The Book Sure To Thrill Every Boy – A brief guide to The Topical Times Football Book

Posted: 27th November 2015

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The quote in the title above, ‘The Book Sure To Thrill Every Boy’ was one used in an advertisement created to promote the Topical Times Football Book for 1975.

Of course today, such a male oriented statement would not even be considered. But in different times, it was the boys’ market that publishers of such annuals focused their efforts on for birthdays and especially, at Christmas time.

‘Action, colour, secrets, laughs’ were all promised by the editorial team of this popular football annual, one which had been around at that time for over a decade.

Looking back at the annuals produced since 1959, the team probably felt that these qualities summed up well what the book had offered so far and could now be promised to readers.

The model for the book had been created initially in the late 1950’s, established through the 1960’s and could now be marketed into the 1970’s in efforts to maximise sales.

Certainly, when the first issue of the annual hit the market in 1959 (see above), of those characteristics promised in the advertisement from the future, laughs were very much at the forefront of the work of D.C.Thomson, the large publishing house originally from Dundee, who were responsible for some of the most successful and long lasting comics of the 20th century including the Beano and the Dandy.

While the Topical Times Football Book was at that time, D.C.Thomson’s only football offering, it reflected an involvement in football from the publishing house which went back to just after the Great War lasting throughout the inter-war years.

Although on two occasions, the Topical Times name had been used before 1914 in other publications by other publishers, it came to stay when D.C. Thomson launched the Topical Times newspaper in 1919.

Much of the paper was devoted to football and the front cover often had a football theme;

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Between 1927/28 and 1939/40, every year, D.C. Thomson published the pocket sized Topical Times Football Annual;

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A Topical Times Sports Annual which looked very similar to its football counterpart, was also published over this period and despite the general sports positioning, football was still a main part of the annual;

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After 1945, D.C. Thomson concentrated on other publications including the Beano and the Dandy.

The 1950’s had seen a gradual increase in the publication of what are now called boys’ football annuals, often given as gifts to their new football mad owners at Christmas or birthdays.

Titles like Charles Buchan’s Soccer Gift Book, the Big Book of Football Champions (at the start of the decade), the Sportsview Book of Soccer, Billy Wright’s Book of Soccer (towards the end of the decade) and others had shown that there was a market for such publications.

So in 1959, D.C. Thomson decided to launch a boys’ football annual, The Topical Times Football Book.

The first issue had a bright red dust wrapper with an image of Manchester United’s Bobby Charlton superimposed over an action shot from a top game in front of a stand which looked very much like the East Stand at Tottenham Hotspur’s White Hart Lane ground.

This first edition set out a stall as far as content and style recreated for many years, as we shall see below.

As with most boys’ annuals of the time, the annual had a dust wrapper and these lasted right through to the 1973/74 season, although missing the 1972 edition. I don’t know why this was the case; maybe they were testing the water on an annual without a wrapper?

Others who have written about the annual have commented on its egalitarian approach. Although each season, there would be extra content on teams who won the F.A. Cup and the 4 divisions of the Football League, when flicking through the earlier editions, it was often difficult to establish who these teams were.

Unlike media coverage today, the annual’s content did not focus on any ‘big 4’.

The first issue had 125 pages and the inside front panel of the wrapper promised;

  • A host of memorable pictures including, Giants of the Game in Full Colour
  • Thrilling moments from big matches – in vivid action
  • Big-size team groups from the honours list

Looking at the book now, it would have had any reader hooked from the start, including the inside cover pages where a Beano-style cartoon depicted a football match with a penalty about to be taken.

Somewhat stereotyped but nontheless engaging images of a beefy full back about to blast the spot kick past a terrified goalkeeper with team mates looking on (or in some cases unable to), a burly policeman telling the crowd to keep quiet, a blazer clad referee blowing his whistle, photographers with trilby hats set back on their heads and a small dog encroaching onto the pitch and on a house behind the ground, a chimney sweep going about his business all set a marvellous scene.

Taking the 1970’s advertisement promise of ‘Action, colour, secrets, laughs’, bit by bit, all the characteristics were delivered in one way or another by this first edition of the annual but also in the ones that followed across 4 decades.

Action was offered by many photographs of different types in both colour and black and white.

One of the best examples of action photographs was the back cover of the dust wrapper for the 1969/70 annual which showed a collage of action shots from different matches;

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A nice feature of the annuals in relation to photographs which was unique amongst similar boys’ annuals was a player photograph index towards the back of the book like this one also from the 1969/70 edition;

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Colour was delivered in the early years by the excellent dust wrappers and continued when these were replaced by laminated hard covers in the mid 1970’s.

As the years passed, there was more and more colour in the books. Indeed, when they began, you could describe them as black and white annuals with some colour but by the time they finished their life, the annuals were colour with a bit of black and white. The colour mix had reversed.

Inside the annuals, in the early editions, as well as different types of player photographs, there were some lovely colour player spreads like this Crystal Palace one from the 1962/63 edition with (clockwise from top right) Dennis Uphill, John McNichol, Roy Summersby and George Petchey;

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Secrets is an interesting one.

If we can be broad in our definition, the eclectic content of the books included plenty of features and photographs of players off the field of play, including what they got up to in their home lives.

While today, there will be some top players who have business interests away from their role as a professional footballer, in most of the years covered by the annual, players would have other business interests because after their playing days were over, they would still need to earn a living.

