Book Review: Cambridge Rules – Written In Stone | Interpreted Worldwide | Brought Back to Cambridge by Neville Gabie and Alan Ward
Back in November 2016 Axis Projects Publishing released Breaking Ground: Art, Archaeology and Mythology. This beautifully constructed book, both in terms of words and images, looks at the story of an abandoned football ground, reclaimed by nature and the remarkable work to carry out an archaeological dig on the site of Bradford Park Avenue’s former home. The results of an initial excavation in November 2013 and another two years later are recorded in the book and accompanying DVD, which deservedly was shortlisted for the 2017 William Hill Sports Book of the Year. Now just over four years later, Neville Gabie and Alan Ward, who collaborated on the Bradford book, return with another equally creative football project.
It’s premise, is that 165 years after a group of Cambridge University students first played football with a set of rules akin to those of today on Parker’s Piece in Cambridge, the City Council commissioned an artwork to celebrate the ‘Cambridge Rules’ and acknowledge the importance of the location in the birth of the game.
The book, which cleverly is produced as a scale model of the artwork that adorns Parker’s Piece in Cambridge tells the story of the 1848 rules, and the creation of the art from the initial block of stone quarried from Portugal, through its splitting and engraving in Halifax, to the laying of the stones not only in the United Kingdom but Brazil, China Egypt, India and Kenya.
As with the Bradford book, this publication goes beyond simply the physical edition, which is beautifully illustrated and written throughout, with a number of QR codes placed on the pages, so that readers might experience, for example, the song sung before every Barcelona home game. Additionally, there is an accompanying website which can be found at: www.cambridgerules1848.com which provides further details about the project and is also a hub for football stories for fans from across the world. And that is where this book and its content is also a winner in its reflection of football with its roots in England but reflecting the spread to become the global game. One stone, split into nine and spread across the world.
It would be remiss to not also mention that the book details its collaboration with Street Child United which uses sport to bring street children together in a safe space. Ahead of the world’s biggest sporting competitions, like the FIFA World Cup, they put on international sports events, specifically for street-connected children, and the 2018 Football event in Russia is featured in the book.
Once again this is another excellent multifaceted book from Axis Projects.
For copies of the book go to: www.axisgraphicdesign.co.uk/product/cambridge-rules-1848-neville-gabie-alan-ward
(Axis Projects. January 2021. Paperback 800 pages)