record of results across our domestic game;

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Other club / player features were by Aberdeen’s Graham Leggatt,  Arsenal’s George Swindin, Blackburn Rovers’ Ron Clayton interviewed by a reader, Blackpool’s Jimmy Armfield and Stoke City’s Stanley Matthews.

 

14. 1961/62

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The front cover of the dust wrapper showed a good action photograph from Highbury with Newcastle United’s Liam Tuohy and Arsenal’s Jack Kelsey, Billy McCullough and John Snedden.

The annual looked back at the 1960/61 season.

The FA Cup Final between Leicester City and Tottenham Hotspur in their double winning season, along with the FA Amateur Cup Final between Bishop Auckland and Walthamstow Avenue were covered.

Here’s Tottenham Hotspur’s Captain Danny Blanchflower with the FA Cup after the win over Leicester City;

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There was good England content with a feature on England’s season and one on the England Youth team.

Other club / player features were by Arsenal’s Ron Greenwood,  Burnley’s Ray Pointer, Everton’s George Sharples, Manchester United’s Bobby Charlton, Middlesbrough’s Mike McNeil, Sheffield United’s Alan Hodgkinson, Southampton’s Jim Gallagher,  Tottenham Hotspur’s Jimmy Greaves and West Bromwich Albion’s Bobby Robson.

 

15. 1962/63

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The front cover of the dust wrapper showed a good action photograph of Everton’s Gordon West (while still with Blackpool) and Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Bert Murray at Molineux

The annual was introduced by Dennis Follows, the new Secretary of the F.A. who had taken over from Stanley Rous.

The annual looked back at the 1961/62 season.

The FA Cup Final between Burnley and last season’s winners Tottenham Hotspur  along with the FA Amateur Cup Final between Crook Town and Hounslow were covered but now with photographic features.

As noted on the front of the dust wrapper, the annual included a report of the 1962 World Cup held in Chile. There was also a feature on the history of the competition and Chile’s preparation for hosting the finals.

Here are Brazil, winners of the tournament;

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Other club / player features were by Aston Villa’s John Sleeuwenhoek, Blackpool’s Jimmy Armfield, Burnley’s John Connelly, Coventry City’s Jimmy Hill, Crystal Palace’s Arthur Rowe, Ipswich Town’s Ray Crawford, Sheffield Wednesday’s Ron Springett and Wolves’ Ron Flowers.

 

16. 1963/64

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The dust wrapper showed three Tottenham Hotspur stars, Jimmy Greaves, Bobby Smith and Peter Baker in training.

The annual looked back at the 1962/63 season.

The FA Cup Final between Leicester City and Manchester United along with the FA Amateur Cup Final between Sutton United and Wimbledon were covered with photographic features.

There was good England content with features by Alf Ramsey, one on former England stars Joe Mercer and Stan Cullis, an article on schools football including the England Schools team and finally, a report on the England Youth team and their success at the 16th International Youth Tournament.

Here is the team with Captain, Chelsea’s Ron Harris holding the trophy;

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Other club / player content included features on or by Chelsea’s Bobby Tambling, Everton’s Brian Labone, Fulham’s Graham LeggettTottenham Hotspur’s former star, George Robb and a reader interview with double winning team goalkeeper Bill Brown reader and finally, West Bromwich Albion’s Don Howe.

To celebrate the FA Centenary, there was a special supplement on the organisation’s history.

 

1964-1966: Getting larger

The next 3 editions from #17 to #19 were a slightly larger size than the previous books.

The internal design and layout was also changed to project a slightly more modern look.

 

17. 1964/65

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The dust wrapper showed a terrific action photograph with Sunderland’s Jim Montgomery and Charlie Hurley denying Middlesbrough’s Bryan Orrit.

The annual looked back at the 1963/64 season.

The FA Cup Final between Preston North End and West Ham United along with the FA Amateur Cup Final between Enfield and Crook Town were covered with photographic features.