Then there were pages like this one. Who knew that these 4 well known players wore glasses off the pitch?

The Bespectacled ones are (clockwise from top right), Willie Henderson (Rangers), Nobby Stiles (Manchester United), Eric Ross (Glentoran) and Alan Mullery (Tottenham Hotspur);

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Laughs were provided by cartoons which were drawn by D.C.Thomson’s stable of artists who were used on the publisher’s other publications, especially their comics.

‘Laugh Time’ appeared in the first annual;

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Cartoons were used on the inside cover pages front and back of the early editions, like the one mentioned above.

Cartoons were used in a slightly different way as the annuals entered the 1990’s where in a few editions, a Roy of the Rovers style strip was produced like this one;

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The annual was a long lasting one by boys’ annual standards; 2001 was the last edition making 42 in total for any collector to now look out for.

As the years passed by, I’d say that the amount of content which might fall into the Secrets and Laughs categories above reduced and this changed the feel of the annuals slightly.

However, by the last few editions of the annual, while lacking the humour of the early days, the books had become an excellent collection of full page photographs of players of the time, usually in colour.

Although I haven’t found any references identifying the reasons why the annual stopped being published after 2001, the usual story with many of the titles reviewed on this site is that the basic economics just stop working at some point. When the title is not selling enough copies combined with ever increasing production costs putting a squeeze on profits, the justification for continued publication erodes. I imagine that this was the case with the book.

Let’s have a look at the books in 5 sections.

 

Late 1950’s and 1960’s – The early dust wrapper years

Initially, consistent with how boys’annuals were published at the time, The Topical Times Football Books had dust wrappers.

These were colourful and interesting in that until the later editions, they often included more than one image on them. Indeed, fans of the old ground would probably find themselves drawn to the stands in the backgrounds of the images.

Of course, most of these marvellous edifices are no more and in some ways, therefore, the dust wrapper images perform an additional role of reminding us of the work of the people who shaped the imagery of the early modern game, like architect Archibald Leitch who worked on so many of the top grounds designing either individual stands or usually, the whole ground.

For all of these editions and up to and including the 1972/73 edition, there were different images on the front and back of the dust wrappers and these will be noted below although in some cases, the players in the front cover images were not identified.

 

1. 1959/60

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Covered the 1958/59 season.

The front cover of dust wrapper (above) showed Manchester United’s Bobby Charlton superimposed on top of an action scene.

Kilmarnock‘s goalkeeper, Jimmy Brown was on the dust wrapper’s back cover;

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Team photos (all b/w) were;
Glenavon – Irish Cup Winners
Linfield – Irish League Champions
Nottingham Forest – FA Cup winners
Rangers – Scottish League Champions
St Mirren – Scottish Cup Winners
Wolves – 1st Division Champions

The annual included good Manchester United photo content including this one of Warren Bradley;

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There was also Arsenal, Aston Villa, Fulham, Hibernian, Huddersfield Town, Norwich City, Real Madrid, Luton Town, Stoke City and Wolves content / interest.

 

2. 1960/61

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Covered the 1959/60 season.

The players on the front cover of the dust wrapper (above) were not identified but on the back cover Hibernian and England striker Joe Baker was shown;

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Team photos (all b/w) were;
Aston Villa – 2nd Division Champions
Burnley – 1st Division Champions
Cardiff City – 2nd Division Runners-Up
Hearts – Scottish League Champions
Tottenham Hotspur – Costliest team in Britain
Wolves – FA Cup winners

The annual included good Tottenham Hotspur photo content including this one of Dave MacKay;

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There was also Blackburn Rovers, Chelsea, Clyde, Fulham, Hearts, Newcastle United, Rangers, Sheffield Wednesday, Stoke City, Swansea Town and Wolves interest / content.

 

3. 1961/62

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Covered the 1960/61 season.

The goalkeeper on the front cover of the dust wrapper (above) was not identified but on the back cover Everton’s George Thomson was shown with his car at the seaside;

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Team photos (b/w unless stated) were;
Dunfermline Athletic – Scottish Cup Winners
Leicester City – FA Cup Finalists
Peterborough United – 4th Division Champions
Rangers – Scottish League Champions
Sheffield United – 2nd Division Champions
Tottenham Hotspur – 1st Division Champions + FA Cup Winners (colour)
Walthamstow Avenue – Amateur Kingpins of 1960/61

The annual included good Tottenham Hotspur content after their double winning season;

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There was also Arsenal, Burnley, Celtic, Chelsea, Dundee United, England, Everton, Kilmarnock, Manchester City, Manchester United, Motherwell, Peterborough United, Real Madrid, Sheffield Wednesday, Sunderland and Wolves interest / content.

 

4. 1962/63

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Covers the 1961/62 season.

The players on the front cover of the dust wrapper (above) were not identified but on the back cover, Fulham and England’s Johnny Haynes was shown leading out his national team against Portugal at Wembley;

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Team photos (all b/w) were;
Burnley – 1st Division runners-up and FA Cup Finalists
Leyton Orient – 2nd Division runners-up
Liverpool – 2nd Division champions
Millwall – 4th Division Champions
Portsmouth – 3rd Division champions
Rangers – Scottish Cup Winners
Tottenham Hotspur – FA Cup winners

The annual included good Burnley photo content including this spread with (clockwise from top right) Jimmy McIlroy, Alex Elder, Tommy Cummings and John Connelly;

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There was also Arsenal, Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers, Burnley, Celtic, Crystal Palace, Fulham, Ipswich Town, Liverpool, Manchester City, Sheffield Wednesday, Third Lanark, Tottenham Hotspur, Wales, West Ham United, Wolves and World Cup ‘66 interest / content.

