Interview with Barry Hoggarth, author of the Cumberland Senior Cup 1886 to 2019.

Ahead of the review of this book about the Cumberland Senior Cup, Football Book Reviews caught up with its writer, Barry Hoggarth to get the lowdown on his football background and a bit about the book itself.

Football Book Reviews (FBR): How did you first get interested in football and what was your first football memory?

Barry Hoggarth (BH): My first football memory is of my dad collecting the ESSO coins that you got when buying petrol back then. The collection was made up of the England squad that took part in the 1970 World Cup Finals in Mexico. In terms of my first actual memory of a game that was the 1971 FA Cup final at the ‘old’ Wembley between Arsenal and Liverpool, when the London club won 2-1 in extra-time.

FBR: Do you support or watch a team regularly?

BH: It’s difficult to watch anyone regularly due to the geographic isolation, however, I do support Liverpool, as do my two lads. We try to get down when we can, but the reality is that with work commitments and ticket availability it’s difficult to get to see many games.

FBR: What was the inspiration for writing this book?

BH: I’m extremely interested in the history of West Cumberland and collect local postcards, pictures etc about the area and these have provided the basis for many of the pictures contained in the book. Another prompt came when someone at work gave me a list of all the winners of the various cups under the jurisdiction of the Cumberland FA (which turned out to be incorrect), but to my surprise my own village had three different winners of the Cumberland Cup. When I mentioned at work about writing a book on the history of the competition I basically got laughed at, however, here we are 10 years later with the book.

FBR: What was the most surprising or difficult aspect in compiling this book?

BH: I often visit the local archives in Whitehaven and the research started there and initially things were quite straightforward. However, as I got into the 1950s things began to dry up. The local weekly newspaper, the Whitehaven News started to stop reporting on the cup games if the teams in the west of the county had been eliminated, the balance of power had undoubtedly moved from the west to the north and east. I therefore had to make numerous visits to Carlisle (an 80 miles round trip) to finish the book. Unbelievably, the last season to be found was 1996/97.

FBR: From the book what is your favourite cup win and why?

BH: My favourite wins are undoubtedly the three triumphs for the Frizington teams in 1902, 1920 and 1926 given that is my home, but in terms of shock and surprise nothing beats the Bigrigg win over Carlisle United in 1915. It is without doubt a proper David v Goliath story, as Bigrigg is a village just north of Egremont with a tiny population, whilst Carlisle is a City with thousands of people and at the time Carlisle United, were playing in a particularly strong North Eastern League.

FBR: What do you think the future of grassroots football and Senior County Cup’s is?

BH: At grassroots level in Cumbria, teams are falling by the wayside left, right and centre. My own village has fantastic facilities, a superb pitch, its own clubhouse, but we don’t even have a team at junior or senior level, all this in a village with over 3,000 residents. The local Sunday League (Seniors) had three divisions when I played in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, but it’s down to one now.

Kids football, especially in West Cumbria is huge, loads of teams, but when the kids get to 18 only the good ones continue and play senior football because there’s nowhere for them to play.

Despite the decline in grassroots football, the Cumberland Cup remains relatively strong, with entries around the 32 mark for a while now. However, as no doubt with Senior County Cups around the country, the senior clubs (up here, Carlisle United and Workington), generally use the competition to field reserves and academy youngsters. Nevertheless, the smaller clubs who enter love to get one over on the so called ‘big guns’.

FBR: How can people buy your book?

BH: The book can be bought directly from me priced at £15 including postage and packing, contact details are:

Mobile – 07791956711

Email –

Twitter – @hoggy082

Facebook / messenger – Barry Hoggarth

Also available on eBay (search Cumberland Senior Cup) priced at £16.

Interview with Ralph Robb, author of, More Than a Game: A Story About Football and other stuff.

Originally published in 2006 through Raldon Books, More Than a Game, A Story About Football and other stuff, is a novel which has been recently released on Kindle.

Set in the early 80s after Aston Villa had won the English First Division title, the story centres on Sabina Park Rangers an amateur team of black players who are the first to reach the final of the Watney’s Challenge Cup. Their coach Horace McIntosh has more selection problems than most, with Villa, the First Division champions wanting to sign one of his best players, and right up until the day of the match, uncertainty about whether he will have a team for the biggest game in the club’s history, set against a background of arrests, a scam and an atmosphere of impending violence.

