Book Review – The Beautiful History: Football Club Badges Tell the Story of Britain by Martyn Routledge & Elspeth Wills. Illustrations by Adam Forster
In August 2018, Pitch Publishing released The Beautiful Badge: The Stories Behind the Football Club Badge by Martyn Routledge and Elspeth Wills. It is a wonderful book that deserved the plaudits it received and was a worthy winner of the best illustrated book at the 2019 Sports Book Awards. Three years on from that release, the talented duo have come together to produce another cracking football badge related book, The Beautiful History: Football Club Badges Tell the Story of Britain.
The inspiration for the book is as Routledge details, “using football (and football club badges), as the hook to get young people to think about the wider historical context.” As such it combines history and historical events with football to provide an entertaining and educational vehicle. As with their previous collaboration, this isn’t a book featuring solely the big clubs, with non-league clubs from Britain sitting side by side with their most illustrious neighbours. So amongst the pages, readers are treated to the glorious badge of Whitby Town featuring three ammonite fossils, through to that of the 2021/22 Premier League Champions, Manchester City, detailing the city’s links with its canals.
Content wise, it is divided into nine chapters looking at the time span from 330 million years ago, when Britain was part of the super continent, Pangea, through to 1989 and the creation of the World Wide Web. Within each chapter there are various dates highlighted, specific to a particular historical event. These are set over two pages with the first containing some historical text, which in some cases is light and comedic and in others is of a more serious nature, with additionally interest related questions for younger readers which provides a fact (titled Did You Know?), and activity tasks (titled Why Not? and Visit). Accompanying the text are the quite stunning drawings of Adam Forster who has produced illustrations for several football publications. Indeed, the concise yet quality text and illustrations combine with some wonderful graphics to give it a real quality design feel.
These qualities ensure that adults will enjoy this publication, but the overall impression is that it is a book for the younger generation taking into account the activities listed (as detailed above) and the inclusion of pages dedicated to young fans who designed their own badges and the blank template badges available to create and colour in, as well as a quiz and I Spy page. However, whatever your age, delve in and enjoy this feast on the eyes.
(Pitch Publishing Ltd. August 2021. Hardcover: 192 pages)