 

5. 1963/64

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Covered the 1962/63 season.

The front cover of the dust wrapper (above) showed Chelsea’s Peter Bonetti saving from Manchester United’s David Herd.

The back cover had an interesting graphic showing cartoon characters from different countries with most of them involving a football;

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Team photos (b/w unless stated) were;
Brentford – 4th Division Champions
Everton – 1st Division Champions
Leicester City – FA Cup Finalists (colour)
Manchester United – FA Cup Winners (colour)
Northampton Town – 3rd Division Champions
Rangers – Scottish League and Cup winners
St. Johnstone – Scottish Second Division Champions
Stoke City – 2nd Division Champions
Tottenham Hotspur – European Cup Winners’ Cup holders

The annual included good Everton photo content including this player spread with (clockwise from top right) Alex Young, Gordon West, Roy Vernon and Dennis Stevens;

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There was also good Chelsea photo content including this full page shot of Terry Venables;

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There was also Arsenal, Benfica, Leicester City, Liverpool, Rangers / Partick Thistle, Stoke City, Sunderland, Tottenham Hotspur, Wales, West Ham United and Wolves interest / content.

 

6. 1964/65

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Covered the 1963/64 season.

The players on the front cover of the dust wrapper (above) were not identified but on the back cover, the Captains of Glasgow Rangers (Bobby Shearer) and Real Madrid (Francisco Gento) exchanged pennants before their match;

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Team photos (b/w unless stated) were;
Coventry City – 3rd Division Champions
Gillingham – 4th Division Champions
Leeds United – 2nd Division Champions
Morton – Team photos x 2 – one in suits; the other in their kit)
Northern Ireland – With players in their club kits
Rangers – Scottish Treble winners (colour)
Rest of the World – Team v. England at Wembley (colour)
Sunderland – 2nd Division Runners-Up.
West Ham United – FA Cup Winners (colour)

The annual included good Liverpool photo content including this one of a young Ian Callaghan who would go on to make over 800 appearances for the Reds;

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There was also Arsenal, Aston Villa, Blackpool, Blackburn Rovers, Celtic, Charlton Athletic, Chelsea, Everton, Hearts, Leeds United, Manchester City, Manchester United, Queens Park, Preston North End, Rangers, Southampton, Swindon Town, Stoke City and West Ham United interest / content.

 

7. 1965/66

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Covered the 1964/65 season.

The front and back cover of the dust wrapper (above) showed a large image of Chelsea’s Bobby Tambling above a smaller image of an unidentified match.

Team photos (b/w unless stated) were;
Carlisle United – 3rd Division Champions
Celtic – Scottish Cup Winners (colour).
Kilmarnock – Scottish 1st Division Champions (colour).
Leeds United – 1st Division Runners-Up and FA Cup Finalists (colour)
Liverpool – FA Cup Winners (colour).
Manchester United – 1st Division Champions
Newcastle United – 2nd Division Champions
Northampton Town – 2nd Division Runners-Up

The annual included good Manchester United photo content including this shot of Bobby Charlton off on another trip;

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There was also Blackpool, Brighton and Hove Albion, Bristol City, Celtic, Chelsea, Fulham, Kilmarnock, Leeds United, Liverpool, Manchester City, Newcastle United, Plymouth Argyle, Rangers, Sheffield United, Stoke City, Tottenham Hotspur, Walsall, Watford, West Ham United and World Cup ’66 interest / content.

 

8. 1966/67

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Covered the 1965/66 season.

The front and back cover of the dust wrapper (above) showed Manchester United’s George Best taking on Fulham’s George Cohen. The smaller image was an action shot from a Celtic match.

Team photos (b/w unless stated) were;
Celtic – Scottish League and League Cup winners
Darlington – 4th Division Runners-Up
Doncaster Rovers – 4th Division Champions
Everton – FA Cup winners (colour)
Hull City – 3rd Division Champions
Manchester City – 2nd Division Champions
Millwall – 3rd Division Runners-Up
Sheffield Wednesday – FA Cup Runners-Up
Southampton – 2nd Division Runners-Up

The annual included good Liverpool photo content with this photograph showing Ian St. John taking on Manchester United’s Bill Foulkes;

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There was also Celtic, Chelsea, Dundee / Dundee United, England (inside back cover team line up at Wembley for Yugoslavia game), Everton, Huddersfield Town, Hull City, Leeds United, Leicester City, Manchester City, Manchester United, Newcastle United, Norwich City, Millwall, Preston North End (all Preston’s Scottish players in their suits), Rangers, Southampton, Sunderland, Tottenham Hotspur, West Bromwich Albion and World Cup ’70 interest / content.

 

9. 1967/68

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Covered up to and including the 1966/67 season.

The front and back covers of the dust wrapper (above) showed action shots from a Tottenham Hotspur match (left) and an Everton match (right).

