Book Review: First Football Histories – The Arsenal FC Story by Mark Rasdall
The First Football Histories books are part of the output of The Football Ground Ltd company, which also includes the website www.thefootballground.com
Founder Mark Rasdall’s aim is that the books, “tell the key football stories, including brief geographies of the places concerned, as well as major, global historical events that were taking place at the same time.” At the heart of this, is his ambition to tackle the issue of getting youngsters to read, especially boys, who historically shun the written word.
In terms of the website, Rasdall’s vision is that the history based books, hook in with the website so that the breaking news of today becomes tomorrows history.
The Arsenal FC Story is the first of the history series and is due to be followed by an edition on Chelsea FC. The book on the Gunners doesn’t set out to tell a detailed game-by-game, season-by-season, review of Arsenal to the present day, but rather looks at the significant characters and moments in the history of the club. The key football story combined with geographical and historical information detailed in ‘Programme Notes’ and ‘Did you Know?’ provides the book with a pick-up, put-down feel, so that it can be read in manageable chunks.
Rasdall’s book has an educational aim, however, it lacks the illustrations and visuals in terms of graphs, and charts to provide the required pictorial engagement. Further, whilst Rasdall has a clear idea in terms of the branding in relation to the cover of the book (‘The Football Ground – History in the making’), perhaps even making the Arsenal edition red and white rather than black and white might have lifted the look of the book.
On the surface these might seem criticisms, but having corresponded with the author/founder, his responses to the initial review observations threw up some interesting points about the world of self-publishing. In general writers opt to go down that route for financial reasons, which can then impact on the final product.
Rasdall accepted that he would have liked to have more graphics within the book, but encountered technical problems. In terms of the book cover, he reasoned that on creating a branded series of books, he avoided the risk and problems that can occur further down the line in what is such a litigious marketplace, if football clubs of today want to flex their legal muscle. The reality is that it is not an easy path for those choosing to self-publish.
However, Rasdall has to be commended for the overall the concept of the site and the links to the Arsenal book (and those to come). What is evident is that he is a football fan at heart and that his vision to educate others through his books and website is a genuine and admirable one.
Note: A second book was published in October 2017 focusing on Chelsea FC