Author Ralph Robb who grew up in Wolverhampton, but now lives in Canada answered a few questions about his book and its new release some thirteen years later. (FBR): What was the inspiration for writing the novel? 

Ralph Robb (RR): As a teenager I belonged to a karate club that took on the name of the organization in which we practiced – Wolverhampton YMCA. The same vicinity served as a club house for an all-black football team, to which several members of the karate team also belonged.

Many of their experiences were casually shared between members of the club, this painting a tapestry of characters and events both uplifting and heart wrenching. It is from these stories that the inspiration for the book evolved.

FBR: You were raised in Wolverhampton; did you watch Wolves growing up? 

RR: I’ve never gone to watch the Wolves play! Like most kids I played football excessively, whether it was for the school team, in the local park or just heading the ball against a wall. I had a few friends that occasionally went to see Wolves play on the weekend, usually with an older brother, father or uncle. My family wasn’t particularly well off, so I had to settle for hearing the results on ITV’s World of Sport or BBC’s Grandstand programmes. The fact that I couldn’t afford it was only part of the reason I attend. I remember being chased by visiting fans, looking for trouble. So, I learnt very early to avoid the unpredictable nature of football fans. 

With the lessons learnt as a kid, visiting the Wolves ground, Molineux, as a young man was still off the table. The Molineux was such a magnet for hooliganism I daren’t go. It was exclusively white, working class and intolerable towards most minorities in which women were included. I knew a few black teens, older than myself, that would go as a group for protection, but that didn’t last long as the racial abuse for the few black players on the pitch became too much for them.

FBR: How much of the book is biographical? 

RR: The book was written as a piece of fiction, but I’d like to think of it as also being realistic, in terms of ‘that could happen’ or ‘I’ve experienced the same thing’.

FBR: What resonance do you think the book has currently bearing in mind the recent racist incidents at two England games and the abandonment of the FA Cup tie involving Yeovil Town?

RR: The tribalistic nature of the fans is a strange beast. I find it a little patronizing that we find the behaviour of the Bulgarian fans so offensive, which it is; however, at the same time neglecting the fact that the same behaviour was tolerated in England for many years.

FBR: Did you ever consider an alternative ending for the book?

RR: I wanted the ending of the book to be as realistic as possible. With any competitive team sport, the stars have to be in perfect alignment in order to obtain the desired result. With Sabina Park Rangers, they had so much going against going into the final.

FBR: Do you follow football over in Canada at all? 

RR: Every now and again I like to check in to how Wolves are doing. I do however follow the international games in which England are playing.

FBR: Is there a possibility of a second book featuring Sabina Park Rangers?

RR: Sorry, there’s no plan for any sort of a follow up.

FBR: Many thanks for your time Ralph.

For more information about the author:



Twitter: www.

Five-a-side. Quick fire questions with Texi Smith – October 2019

Football Book Reviews (FBR) caught up with the writer of two football novels, Introducing Jarrod Black and Jarrod Black – Hospital Pass to get a bit of background on the author, Texi Smith.

1. FBR: Where does your love of football come from?

Texi Smith (TS): Despite coming from a town where there was no organised sport until under 9s, I was always surrounded by football. We played every night after school with the kids in the street, down the park or with a tennis ball in the street.

2. FBR: What team do you support?

TS: I’m a Newcastle United supporter first and foremost. After twenty years in Australia, I’m also a Sydney FC fan – it is common knowledge that Sydney is Sky Blue. That’s where I get my live football fix.

3. FBR: How did you get into writing?

TS: I was match reporter for the football team at University, then for teams I played in and coached. Additionally, I did a stint as newsletter editor for the local club here in Australia, which gave me an audience, and then made the progression to novels.

4. FBR: In your first novel, ‘Introducing Jarrod Black’, its setting is the North East of England, do you have connections to the area?

TS: Yes, I was born in Ashington (like Newcastle United legend, Jackie Milburn and the Charlton brothers, Bobby and Jack), and lived in Morpeth.

As a result, I followed the Toon around the country. All my immediate family all still live in the area, I left England when I was 18 – a reverse journey to Jarrod Black in the first book.

I get back once every couple of years, craftily timed to be when there’s a game on!