The annual again included good Manchester United photo content with Denis Law looking on as an opposition goalkeeper catches a cross on the annual’s title page;

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There was also Arsenal, Burnley, Celtic, Coventry City, Derby County, FIFA, Hull City, Liverpool, Queens Park Rangers, Rangers / Celtic, Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham United and Wolves interest / content.

 

10. 1968/69

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Covered the 1967/68 season.

Although not identified, the dust wrapper’s front and back cover action image (above) looks like Everton‘s goalkeeper Gordon West clearing an attack from Manchester United with Denis Law (number 8) looking on.

The annual included good Manchester City and Manchester United photo content, sometimes showing players from both clubs together. City’s Mike Summerbee and United’s George Best were good friends and spent time together away from their clubs;

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There was also Celtic, Chelsea, Everton, Glentoran, Liverpool, Leeds United, Newcastle United, Sheffield Wednesday, Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur, West Bromwich Albion, West Ham United and World Cup ‘70 interest / content.

 

11. 1969/70

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Covered the 1968/69 season.

Although not identified, the dust wrapper’s front cover action image (above) looks like Manchester United’s Tony Dunne with West Ham United’s Johnny Sissons chasing from behind.

The dust wrapper’s back cover showed a collage of action photos from different games;

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The annual included good Leeds United photo content like this one which showed (clockwise from top right), Peter Lorimer, Rod Belfitt, Norman Hunter and Terry Cooper;

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There was also Arsenal, Aston Villa, Crystal Palace, Celtic, Chelsea, Everton, Liverpool, Manchester United, Newcastle United, Rangers, Swindon Town, Sunderland, Tottenham Hotspur, West Bromwich Albion, West Ham United, Wolves and World Cup ’70 interest / content.

 

1970’s – Laminated covers take over

The 1970’s saw another decade of annuals which conformed to the model created in the earlier edition.

Dust wrappers were used up to and including the 1975 edition, although the 1972/73 edition did not have a wrapper and was the first of the annuals published with laminated hard covers, the way that many other football annuals of this time were produced by other publishers.

 

12. 1970/71

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Covered the 1969/70 season.

The front and back covers of the dust wrapper (above) showed an action shot from an Everton / Southampton match with the Toffees’ midfielder, Alan Ball leaping for a header.

In addition to the dust wrapper images above, there was good Everton photo content including this pictorial feature on Gordon West giving hand signal instructions to his defence;

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There was also Arsenal, Barnsley, Brechin City, Burnley, Celtic, Charlton Athletic, Chelsea, Cowdenbeath, Derby County, Huddersfield Town, Leeds United, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Newcastle United, Queens Park Rangers, Southampton, West Ham United, Wolves and World Cup ’74 interest / content.

 

13. 1971/72

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Covered the 1970/71 season.

The front cover of the dust wrapper (above) showed an action shot from an Everton match with striker Alan Whittle forcing the ball home.

The back cover of the dust wrapper showed an action shot in which Tottenham Hotspur’s Martin Chivers headed goalwards with Manchester City’s Tony Towers and behind him, Colin Bell defending;

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There was good Chelsea photo content including this image of a smiling Peter Houseman;

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There was also Arsenal, Cardiff City, Celtic, Derby County, England, Everton, Leeds United, Leicester City, Liverpool, Notts County, Nottingham Forest, Rangers, Sheffield United, Southampton, Stenhousemuir and Tottenham Hotspur.

 

14. 1972/73

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Covered the 1971/72 season.

The front cover of the annual (no dust wrapper for this edition) showed an action shot from a Queens Park Rangers match with striker Rodney Marsh jumping high (above).

The back cover of the annual showed a goalmouth action shot from what looks like a match between Liverpool and Manchester United;

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There was good Leeds United photo content including this shot of Peter Lorimer forcing his way through a cluster of Liverpool players (from left to right), Emlyn Hughes, Larry Lloyd and John Toshack;

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There was also Aberdeen, Arsenal, Aston Villa, Brentford, Celtic, Chelsea, Derby County, England, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Newcastle United, Norwich City, Sheffield United, Stoke City, Tottenham Hotspur, West Bromwich Albion, West Ham United, Wolves and West Ham United interest / content.

 

15. 1973/74

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Covered the 1972/73 season.

The front and back covers of the dust wrapper (above) showed action shot from a Tottenham Hotspur v. West Ham United match at White Hart Lane with the East Stand looming behind the players.

Including the image on the dust wrapper, there was good Tottenham Hotspur photo content including this feature on goalkeeper, Pat Jennings;

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There was also Arbroath, Arsenal, Chelsea, Celtic, Coventry City Ipswich Town, Leeds United, Liverpool, Manchester United, Newcastle United, Queens Park, Rangers, Sheffield United, Sunderland (colour team photo), Swindon Town, West Ham United and 1974 World Cup interest / content.

 

16. 1975

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Covered the 1973/74 season.

The front (and back) covers of the dust wrapper (this was the last edition published with a dust wrapper) showed an action shot from an Highbury where Arsenal’s John Radford took on Leicester City defenders including Graham Cross (right).

Including the image on the dust wrapper, there was good Arsenal photo content including this head-shot of midfield hard man, England international, Peter Storey;

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There was also Bristol Rovers, Burnley, Chelsea, Coventry City, England, Everton, Ipswich Town, Leeds United, Liverpool / Newcastle United, Manchester City, Manchester United, Middlesbrough, Rangers, Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham United, Wolves and World Cup 1978 interest / content.