There was good England content again with a feature by Manager Alf Ramsay, a 3 page photographic feature with pen pictures of many England players and another 3 page photographic feature.

A new photographic feature was ‘Your Star Album’, a section with full page player head shots (concise biographies would be added later) of 32 top players beginning with Chelsea’s Bobby Tambling;

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Also features by many England players including Huddersfield Town’s Ray Wilson, Manchester United’s Bobby Charlton, England Trainer Harold Shepherdson, Liverpool’s Gordon Milne, Leicester City’s Gordon Banks and Southampton’s Terry Paine.

Other club / player content included a reader interview of Arsenal’s Joe Baker, an article by Chelsea manager, Tommy Docherty, a features by Wolves’ Chief Scout, G.Noakes and West Ham’s John Sissons being interviewed by Brian Moore.

 

18. 1965/66

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The dust wrapper showed another great action photograph with Charlton Athletic’s Mike Kenning competing with Manchester City’s Derek Kevan.

The annual looked back at the 1964/65 season.

The FA Cup Final between Leeds United and Liverpool along with the FA Amateur Cup Final between Enfield and Crook Town were covered with photographic features.

There was good Liverpool content with a photograph of Ian St.John, a feature by Peter Thompson and a reader interview of Roger Hunt;

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Other club / player content included features by Blackburn Rovers’ Mike England, Blackpool’s Tony Waiters, Chelsea’s Terry Venables, England’s Manager, Sir Alf RamsayNottingham Forest’s Frank Wignall and a photographic review of Stanley Matthew’s career with Stoke City and Blackpool.

There was also a feature on upcoming 1966 World Cup.

‘Your Star Album’ again featured 32 top players.

 

19. 1966/67

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The third of this trio of larger sizes was #19 with Leeds United’s Gary Sprake on its’ dust wrapper;

The annual looked back at the 1965/66 season.

The FA Cup Final between Everton and Sheffield Wednesday along with the FA Amateur Cup Final between Hendon and Wealdstone were covered with photographic features.

With the 1966 World Cup Finals approaching, F.A. Secretary Denis Follows was smiling in this photograph but I’m not sure how comfortable he is lifting up a rather stocky World Cup Willie (the tournament’s mascot);

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There was good Manchester United content with a photograph of Bobby Charlton with his Footballer of the Year award and a reader interview of Nobby Stiles.

Other club / player content included features by Aston Villa’s Phil Woosnam, on Brazil’s Pele, by Chelsea’s Peter Bonetti, Fulham’s George Graham, Leeds United’s Jack Charlton, Liverpool’s Ian Callaghan, Tottenham Hotspur’s Maurice Norman, West Bromwich Albion’s John Kaye and West Ham United’s Bobby Moore.

‘Your Star Album’ again featured 32 top players.

 

1967 and 1968: Post World Cup glory

In the 2 years following England’s 1966 World Cup success, the dust wrapper images used a similar green design.

 

20. 1967/68 

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The dust wrapper showed a midfield clash from the World Cup Final between West Ham United and England goalscorer in the match, Martin Peters and Koln and West Germany’s Wolfgang Overath.

The annual looked back at the 1966/67 season focusing on the 1966 World Cup Finals.

For once, there was no coverage of the FA Cup Final between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur or the FA Amateur Cup Final between Enfield and Skelmersdale United.

Not surprisingly, there was good England / 1966 World Cup content including players from England’s successful squad.

As well as the dust wrapper (see above), there was a reader interview of Martin Peters, a feature by Peter’s club colleague, West Ham United’s Geoff Hurst, a photographic feature on the tournament with team photos of all the teams, a feature by England Manager, Sir Alf Ramsay, one by Fulham’s George Cohen, a photograph of Stoke’s George Eastham and a feature by Everton’s Brian Labone.