5. FBR: Both of your novels have “An Unashamed Football Novel” in the title. What’s behind that?

I guess it’s a tip of the hat to fellow novel writers who choose to write about what they love.

Also, if someone chooses to read one of these books, I don’t want them to say “…it’s just all about football.” – let’s call it a warning message before the reader makes that choice! Like the warning message on a packet of cigarettes.

For further information on Texi Smith, visit

Steven Bell interview: Wednesday 04 September 2019

Football Book Reviews caught up with Steven Bell the author of From Triumph to Tragedy: The Chapecoense Story (Pitch Publishing) to talk about his recently published book.

Football Book Reviews (FBR): Your day job is as an engineer, but what is your football background and how did that lead to you writing ‘From Triumph to Tragedy’?

Steven Bell (SB): My background – well firstly as a poor amateur player! But a huge football fan who grew up in the 90s and became besotted with Sir Alex Ferguson’s Class of 92. It was then Euro ’96 which swung me towards supporting England really rather than a club side at that stage if I’m honest. That subsequently  led me to becoming obsessed with the World Cup in particular and the whole colour, fans, passion and spectacle of the tournament.

My first real World Cup experience was watching Brazil win it in 1994, and when they were hosts in 2014, I knew I just had to go. Going there I made a lot of contacts and started following Brazilian football. The group I was with stayed in Rio for six weeks, next to the old training ground of Flamengo and I sort of adopted them as my Brazilian team and began following their results. When I was back in the UK the first result I looked at was one that was a huge upset, when Flamengo, the biggest team in Brazil, were beaten by a team I’d never heard of called Chapecoense. That was at the back end of 2014, and after doing a bit of digging discovered that they were a team that over the last few years had come from nothing – non league, on the verge of going out of business – to the top division in Brazil. It connected with me as a fantastic sporting story, with a couple of individuals, like the goalkeeper Danilo and star striker Bruno Rangel, with incredible individual journeys, overcoming poverty and making it to the top at the back end of their careers.

Fast forward two years to November 2016, and I woke up to an alert on my phone from all the news outlets that the team had been involved in a tragic plane crash on their way to what would have been their biggest match in the club’s history. I got hooked on the story from there and decided to research it for the book.

FBR: So, does the book trace that story from 2014?

SB: It actually goes back to my love and passion for both Brazilian football and the World Cup with Brazil winning it in 1994 and how that team inspired change in tactics and culture towards football in the country. It was an influence on Chapecoense and their style of play, they didn’t mind being the underdog, they didn’t mind that other clubs had better individual players – Chape could defend and dig in, scrapping and battling to get results.

So, in terms of this book, the story of Chapecoense starts in earnest in 2006, when they were a non league team, pretty much part-time, basically a team and a club falling to pieces. However, the local businessmen didn’t want to be part of a city without a football team, so they got together and put in place a financial package which rescued the club from oblivion. In addition, they brought in a decent manager and created a sound infrastructure, and gradually the team went from strength to strength, which saw them eight years later make it to Brazil’s top division, Serie A, before tragedy struck when travelling to play the First-leg of the 2016 Copa Sudamericana Final against Atletico Nacional.

FBR: The book obviously takes the reader through to the tragic events of the 26 November 2016, but presume the story doesn’t stop there?

SB: In the timeline of the book, the crash is probably about three quarters of the way through and then there is a section on the how, why, and aftermath for the club, players, families, community and indeed Brazilian football as a whole. The book actually concludes with a reflection on the 2018 World Cup, which finished around the same time as I was completing the manuscript for From Triumph to Tragedy. As someone who has followed Brazilian football it was interesting to note the reaction to the teams defeat to Belgium in the Quarter-Finals, it was more reflective and a realisation that there is more to life than football, which I believe is a result of the Chapecoense disaster.

FBR: This seems then to be a significant change to the reaction in the wake of the 2014 World Cup Semi-Final mauling 7-1 by Germany.

SB: It’s funny you should mention that game, as I was watching it in Rio and it was a day I remember, with torrential rain all day. At the whistle, there were tears and tantrums, it felt like a national tragedy and was a surreal place to be on that day. For many Brazilians it felt like the world had come to an end. Compare that to four years later, when they valiantly lost to Belgium, when Brazil were the better team in the match, the reaction was completely different, and I genuinely believe that was influenced by the Chapecoense tragedy.