 

17. 1976

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Covered the 1974/75 season.

The front and back covers of the annual (there were no more editions published with dust wrappers) showed action shot with Chelsea’s Gary Locke taking on Liverpool’s Steve Heighway.

There was good Queens Park Rangers photo content including this image of striker Don Givens;

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There was also Arsenal, Aston Villa, Charlton Athletic, Chester, Derby County, England, Ipswich Town, Leicester City, Liverpool, Manchester United, Newport County, Partick Thistle, Stoke City, Sunderland, Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United interest / content.

 

18. 1977 img235

Covered the 1975/76 season.

The front and back covers of the annual (above) showed a goalmouth shot with Burnley players including Peter Noble (right) taking on an unidentified Norwich City player (left).

There was good Tottenham Hotspur photo content including this shot of striker Chris Jones being tackled by Derby County’s Colin Todd;

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There was also Arsenal, Aston Villa, Bristol City, Carlisle United, Chelsea, Derby County, Hibernian, Ipswich Town, Leeds United, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Montrose, Norwich City, Queens Park Rangers, Sheffield United, Rangers, Southampton, Stoke City, Sunderland, West Ham United, Workington and World Cup / FIFA interest.

 

19. 1978

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Covered the 1976/77 season.

The front and back covers of the annual (above) showed Manchester United’s Lou Macari.

There was good Manchester United content including the photo above and others like this one of Steve Coppell;

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There was also Arsenal, Aston Villa, Birmingham City, Cardiff City, Celtic, Chelsea, Derby County, Everton, Hartlepool, Ipswich Town, Leeds United, Liverpool, Meadowbank Thistle, Middlesbrough, Newcastle United, Queens Park Rangers, Stoke City, Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham United, Wolves and World Cup ’78 interest / content.

 

20. 1979

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Covered the 1977/78 season.

The front and back covers of the annual (above) showed action from a Manchester United match.

There was good Nottingham Forest photo content including this one of goalkeeper Peter Shilton;

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There was also Arsenal, Aston Villa, Bolton Wanderers, Chelsea, Everton, Ipswich Town, Leeds United, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Middlesbrough, Newcastle United, Norwich City, Partick Thistle, Queens Park Rangers, Queens Park, Rangers, Southampton, Sunderland, Tottenham Hotspur, West Bromwich Albion, Wrexham, Wimbledon and World Cup ’78 interest / content.

 

1980’s – The successful formula is continued

Into a new decade, the annual was evolving with more colour content and a slightly more serious tone.

The annual had been in publication for 2 decades by now and the size, length and look of the book was quite similar to how it had been in its early years, although the absence of the excellent dust wrappers was a shame but entirely consistent with how such books were now published.

Inevitably, that look projecting out at readers had evolved slightly, although this change was as much to do with the changing look of football, including ground developments, kits, boots, player hairstyles and spectator fashion.

Top teams and players were featured as ever and this was the time that Liverpool, along with Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest as well as Aston Villa were strong sides both at home in domestic football and also in European competitions, especially the European Cup.

 

21. 1980 img278

Covered the 1978/79 season.

The front and back covers of the annual (above) showed action from a match between Queens Park Rangers and Nottingham Forest.

There was good Queens Park Rangers photo content in addition to the front cover image like this one of Stan Bowles;

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There was also Arsenal, Aston Villa, Benfica, Birmingham City / Derby County, Bolton Wanderers, Celtic / Rangers, Chelsea, Coventry City, Crystal Palace, Everton, Hereford United, Kilmarnock, Leeds United, Liverpool, Manchester United, Newcastle United, Nottingham Forest, Queens Park, Stockport County, Stoke City, Stranraer, Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham United and West Bromwich Albion interest / content.

 

22. 1981

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Covered the 1979/80 season.

The front and back covers of the annual (above) showed a large image of a very happy looking Terry McDermott (Liverpool) and a smaller image from an unidentified match which looks like Tottenham Hotspur playing at home.

There was good Liverpool photo content in addition to the front cover image above including this one of Ray Kennedy playing his old club Arsenal with Pat Rice in close attendance and also with his family at home;

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There was also Arsenal, Aston Villa, Birmingham City, Celtic, Coventry City, Everton, Ipswich Town, Leeds United, Middlesbrough, Manchester City, Manchester United, Norwich City, Nottingham Forest Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur and Wolves content /interest.

 

23. 1982 img282

Covered the 1980/81 season.

The front and back covers of the annual (above) showed action from an Arsenal home game at Highbury with what looks like Alan Sunderland launching a strike on goal.

There was good Arsenal photo content in addition to the front cover image above including this 3 page feature on Pat Jennings and his involvement in a pre-match routine and then a match;

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There was also Aston Villa, Chelsea, Birmingham City, Everton, Ipswich Town, Leeds United, Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Middlesbrough, Nottingham Forest, Rangers, Rotherham, Southampton, Sunderland, Swansea City, Swindon Town, Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham United, West Bromwich Albion, Wolves and World Cup ’82 interest / content.

 

24. 1983

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Covered the 1981/82 season.

The front and back covers of the annual (above) showed action from a match between Tottenham Hotspur and Aston Villa.

