Book Review: The Ghosts of Inchmery Road by Mat Guy

On 19 April 2024 The FA announced that from the 2024/25 season there would not be an replays in the FA Cup First Round onwards, with part of the reasoning to reduce fixture congestion and the demands on players. One month later the Premier League final games were on Sunday 19 May 2024 as Manchester City created history taking the top division for a fourth consecutive season. Three days later, in a ‘Post-Season Friendly’ Spurs and Newcastle United flew half way round the world to play in Melbourne, Australia. Some of those players involved in that game face a busy summer with the European Championship in Germany, which starts on 14 June 2024, and others in the Copa America gets under way in the United States six days later.

What may you ask has this got to do with Mat Guy’s atmospheric and nostalgic The Ghosts of Inchmery Road? Well it illustrates where the modern game since the inception of the Premier League has gone and will no doubt continue to go. What we have is now a commodity rather than a game, where tradition and history continue to be eroded, where money is all that seems to matter and the club connection to the local community and its roots seem less important than creating fan bases aboard and selling to ‘tourist supporters’. Mat Guy through this book and the team that is never named but known as the eponymous ‘Town’, provide a tale of a club far removed from that we have today in the top flight and across much of the professional game.

Here through the device of the book within a book, in this case a leatherbound ledger started by the original nightwatchman at the ground, Gerald Mackie, the history of the club is told. The current nightwatchman Charlie Truckle is the narrator who takes readers through the pages of the ledger. Each of the five nightwatchman to date has tales to tell, some of joy, some of tragedy and some of triumph. Each in their own style and manner, but all relaying tales of the past to the present day; the ghosts and soul of the club brought to life every time the ledger is opened and a new entry added.

This is a story about a club and its community, its heart and soul; those that work behind the scenes; the volunteers that turn up in good times and bad, and without question – purely for the love of the club and the game. Thankfully, many non-league clubs still retain the sentiments and ethos echoed in The Ghosts of Inchmery Road. However, the book is a lesson to those who run our game, the owners, the administrators, the broadcasters –  they are merely custodians for the next generation and they need to respect all levels of the game and its history and tradition. After all football didn’t begin in 1992.

(Publisher: 1889 Books. October 2023. Paperback: 216 pages)


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Posted May 25, 2024 by admin in category "Reviews

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