The fascinating stories of fifty lost football clubs from around the world, including their history, their successes and their ultimate failures.

Football brings joy to people across the world, and it evokes memories and nostalgia about past glories and events. When a football club folds, these memories and nostalgic moments are often all that is left. Forgotten Football Clubs uncovers these very stories, from clubs founded in the 19th century to others lasting only a few years.

Author Philip O’Rourke interviews fans and experts from the teams’ respective countries to find out why they disappeared and how it happened. Along the way, he analyses their results, what honours they won and casts a spotlight on their key players, managers and any controversies.

Forgotten Football Clubs unearths a diverse range of tales, transporting us from Asia to South America and from Europe to Africa. With such an eclectic mix, these are stories for football fans young and old.

(Publisher: Pitch Publishing Ltd. February 2023. Hardcover: 352 pages)


Buy the book here: Forgotten Football Clubs

Book Review: Shots in the Dark – A Diary of Saturday Dreams and Strange Times by David Kynaston

Within the field of football writing, the diary concept is nothing new, with countless other fans putting pen to paper recording the fortunes of ‘their team’ week-in, week-out, home and away, come what may.

Shots in the Dark – A Diary of Saturday Dreams and Strange Times, looks the part, front cover resplendent in red and blue (Aldershot Town’s colours), with a football added for good measure, back cover featuring an Aldershot rosette replete with a miniature foil replica of the FA Cup, and the cover spine also striped in that way old fashioned football scarfs are with bars of colour. Inside too, the reader is reassured that this is going to be a football diary, as when opening the book, the endsheets mimic a scrapbook with old action images, programme covers, and match tickets adorning the pages.

However, content-wise it is a bit of a different story. In order to understand why, lets consider a number of factors, starting with the author. The book publicity tells us that, “David Kynaston was born in Aldershot in 1951 overlooking the football ground. He was seven and a half years old when he added his first Aldershot Town FC match in the early months of 1959. So began a deep attachment to the game and a lifelong loyalty. He estimates that he has seen his team play close to 500 times.” Again, affirmation to any reader that this is no fair-weather, armchair supporter, with interest only in the Premier League and Champions League. This is a fan who has seen his team spend its years in the lower reaches of the Football League before going bust in 1992, only to see the phoenix club emerging and working its way through the non-league pyramid to claim a place in the Football League in 2008/09 before dropping back into the National League in 2013 once more in financial difficulty.

What the book PR also tells us is about Kynaston’s day job – “A professional historian since 1973, he has written extensively on post-war Britain; on the City of London; on cricket and on the private school question.” So set against this image of a man happy to stand or indeed sit amongst fellow fans in football grounds around the country, is a person of intellect, one with a wider view of the world beyond the ninety-minutes of a Saturday afternoon. And inevitably these two major parts of Kynaston’s character collide in creating Shots in the Dark.

Kynaston may have set out with all good intention in making the 2016/17 season of his beloved Shots (the nickname of Aldershot Town), the focus of the diary, but with his professional historian hat on, this was never going to be feasible given the football season started only a few months after the UK Brexit vote in June 2016 and the USA Presidential elections in November of that year. Indeed, he acknowledges this in one of the opening entries of the diary, dated Tuesday 02 August (2016), “a diary has implicit rules. Mine are that…it is not just about football (how could it be otherwise at this extraordinary political moment?)”. Indeed in a number of instances throughout the diary, the phrase “football orientated” is used, so reinforcing that early entry in August that the book covers more than just musings of the game.

This does though mean that at certain phases of the book the Aldershot story is well and truly pushed into the background, the prime example being the Trump v Clinton race for the White House. As the build-up to the day of the election draws near, more and more of the entries are given over to what will happen and once Trump become President, Kynaston continues in the same vein.

The reality is that any diary is a record of events, experiences, opinions and even predictions (a nod to the diary title – a shot in the dark, i.e. an estimate or guess). Readers will get to know about Kynaston the fan, which has provided a life-time experience following Aldershot and the solidarity and tribalism that it brings – his Saturday Dreams. On the flip-side, there is the diarist, as the liberal thinker, dismayed by the rise of the right and its influence across the globe – in Strange Times. It is not a run-of-the-mill football diary and as the saying goes, never judge a book by its cover.

(Bloomsbury Publishing. August 2020. Hardback 272pp)


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Book Review: To Make a Dream Survive by Graham Brookland

If your single source of information about football in England was SKY you’d be left with the impression that the only competition that existed was the Premier League.

However, the reality is that there is a myriad of other professional clubs playing within the Championship as well as League 1 and 2. Indeed, the football family is further supported through the Conference and the pyramid that is the non-league structure.

All these clubs have a past and a story to tell, yet the majority of these tales of football highs and lows are not known beyond the confines of their respective villages, towns or cities.

Therefore it is left to individuals such as Graham Brookland to record and recount the stories of those teams from outside England’s top flight league.

In To Make a Dream Survive, Brookland treats the reader to the story of his footballing love, the team based in the military town of Aldershot. He started supporting the club back in 1974 when he attended a game on 13 April against Cambridge United, and his support over the forty years since is documented within this book.

However, this book is not simply a season by season account of the games he attended over the years at the Recreation Ground. During Brookland’s time watching The Shots, he has been the Supporters Club Chairman, a Director, the Club Secretary and Head of Media. This is a story of a man who has lived and breathed the club and a unique story at that.

The 383 pages are divided into over ninety short chapters, with the first 74 pages detailing the period up to March 1992 and the subsequent liquidation of Aldershot FC. The remaining (and majority) part of the book focuses on the formation of Aldershot Town FC and its existence up to December 2014. This divide between the old and the new is also visually highlighted with the use of the change in club badge on the chapter headers. In a further nice little touch each chapter features a song title from the period which links to the content of the chapter, and will have readers racking their brains in an attempt to recall the name of the bands who recorded the songs!

This is a very personal story in that the journey is as much about the author as the club. So at the start of the book, the reader is introduced to the young boisterous and vociferous Brookland who is not afraid to express his opinions about those in charge of his beloved club and follows him through numerous roles of responsibility at Aldershot, including that of co-founder of Aldershot Town FC. Brookland’s passion for the club is evident in every page and even in the periods when he holds official positions at the club he continues to be forthright in his views. Nevertheless, he is able to reflect on the times of turmoil at the club and for the most part ensures that past grievances are resolved.

Yes this is one man’s unique and passionate story about his connection to his club, yes it is story of Aldershot FC’s demise and the rise of the phoenix from the ashes as Aldershot Town FC, but it is also an acknowledgment and tribute to all those that have contributed to the club being in existence today.

If there is a minor criticism, and it is one that can often befall self-published books, it is in relation to proof-reading. However, it is not a cheap business getting a book published and therefore the extra cost of proof-reading is not always an option that can be taken up.

However, this really doesn’t detract from a book which openly and honestly tells the reality of life for clubs in the lower leagues and gives hope that however far a club might fall, there are people willing to keep it alive so that future generations can have a footballing dream.


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