There was good Arsenal photo content including this shot of Alan Sunderland;

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There was also Aston Villa, Birmingham City, Celtic, Ipswich Town, Liverpool/Everton, Luton Town, Manchester City, Manchester United, Northern Ireland, Notts County, Rochdale, Swansea City, Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham United and West Bromwich Albion interest / content

 

25. 1984

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Covers the 1982/83 season.

The front and back covers of the annual (above) showed West Ham United’s Ray Stewart and from the look of the players behind him, including Billy Bonds and an obscured Paul Stewart, it looks like Ray is taking one of his trade mark penalty kicks.

There was good Manchester United photo content including these action shots from the 1983 F.A. Cup Final against Brighton & Hove Albion.

The Red Devils won the Cup after a replay and Captain, Bryan Robson holds the trophy aloft;

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There was also Aberdeen, Arsenal, Aston Villa, Celtic, Coventry City, Birmingham City, Fulham, Ipswich Town, Liverpool, Leicester City, Manchester City, Nottingham Forest, Notts County, Queens Park Rangers, Rochdale, Southampton, Sheffield Wednesday, Stoke City, Tottenham Hotspur/Crystal Palace, Watford, West Ham United, West Bromwich Albion and Wolves interest / content.

 

26. 1985

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Covered the 1983/84 season.

The front and back covers of the annual (above) showed Liverpool’s Kenny Dalglish and action from a Liverpool game and one other.

There was good Liverpool photo content and as well as the images above, there was this one of midfielder Sammy Lee;

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There was also Arsenal, Aston Villa, Birmingham City, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, England, Everton, Leicester City, Luton Town, Manchester City, Manchester United, Newcastle United, Nottingham Forest, Norwich City, Oxford United, Queens Park Rangers, Rangers, Sheffield Wednesday, Tottenham Hotspur, Watford, West Bromwich Albion and West Ham United interest / content.

 

27. 1986

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Covered the 1984/85 season.

The front and back covers of the annual (above) showed action from a Merseyside derby with Liverpool’s Ian Rush fighting off a challenge from an Everton defender.

There was good Everton photo content and in addition to the cover image above, there was this one of goalkeeper, Neville Southall;

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There was also Arsenal, Aston Villa, Chelsea, Ipswich Town, Leicester City, Newcastle United, Norwich City, Nottingham Forest, Manchester United, Queens Park Rangers, Sheffield Wednesday, Tottenham Hotspur, Watford and West Ham United interest / content.

 

28. 1987 img292

Covered the 1985/86 season.

The front and back covers of the annual (above) showed action from a match between Aston Villa and Everton.

The annual featured the 1986 Mexico World Cup including the ‘Hand of God’ goal by Diego Maradona;

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There was also Arsenal, Aston Villa, Banbury United, Birmingham City, Carlisle United, Chelsea, Derby County, Everton, Leicester City, Liverpool, Luton Town, Manchester City, Manchester United, Norwich City, Nottingham Forest, Oxford United, Sheffield Wednesday, Southampton, Stirling Albion, Tottenham Hotspur, Watford, West Ham United and Wimbledon / Charlton Athletic interest / content.

 

29. 1988

img294

Covered the 1986/87 season.

The front and back covers of the annual (above) showed action from another Merseyside derby between Everton and Liverpool with the Toffees’ Graeme Sharp (left) taking on the Reds’ Barry Venison (right).

There was good Arsenal photo content including this photograph of midfielder Steve Williams;

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There was also Celtic, Charlton Athletic, Chelsea, Coventry City, Derby County, England, Luton Town, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Newcastle United, Norwich City, Nottingham Forest, Rangers, Sheffield Wednesday, Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur, Watford, West Ham United and Wimbledon interest / content.

 

30. 1989 img295

Covered the 1987/88 season.

The front and back covers of the annual (above) showed action from yet another Merseyside derby with Everton’s Peter Reid clashing with Liverpool’s Steve McMahon.

There was good Liverpool photo content in addition to the cover image above including this photo of Steve Nichol celebrating a goal;

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There was also Arsenal, Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers, Celtic, Coventry City, Euro 88, Everton, Luton Town, Manchester City, Manchester United, Middlesbrough, Millwall, Newcastle United, Norwich City, Nottingham Forest, Portsmouth, Queens Park Rangers, Rangers, Sheffield Wednesday, Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham United and Wimbledon interest / content.

 

1990’s – Into the Premier League era

The annuals continued to deliver the content which had made them so popular.

In some ways, it was a big achievement to be still going by this time, as many other boys’ football annuals of similar style had long since stopped publication. Of course, the end of other titles was often linked to changes in ownership or where the annuals were linked to magazines, if these had been discontinued, so usually the counterpart annual would come to an end.

D.C. Thomson continued to publish The Topical Times Football Book despite the shrinking of the market for the boys’ football annual genre.

Even more so than before, there was a strong emphasis on the players from the top clubs and Liverpool and Everton continued to feature prominently as the decade began.

However, as the Premier League was launched at the start of the 1992/93 season, the decade ahead would see a shift in domestic power where Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United and from the middle of the decade, Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal teams would start to dominate. The front covers and main content in the annuals would start to reflect this change.

Major championships and England’s involvement in them were also featured every 2 years.

 

31. 1990

img296

Covered the 1988/89 season.