FBR: It is interesting that you talk about a change in fan perception and culture of football in Brazil arising from the crash. Does this book also show a different side and a change to Brazilian football in other ways, as many older football fans and perhaps historically, Brazil have been considered to have essentially one style of football?

SB: It is very much why I started the book at the point of the 1994 World Cup in the USA. Carlos Alberto Gomes Parreira was the Brazilian manager at the time and the style of play he brought in was very unpopular with the media and fans in Brazil who were used to free-flowing football. However, he didn’t have the players to continue that tradition, and he recognised that, so his squad were taught a more pragmatic style that was being used and working for European teams. Italy had been particularly successful with that approach over the previous decade or so, with the irony that Brazil beat the Italians at their own game in the ’94 Final on penalties. It did teach the Brazilian country nationwide that there was another way to play, what Pele had described as, the beautiful game.

FBR: With the recent events at Bury and Bolton Wanderers, does this book have a story to tell for those clubs and their fans at all?

SB: I think it does. Chapecoense were one meeting away from going out of business. Other clubs down the years have proved that there is life after the most trying circumstances. It’s funny what difference a decade can make. Chape in 2006 were on their knees and yet ten years later were taking part in the finals of an international tournament they could only have dreamed of previously. Who knows what lies ahead for Bury and Bolton ten years from now.

FBR: Finally, do you still follow the game closely in Brazil?

SB: Writing this book has been a big part of my life and I’ll always have that interest in the game in Brazil. As I said earlier I was caught up in the furore of the Class of ’92, so I will always say Manchester United were my first team, but having moved to Huddersfield, the Terriers are a passionate club – I live within walking distance of the ground – I can’t help but be caught up in the club. They aren’t doing very well at the minute, and the title of my book, From Triumph to Tragedy, could equally apply to Huddersfield Town at the minute! However, I’m sure they will soon be on the up.

FBR: Steven, many thanks for your time and good luck with what sounds like a fascinating story.


Saturday 28 September 2019 – Steven will be talking about From Triumph to Tragedy prior to the Huddersfield Town v Millwall fixture in the White Rose Club Lounge in the main stand at the John Smith’s Stadium.

Saturday 05 October 2019 – Book signing at Huddersfield Waterstones (11:00 – 15:00)

Interview with Adam Priestley (Farsley AFC and Gibraltan International)

Adam Priestley with the FA Cup © Lisa Cox

footballbookreviews (FBR): What were you like at school? Were you academic, sporting or both?

Adam Priestley (AP): I was never the most academic at school, but I never failed in class. I would say I was the ‘middle of the road’ academically. I was always really sporting. I would take part in any sporting activity I could. I think my PE teachers probably got sick of me knocking on the door asking when the next fixture for my year group was.

FBR: Did you play up front in your academy stints at York City and Leeds United?

AP: When I was at Leeds I was a midfielder, but I was so young I don’t think I really had a set position I just played wherever I was told to play. When I was at York I was a striker – very raw though, due to not having much coaching throughout my career at the age of 13.

FBR: What are your memories of playing for Sherburn White Rose?

AP: All my memories of playing with Sherburn are great memories. I still visit the club now all the time as a lot of my close friends still play for them. If I sat here and talked about all my memories we could be here an awfully long time. I only have good things to say about the club and I hope to see them succeed on all levels.

FBR: How did the move to Garforth Town come about?

AP: The move to Garforth came on the back of a really successful season for me at Sherburn. I had scored 44 goals in 42 games in all competitions and I felt it was the right time to leave Sherburn and look for a fresh challenge playing higher up the footballing pyramid. I spoke to a few clubs and they invited me down to train with them on trial. Garforth held an open trial day in Leeds which I attended and was invited back to train with the first team squad for preseason. Then after doing the whole of preseason with them the manager said he wanted to talk to me and asked me to sign and it went from there really.

FBR: What were your highlights from your time there?

AP: My own personal highlight would be scoring the goal that secured the last play-off spot on the final day of the 2011-12 season. Unfortunately we were beaten on penalties in the semi-final.

FBR: The 2011/12 season at Garforth was a terrific one for the club, but ended with that loss in the play-offs and the summer seeing turmoil at the club off the pitch. Were the players aware at any stage during that season that something was amiss?