Other club / player content included features on or by Burnley’s Alex Elder, former Everton Director, E. Holland Hughes, Manchester United’s Alex Stepney, Sir Stanley Matthews and Nottingham Forest’s Terry Hennessey.

From the amateur game, there was a feature by Hendon and England’s goalkeeper John Swannell who I watched a few times as a boy in North West London;

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‘Your Star Album’ again featured 32 top players.

 

21. 1968/69

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The dust wrapper showed West Ham United and England captain, Bobby Moore and Rangers and Scotland captain, John Grieg leading out their teams for the Home International at Hampden Park.

The annual looked back at the 1967/68 season.

The FA Cup Final between Everton and West Bromwich Albion, the FA Amateur Cup Final between Chesham and Leytonstone and the Schools international between England and Scotland were covered with photographic features.

As was often the case in these annuals, there was good England content with a feature by Sir Alf Ramsay and a photographic feature covering England’s year.

There was good Tottenham Hotspur content with a feature on Jimmy Greaves and one by Martin Chivers.

Other club / player content included features on or by Arsenal’s Ian Ure, Blackpool’s Tony Waiters, Chelsea’s John Hollins, Everton’s Ray Wilson,  Manchester City’s Joe Mercer, Tooting and Mitchum’s John Robertson and West Bromwich Albion’s Bobby Hope.

In the feature by Joe Mercer was this photograph of Mercer with Malcolm Alison. The pair created a highly successful period for Manchester City long before the current day injections of cash in the club. Alison used many methods, especially in getting his players fit by bringing in athletics coaches, which had not been done before;

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‘Your Star Album’ again featured 32 top players.

 

1969-1971: Laminated covers

The next 3  editions, #22 to #24 were published without a dust wrapper and with a laminated covering, as was the way with many of the numerous boys’ football annuals being published at the time.

 

22. 1969/70

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The front cover showed an action photograph with West Bromwich Albion’s Jeff Astle attempting to slot the ball past Leicester City’s Peter Shilton in the FA Cup Semi-Final at Hillsborough.

The annual looked back at the 1968/69 season.

The FA Cup Final between Leicester City and Manchester United along with the FA Amateur Cup Final between North Shields and Sutton United were covered with photographic features.

For the first time, the Footballer of the Year award was shared between 2 players, Derby County’s Dave McKay and Manchester City’s Tony Book;

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There was good England content with a feature by Sir Alf Ramsay, a colour team photo with players in World Cup Final kit and West Ham United’s Bobby Moore with the Jules Rimet Trophy and a reader interview of Everton’s Alan Ball while training with England.

The other club / player content included features by Arsenal’s Bob McNab, Everton’s Howard Kendall, Leicester City’s Peter Shilton, Manchester City’s Mike Summerbee, Nottingham Forest’s John Barnwell and an article on Manchester United’s George Best.

‘Your Star Album’ again featured 32 top players.

 

23. 1970/71

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The front cover showed an action photograph with Everton’s Sandy Brown and Leeds United’s Mick Jones competing for the ball.

The annual looked back at the 1969/70 season.

The FA Cup Final between Chelsea and Leeds United was covered with a photographic feature. But there was no coverage of the FA Amateur Cup Final between Enfield and Dagenham. 

There was good Chelsea content along with the photographic feature on the Cup Final with a team photograph, a photograph with David Webb and Everton’s Joe Royle, a feature by Brian Glanville called ‘The Significance Of Charlie Cook‘, a full page photograph of Peter Osgood in the ‘Your Star Album’ section and an advertisement for Bukta at the back of the book also including Peter Osgood.

In the Cup Final photographs was this one of Peter Osgood’s spectacular diving headed goal in the replay at Old Trafford;

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There was also good Leeds United content with the above front cover colour photo including Mick Jones and the photographic Cup Final feature. There was a photograph of Manager Don Revie and Captain Billy Bremner, a feature by Don Revie, a team photograph, photographs involving Jack Charlton and a full page photograph of Mick Jones in – ‘Your Star Album’.