The front and back covers of the annual (above) showed an action shot with Liverpool’s Ian Rush competing for the ball with Nottingham Forest’s Des Walker.

There was good Liverpool photo content in addition to the cover image above, including a pictorial behind the scenes look at Anfield on the inside front cover pages (this is the left side image);

img311

There was also Arsenal, Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers, Bristol Rovers, Celtic, Chelsea, Derby County, Everton, Luton Town, Manchester City, Manchester United, Middlesbrough, Millwall, Newcastle United, Norwich City, Nottingham Forest, Oldham Athletic, Queens Park Rangers, Rangers, Sheffield Wednesday, Stockport County, Tottenham Hotspur, Wimbledon, Wolves and World Cup ’90 interest / content.

 

32. 1991

img297

Covered the 1989/90 season.

The front and back covers of the annual (above) showed Everton’s Pat Nevin alongside action from a Manchester United v. Arsenal match.

Featured World Cup ’90 in Italy where England came so close and yet so far from winning the Cup;

img312

There was also Arsenal, Aston Villa, Celtic, Chelsea, Derby County, Everton, Liverpool, Luton Town, Manchester City, Manchester United, Millwall, Nottingham Forest, Oldham Athletic, Queens Park Rangers, Rangers, Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur, Wimbledon and West Ham United interest / content.

 

33. 1992

img298

Covered the 1990/91 season.

The front and back covers of the annual (above) showed Liverpool’s Ian Rush being marked by Coventry City’s Terry Butcher. 

Again, there was good Liverpool photo content including the cover image above and also this feature about the back end of the season where Kenny Dalglish resigned as Liverpool manager due to ill health and was replaced by Graeme Souness as the Reds lost the First Division title narrowly to Arsenal;

img313

There was also Arsenal, Aston Villa, Celtic, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Everton, Leeds United, Luton Town, Manchester City, Manchester United, Norwich City, Nottingham Forest, Oldham Athletic, Queens Park Rangers, Rangers, Sheffield United, Sheffield Wednesday, Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham United and Wimbledon interest / content.

 

34. 1993

img299

Covered the 1991/92 season.

The front and back covers of the annual (above) showed Nottingham Forest’s Chris Woods calling out instructions to his team mates.

Includes a 5 page feature on the 1992 European Championships;

img314

There was also Arsenal, Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers, Celtic, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Everton, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Middlesbrough, Norwich City, Nottingham Forest, Notts County, Oldham Athletic, Queens Park Rangers, Rangers, Sheffield United, Sheffield Wednesday, Southampton, Sunderland, Tottenham Hotspur and Wimbledon interest / content.

 

35. 1994 img300

Covered the 1992/93 season.

The front and back covers of the annual (above) showed Manchester United’s Mark Hughes powering his way towards goal.

There was good Arsenal photo content including this one of Ray Parlour;

img315

There was also Aberdeen, Arsenal, Aston Villa, Bolton Wanderers, Celtic, Coventry City, Cowdenbeath, Crystal Palace, Derby County, Everton, Leeds United, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Newcastle United, Queens Park Rangers, Rangers, Sheffield Wednesday, Stoke City, Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham United and Wimbledon interest / content.

 

36. 1995

img301

Covered the 1993/94 season.

The front cover of the annual (above) showed a large photograph of Manchester United’s Ryan Giggs and a small inset photograph of Leeds United’s Gary McAllister.

Also, from this edition onwards, the back cover of the annual showed a different image than the front like the dust wrappers on the early editions (see above).

For this edition, the players shown on the back cover were (clockwise from top right), Rangers’ Mark Hateley, Newcastle United’s Andy Cole, Blackburn Rovers’ Alan Shearer with Aston Villa’s Paul McGrath and Liverpool’s Neil Ruddock with Arsenal’s Ian Wright;

img318

The annual included coverage of the 1994 World Cup in the United States;

img317

There was also Aberdeen, Arsenal, Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers, Celtic, Chelsea, Coventry City, Crystal Palace, Everton, Ipswich Town, Leicester City, Liverpool, Manchester United, Newcastle United, Norwich City, Nottingham Forest, Oldham Athletic, Queens Park Rangers, Rangers, Sheffield United, Sheffield Wednesday, Southampton, Swindon Town, Tottenham Hotspur, Tranmere Rovers, West Ham United and Wimbledon interest / content.

 

37. 1996

img302

Covered the 1994/95 season.

The front cover of the annual (above) showed Manchester United’s Andy Cole.

The back cover of the annual showed Arsenal’s Ian Wright in the centre surrounded by (clockwise from right to left); Blackburn Rovers’ Alan Shearer, Rangers’ Brian Laudrup, Tottenham Hotspur’s Darren Anderton with England and Newcastle United’s Rob Lee;

img319

The book included a preview Euro ’96 which would be held in England;

img320

There was also Aberdeen, Arsenal, Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers, Birmingham City, Bolton Wanderers, Carlisle United, Celtic, Chelsea, Coventry City, Everton, Leeds United, Leicester City, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Middlesbrough, Newcastle United, Nottingham Forest, Raith Rovers, Sheffield United, Sheffield Wednesday, Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United interest / content.

 

38. 1997  img303

Covered the 1995/96 season.

