Book Review – Wool City Rivals: A History in Colour by George Chilvers & John Dewhirst

Wool City Rivals: A History in Colour, is the seventh book from bantamspast, who as a publisher continue to create, “a collection of complementary books to provide a definitive history of Bradford soccer from the beginnings until the present day.” To date the six other titles are as follows:

Book 1: A History of Bradford City AFC in Objects by John Dewhirst (2014)

Book 2: Reinventing Bradford City: The Extraordinary Story of Bradford City’s Modern History, 1985-2016 by Jason McKeown (2016)

Book 3: Room at the Top – The Origins of Professional Football in Bradford and the Rivalry of Bradford FC and Manningham FC by John Dewhirst (2016)

Book 4: Life at the Top – The Rivalry of Manningham FC and Bradford FC and their Conversion from Rugby to Soccer by John Dewhirst (2016)

Book 5: Who We Are: Exploring the DNA of Bradford City AFC by Jason McKeown (2018)

Book 6: Late to the Game: The origins of association football in Bradford and the story of its pioneering clubs by Rob Grillo (2019)

This latest addition to the collection, Wool City Rivals: A History in Colour, is a collaboration between the driving force of bantamspast, John Dewhirst and George Chilvers, one of the leading colourisers of archive football photography.

The book is essentially made up of four chapters, which through over 170 colourised pictures chart the history of Bradford City and Bradford Park Avenue, with images stretching from as far back as 1895/96 through to 1972/73. It is a history that saw the two clubs play each other in each of the top four divisions of the English game, as well as highs such as Bradford City winning the FA Cup in 1910/11, through to the lows of Bradford Park Avenue dropping out of the Football League in 1969/70 after not being re-elected.

Besides the main four chapters, Chilvers provides a useful and interesting introduction in the book about colourisation and the process used on the old black and white images.  His meticulous work brings to life the pictures of ‘derby’ games past between the Bradford clubs, as well as so many other fixtures, team line-ups and crowd scenes, with Dewhirst providing his usual informative and well researched knowledge to the accompanying text.

Whilst the changing fortunes of the rivals is clearly the central premise of the book, the images also tell the story of so much more, in terms of social history through the period covered, as fashions changed, and the country emerged through the two World Wars.

Indeed, readers will want to revisit the book time and again as they notice different things in the background of the images, and marvel at a game from a very different era which like the Park Avenue ground is lost forever but is thankfully captured in this wonderfully atmospheric book.


(bantamspast. November 2020. Paperback 304 pages)


To purchase this book or get more information about bantamspast and their back catalogue click here

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Posted January 12, 2021 by Editor in category "Reviews

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