Other club / player content included a feature on West Ham United and England’s Captain called, ‘The Saga Of Bobby Moore from Boy to Man To England Captain’, a feature on Manchester United’s Bobby Charlton‘s 100 England Caps, one by Everton’s Keith Newton and one by team mate Everton’s Joe Royle, an article by England ManagerSir Alf Ramsay, a reader interview of Manchester City’s Francis Lee, a feature by Manchester United’s George Best and one by Newcastle United’s Bryan Robson.

‘Your Star Album’ again featured 32 top players.

 

24. 1971/72

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The front cover showed an action photograph with Stoke City’s John Ritchie competing with Tottenham Hotspur’s Martin Peters in an aerial duel.

The annual looked back at the 1970/71 season.

The FA Cup Final between Arsenal and Liverpool along with the FA Amateur Cup Final between Dagenham and Skelmersdale were covered with photographic features.

There was good Arsenal content in addition to the Cup Final photographs with a full page colour team photo, a feature by Bob Wilson with full page colour photo, a full page colour photo of Charlie George and a full page photo of Ray Kennedy in ‘Star Album’.

In a photo quiz, readers were asked why Sheffield United’s goalkeeper Alan Hodgkinson was surrounded by football programmes.

The answer was that Alan collected a programme from every game in which he played;

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Other club / player content included features by Blackpool’s Jimmy ArmfieldChelsea’s Peter Osgood interviewed by a reader with some colour photos, Derby County’s Roy McFarlandEngland’s Sir Alf Ramsay, Leeds United’s Terry Cooper, black and white team photographs of Leicester City, Notts County and Preston North End, a feature by Tottenham Hotspur’s Ralph Coates and a full page colour team photograph.

‘Your Star Album’ again featured 32 top players.

 

1972-1973: Softback only

The next 2 editions, #25 and #26 were published with softback card covers instead of the laminated hard covers of the 3 previous editions

 

25. 1972/73

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In the front cover Wolves’ John Richards is attempting to control the ball while Chelsea’s Marvin Hinton closes in.

The annual looked back at the 1971/72 season.

The was a photograph of Leeds United’s Captain, Billy Bremner with the FA Cup after the defeat of Arsenal

On the centenary of the competition, there was a good photographic feature on the 100 years of the F.A. Cup.

Other club / player content included features on Crystal Palace’s club history, a team photo of League Champions, Derby County, a feature on England / 1974 World Cup by Sir Alf Ramsay, one by Leeds United’s Paul Madeley, Liverpool’s Tommy Smith, Manchester United’s Alan Gowling, a reader interview with Southampton’s Mike Channon and a team photo of Stoke City at Wembley with League Cup.

‘Your Star Album’ again featured 32 top players.

The back cover was used to promote another popular F.A. publication, the F. A. Yearbook, for 1972/73;

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26. 1973/74

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Ipswich Town’ Colin Viljoen is chasing after Leicester City’s Keith Weller with Tractor Boy Clive Woods looking on.

The annual looked back at the 1972/73 season.

The FA Cup Final was between between Leeds United and Sunderland. There was a photograph of the moment just after Ian Porterfield had scored the Black Cats’ winning goal.

There was good England content with a feature by Sir Alf Ramsay and a reader interview with Liverpool’s Kevin Keegan while training with England

Other club / player content included a team photo of European Cup winners, Ajax;

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There was also a feature by Arsenal’s Jeff Blockley and one by Bob Wilson, an article by Derby County’s Brian Clough, features by Ipswich Town’s Kevin Beattie, Manchester City’s Rodney Marsh, Queens Park Rangers’ Phil Parkes, Sheffield United’s Tony Currie and Wolves’ John Richards. There was a feature telling the story of Stoke City’s Gordon Banks and a black and white photograph of the Tottenham Hotspur players at Wembley with the League Cup.