The front cover of the annual (above) showed action from the England v. Scotland match at Euro ’96 with England’s Paul Gascoigne (who scored that outstanding winning goal) tussling with Scotland’s Colin Hendry.

The back cover of the annual showed (clockwise from top right) Blackburn Rovers’ Alan Shearer, Tottenham Hotspur’s Teddy Sherringham with England, Liverpool’s Robbie Fowler being tackled by Aston Villa’s Ugo Ehiogu, Chelsea’s Mark Hughes with Arsenal’s Tony Adams and Rangers Paul Gascoigne with a Celtic defender;

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The book included a review Euro ’96 where England reached the Semi-Final stage;

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There was also Arsenal, Aston Villa, Celtic, Chelsea, Derby County, Everton, Leeds United, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Newcastle United, Nottingham Forest, Rangers, Sheffield United, Southampton, Sunderland, Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham United, Wimbledon and Wolves interest / content.

 

39. 1998

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Covered the 1996/97 season.

The front cover of the annual (above) showed Manchester United’s Ryan Giggs forging his way past two Liverpool defenders.

The back cover of the annual showed (clockwise from top right) Manchester United’s Paul Ince with England, Newcastle United’s Alan Shearer, Celtic’s Paolo Di Canio tussling with a Rangers defender, Chelsea’s Mark Hughes with Manchester United’s David May and Aston Villa’s Mark Bosnich with Arsenal’s Ian Wright;

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There was good Manchester United content in addition to the front cover image above including this image of Peter Schmeichel;

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There was also Barnsley, Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers, Celtic, Chelsea, Coventry City, Crystal Palace, Derby County, Everton, Leeds United, Leicester City, Liverpool, Manchester City, Middlesbrough, Newcastle United, Nottingham Forest, Portsmouth, Rangers, Tottenham Hotspur, Sheffield Wednesday, Stockport County and West Ham United interest / content.

 

40. 1999

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Covered the 1997/98 season.

The front cover of the annual (above) showed Manchester United’s David Beckham, Newcastle United’s Alan Shearer on England duty and Blackburn Rovers’ Kevin Gallagher.

The back cover of the annual showed a number of action photographs underneath a larger image of Brazil’s Ronaldo;

img325The annual included inside cover images on the 1998 World Cup in France and also this quiz;

img326

There was also Arsenal, Aston Villa, Barnsley, Bolton Wanderers, Celtic, Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Derby County, Everton, Leeds United, Leicester City, Liverpool, Manchester City, Middlesbrough, Newcastle United, Nottingham Forest, Sheffield Wednesday, Sunderland and Tottenham Hotspur interest / content.

 

2000’s – Final editions

The last 2 editions of the annual continued in the style that had evolved towards the end of the 1990’s with a strong focus on players and teams from the Premier League.

 

41. 2000  img306

Covered the 1998/99 season.

The front cover of the annual (above) showed action from a Liverpool game with Jamie Carragher in the centre of things.

The back cover of the annual showed a few action shots alongside a larger image of Tottenham Hotspur’s David Ginola;

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There was also Arsenal, Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers, Bradford City, Celtic, Chelsea, Coventry City, Derby County, Everton, Leeds United, Leicester City, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Mansfield Town, Middlesbrough, Newcastle United, Rangers, Rushden and Diamonds, Sheffield Wednesday, Southampton, Sunderland and Tottenham Hotspur interest / content.

 

42. 2001

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Covered the 1999/2000 season;

The front cover of the annual (above) showed Liverpool’s Michael Owen on duty with England.

The back cover of the annual showed various players on international duty (clockwise right to left) including Manchester United’s Ryan Giggs with Wales, Leicester City’s Neil Lennon with Northern Ireland, Blackburn Rovers’ Christian Dailly with Scotland and Coventry City’s Robbie Keen with Eire;

img328

There was also Arsenal, Aston Villa, Bradford City, Charlton Athletic, Chelsea, Coventry City, Everton, Ipswich Town, Leeds United, Leicester City, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Middlesbrough, Newcastle United, Rangers, Real Madrid, Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur, Tranmere Rovers and West Ham United interest / content.

 

Collecting, values and prices

As with many annuals of this type, the more recent ones are easier to find and also cost a few pounds. The older annuals, especially the early years are harder to find and will cost more to acquire.

For example, I have seen very few copies of the first edition from 1959.

Also, again, as with most of the old annuals, while the more recent years may be easier to find, collectors are wise to keep an eye out for the standard faults which apply to these types of books, including split spines, price clipping, annotations to the inside front cover pages, tears to inside pages and pages which may have had photos cut out of them.

With the Topical Times Football Books, because the later editions have white backgrounds to the covers, on some editions, the white has faded or yellowed.

For the earlier editions, assuming they have their original dust wrappers, these are also likely to show the usual sort of condition issues which is usually tears and rips, especially to the top and bottom edges and the spine ends.

 

Final word

So that’s it as far as our review of this wonderful boys’ football annual is concerned.

From Bobby Charlton to Michael Owen, the front covers alone across over 4 decades provide a wonderful snapshot of the changing face of football and the early editions with their colourful and creative dust wrapper designs and quirky feel to their contents showing football and footballers both on and off the pitch, at the ground and away from it too are especially good and favourites of mine.

Action, colour, secrets and laughs is what D.C. Thomson promised and those qualities were pretty much delivered across the annual’s long life.

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