AP: At no point did I have any idea anything was wrong off the pitch. As far as I am aware nor did any of the others players and if they did then they kept it hidden well and they shouldn’t have kept it from the other players. It was a shame really, because we had such a good side down there that had the potential to achieve a lot, but these things happen in football and you have to look forward and look for new challenges.

FBR: What is your view of artificial pitches bearing in mind the knee injury you suffered whilst at Garforth?

AP: I don’t mind artificial pitches. I think if it means less games being cancelled then they’re good for the game. In terms of injuries I feel that you’re just as likely to get injured playing on grass as you are on artificial pitches. People will have different views to myself I know that, but if you get injured in an unfortunate event that could happen anytime. I prefer playing on grass but I’m certainly not against artificial pitches being used.

FBR: How did the move to Farsley AFC come about?

AP: One of the players I played at Garforth with had moved to Farsley and when he learnt about the happenings at Garforth he contacted me. He said he was going to speak to the manager at Farsley as he was aware they were looking for a striker, so he would let them know I was interested in a move. From there I spoke to the manager and assistant manager and I chose to move there over other clubs that were interested.

FBR: 2012/13 was an incredibly successful season for you; did you consider staying at Farsley for the following season?

AP: Leaving Farsley never crossed my mind really. There had been interest from clubs higher up during the season and I chose to stay at Farsley because I was enjoying my football there. Then when the season had finished I got calls from two teams in the Conference and it was too good to turn down the chance to go on trial at those clubs. So I spoke to Farsley and told them about the interest and they said they wouldn’t tell me to turn down a great opportunity, but they would have to look for other players to replace me in case I didn’t return. Things didn’t work out on those trials and then I went to Guiseley AFC on trial and the manager told me he wanted to sign me so I signed. I didn’t expect to leave Farsley, but due to offers from clubs higher up I chose to leave as I wanted to progress in my career.

FBR: How do you reflect on your time at Guiseley? Was it a case of ‘wrong place, wrong time’?

AP: You could say it was ‘wrong place wrong time’ with the manager being under a lot of pressure to achieve similar to what he had done previously. However, I also know that in my time there I didn’t perform up to the standard needed and the standards I expected of myself. For the manager to get sacked after six games made things tougher, because it meant a new manager who will have wanted to bring in his own players.

FBR: Do you have any regrets about moving there?

AP: I wouldn’t say I regret going to Guiseley, because I feel I learnt a lot about football and a lot about myself in my short time there. Nevertheless you have to live with the decisions you make and for me it turned out to be a bad decision that I had to learn from.

FBR: Was it an easy decision to return to Farsley?

AP: After speaking to the new manager at Guiseley he told me I was in his plans, but he could guarantee me sufficient game time so I told him I would like to leave the club. He told me that he could help me find a club if I wanted his help, but I knew that the only place I wanted to go was back to Farsley so I made the call to find myself a club. I spoke to the manager and assistant manager and within no time at all I was a Farsley player again. I had calls from other clubs higher up, but I knew where I wanted to be.

FBR: What was it like getting the call-up and then representing Gibraltar? Has this feeling altered as you’ve played in subsequent games?

AP: Any game for your country is a massive occasion. I feel so honoured to have been selected for all the squads so far and if I am selected for any in the future this feeling will not change. It is a feeling that is hard to describe really because it’s such a big thing for me but it’s a feeling that I would never change and I hope it can continue.

FBR: If selected for the Germany game, will this have a different feel to it?

AP: It’s hard to say really until you get there and start training and get on the pitch. Obviously it’s not every day you get to play the world champions, but we need to see it as another game for our country in which we need to go out and make our country proud like we do every time we play.

FBR: You said you ‘need to see it as just another game’, but is that possible knowing who the opponents are and that there will a huge television audience and associated media attention?

AP: Personally I don’t think about the media attention on the game. We’re all there to do a job which is to play football. Whether it is against the world champions or other minnows we need to make we take it as another game and do our job rather than focus on the less important things.

FBR: In your quieter moments during the day does your mind wander to think about that game – do you have a ‘Roy of the Rovers’ moment when you think about scoring against the world champions?

AP: Thinking about scoring against the world champions seems crazy, but if selected then it’s something that could potentially happen, but right now it’s not something I think about

FBR: Do you know if any Farsley AFC fans will make the trip to Germany?