‘Your Star Album’ again featured 32 top players.

The final edition that I’ve seen, the 2nd issued with softback covers, was the above issue for 1973, #26.

On a tribute site I’ve found which includes a page for the FA Book for Boys, there’s room in the listings for an edition for 1974, the book which would have been #27. But the collector has left boxes blank wherever he doesn’t have that particular edition in his collection. #27’s box is left blank.

So were there 26 or 27 editions? I don’t know. I’ve seen 26 as above and despite numerous searches over the last few years, I haven’t yet seen that elusive 27th edition.

 

1979-1982: Relaunch years

4 annuals published by the F.A. between 1979 and 1982 had a different name, two different names actually.

Between 1979 and 1981, the F.A. published 3 annuals called the FA Soccer Book for Boys.

Then in 1982, the annual was re-named the FA Soccer Book.

I’ve included these books in this brief guide if only to record their existence. They are not editions of the FA Book for Boys although similar. So even in confirming that in a way, these books are a separate mini series of books with a different names, I hope it will make it clear as to their place as part of the official family.

In this sense, I’d say they are cousins of the originals.

 

1. 1979

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The front cover showed an action photograph of a Manchester derby match with Manchester City’s Joe Royle being tracked by Manchester United’s Martin Buchan.

All these annuals had strong emphasis on the top players, clubs and competitions of the time with many photographs and there was good Liverpool content in this edition with player photographs throughout the book.

 

2. 1980

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The front cover of the 2nd annual in 1980 showed an action photograph with England’s Kevin Keegan and Scotland’s Don Masson.

The annual had good Liverpool content again including a 7 page feature on the clubs’ games in Europe since 1964.

 

3. 1981

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The 3rd annual was published in 1981 again showing action from the Scotland v. England Home International on the front cover. England’s Ray Wilkins and Scotland’s Graham Souness look on.

There was good Nottingham Forest content with a 4 page feature on the clubs’ history and recent successes.

 

4. 1982 

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The last of the annuals and one with a slightly different name than the 3 before it, was published in 1982.

There was good Ipswich Town content in the annual  including an action photograph from a match at Portman Road with Paul Mariner on the front cover.

 

Collecting, values and prices

These lovely annuals conform to many of the aspects of collecting vintage items in that the older they get, the scarcer and therefore, rarer they get and more expensive to acquire, as ever, subject to condition.

However, even for the early editions, we are talking manageable amounts of money for most people (between £10 and £20).

Remember to keep an eye out for dust wrappers especially for the first three editions. I have only seen one of these on the first annual which I found in the middle of a large job lot of annuals I bought at an auction.

Most of the other annuals in the series are readily available although I have never seen a copy with dust wrapper of the one annual above which is absent from my own collection, the annual for 1952/53, #5.

The 1950’s editions are available but more often than not, without their dust wrapper. Those editions with a wrapper might cost a few pounds more and collectors can justify paying a slight premium, I’d suggest.

Then again, the condition of the wrappers, as always for 1950’s annuals can be anything from near mint to tatty and torn.

In the 1960’s, you are likely to find most of the editions, although it’s no surprise that you’ll see many copies of the editions published just after England’s 1966 World Cup success, #20 and #21.

The covers and pages of the softback editions at the end of the series, #25 and #26 can sometimes be age faded.

The later editions from the re-launch years are readily available for very cheap amounts.

 

Final word

In summary, these annuals are a fascinating snapshot, especially in the early editions through the 1950’s of how the F.A. tried to promote the game to younger players as Walter Winterbottom implemented the F.A. Coaching scheme throughout the sport, while puffing on his pipe.

Winterbottom’s biographer Graham Morse came up with the description of the annuals as ‘a clever blend of entertainment and education’ and having been through every one of them (except #5!) in order to write this post, I’d say he summed them up perfectly.

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Category: Football Annuals

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