AP: It would be nice if some fans could make the trip to the Germany game, but we know no matter what they will do us proud and make some noise for us.

FBR: Will your family and friends make the trip?

AP: I don’t think any of my family will make the trips,but there are a few friends who may make the trip if I get selected. They came to Ireland and hope to make as many games as possible.

FBR: Do you get nervous playing before games (club or international)?

AP: I don’t really get nervous before football games at all. Occasionally I might get butterflies on the way to a big game but that goes right away once the warm up begins

FBR: Do you think you’ll be nervous on the night of the Germany game?

AP: As said before I doubt I’ll be nervous the night before the Germany game, but in the coach to the stadium there might be some butterflies, but as soon as the warm up starts the focus is on the game and the job at hand and nerves quickly go

FBR: Do you have any pre-match rituals/habits that you follow?

AP: Pre-match rituals I have are to put my left things on first. So my left sock then my right – followed by my left boot then right boot and then left shin pad before my right shin pad. Other than that nothing.

FBR: Do you prepare any differently for internationals – i.e. your dietary regime or mental preparation?

AP: When away with Gibraltar we have our nutritionist who sorts all the team meals out so my diet is slightly different but other than that I’ll prepare for the games in the same way.

FBR: Who would you swap shirts with against Germany?

AP: I will swap with any German player as they are all great players but any of the world cup winners will be good.

FBR: Has playing international football brought greater pressure playing at Farsley?

AP: I don’t think that it’s brought any greater pressure, but I know that my club will always demand the best from me and they know what I can do. So if I am underperforming then they will drop me like any other player. That’s how it has to be.

I don’t put any extra pressure on myself because I don’t believe in putting pressure on myself. I do demand the best from myself at all times though but that hasn’t changed from a young age with me as I’ve always strived to achieve the best I possibly can.

FBR: How do you think opponents view you now you are an international?

AP: I don’t know if opponents take me any differently because of me playing for Gibraltar.

FBR: From Allen Bula (Gibraltar national manager) and the squad’s perspective, what is the target for Gibraltar in the qualifiers?

AP: We’re not here just to make the numbers up. We’re in this to compete as much as we can. The group is hugely difficult though, but we have to take one game at a time and see how well we can do and hopefully we can get some positive results.

FBR: What is your personal goal for the qualifiers?

AP: Personally if I can get into as many squads as possible throughout the campaign and then hopefully get as much game time as possible I would be happy. It would also be nice to get a goal or two.

FBR: Have you watched club football in Gibraltar? What is the standard like?

AP: I haven’t watched any of the league games in Gibraltar, but obviously I’ve played with a lot of players that play in the league there in the national team, so I know the standard is good and that there are a lot of good players.

FBR: Would you consider playing in Gibraltar?

AP: I would never rule out playing in Gibraltar or anywhere abroad. It would be difficult though as I have a good job and enjoy what I do, so to leave it all would be a big decision, but as I said I would never rule it out if I felt it was the right decision.

FBR: What prompted you to take up teaching?

AP: I always said when I was younger that I wanted to be a teacher if I wasn’t a footballer and then the opportunity came up to work as a Teaching Assistant and I’ve worked my way up from there.

FBR: Can you compare the satisfaction gained in teaching to football?

AP: It’s hard to compare anything to playing for your country right now. The feeling in indescribable. I love teaching and really enjoy my job but it’s hard to compare the two when they are so different.

FBR: How do you manage the commitments of playing and teaching?

AP: I have no choice but to manage them alongside each other and it’s what I’ve become used to really, so it’s just the norm for me to manage my life that’s a little bit of a rollercoaster.

FBR: What’s your routine when teaching at Morley and playing for Farsley?

AP: As I said before you learn to get into a routine with them all and when you need to fit things in around work and playing football, but it’s what I’m used to now.

FBR: How does this differ when playing for Gibraltar?

AP: When I play for Gibraltar it can be difficult at times, but I keep in contact with people at work to ensure I keep up to date with anything that’s going on and arranging fixtures etc.

FBR: In five years time what is Adam Priestley doing?

AP: Who knows what I’ll be doing. Hopefully I’ll still be involved in the Gibraltar squad and I can make positive strides in my career whether that be stepping into the professional game or whether that be in my profession of teaching, but you never know what might happen in life. Let’s see!