This page looks at a number of books and publications that may be of use to anyone with an interest in Ilkeston football.
HEMBURY TO HARBOTTLE
Duncan Payne (Author)
Published by Duncan Payne (1996)
For anyone wishing to get an overview of Ilkeston Town Football Club's history look no further than this. The A4 format book covers the first fifty years of the club's history and contains many illustrations and a full statistical record as well as telling the story of the club in great detail within its 186 pages.
I make no apologies for advising people to try and obtain a copy. However, the book has been out of print for several years. Nevertheless copies appear on Ebay and Amazon from time to time and it is possible to loan copies from Ilkeston Library.
The book is not perfect. There are a few errors on the statistical pages which I have rectified on this website. Also, if I was to write the book now, it would be different simply because I have had the good fortune to meet and speak with so many former players since it was published who were able to put their version of events forward.
Imperfections apart readers should find it an entertaining and informative read.
The book was also published in a limited edition hardback format. Only 50 copies were ever produced.
ILKESTON TOWN FOOTBALL CLUB SOUVENIR & HANDBOOK FOR SEASON 1954/55
Published by Ilkeston Town FC (1954)
Other than the match programmes this was the first ever publication devoted to Ilkeston Town FC. Published in 1954 to coincide with Town's third successive Central Alliance triumph this 28 page booklet tells the story of those championship successes, remembers the 1951 FA Cup tie with Rochdale, contains player biographies, and reveals some of the players' most memorable games, complete with illustrations. Proceeds from the sales of the book went directly towards the cost of building the grandstand which was eventually built and opened three years later. For those interested in Ilkeston Town's history it is well worth tracking down and for those who have a copy it is worth considerably more than the shilling it would have set you back in 1954.
ILKESTON TOWN FOOTBALL CLUB OFFICIAL HANDBOOK 1960/61
Published by Express News Services (Publishers) Ltd (1961)
Extremely rare one off pocket sized handbook produced by Ilkeston Town FC during the 1960/61 season. Features a review of the previous six years by the Chairman, Bill Beardall, final league tables from the previous season, fixtures and results of the 1960/61 season up until late January, a team group photo, pen pics, and an interesting and remarkably realistic look to the future. Just 12 pages long it doesn't take hours of your time to read it from cover to cover but it is a worthwhile addition to any collector with an interest in the club.
BILLY FEARN'S ROBINS
Andy Rice (Author)
Published by Andy Rice (2007)
Billy Fearn was Ilkeston Town manager between 1978 and 1980. The author, a useful midfielder, played for an Ilkeston Town team filled with larger than life characters on occasions during that time, although this publication probably proves that Andy is a much better artist than he was a player. His ability to draw humorous caricatures of his colleagues, exaggerating their features to almost absurd levels whilst making them instantly recognisable to those who saw them play, is unquestionable. 28 players - who played the game for the love of it (the club was skint) - and staff, including the author himself, come in for the Rice treatment in this booklet, the cover of which is reminiscent of the match programmes of the era. Its not just the players' physical characteristics in the drawings that are so funny; check out the hairdos and fashions. This is booklet is very hard to obtain and the price is unknown, but it is well worth tracking down, particularly for supporters who remember the 'bad old days' of the late seventies.
THERE OR THEREABOUTS: THE KEITH ALEXANDER STORY
Rob Bradley (Author)
Published by Vertical Editions (2012)
Tributes poured in when Keith Alexander tragically passed away in March 2010. The first black manager in the Football League died in March 2010. He was only 53 years old.
Much respected throughout the football world Keith holds a special place in the hearts of Ilkeston Town supporters from his time as manager at the New Manor Ground between 1996 and 2000. It was a period of unparalleled success for the club as Keith led the team to its highest ever place of third in the Southern League and twice took them to the second round of the FA Cup.
Author Rob Bradley knew Keith better than most. He was chairman at Lincoln City during Keith's reign at Sincil Bank between 2002 and 2005 and became a close friend. As a result we have a book which is full of affection for a man held so dear by so many people. Full of annecdotes and quotes from the great man and those who knew him, the book certainly does him justice. But Ilkeston fans can certainly pick faults with it. Any fan who watched the Robins regularly during Keith's spell in charge will spot several factual errors within the 11 pages devoted to his time at the club. My lack of expert knowledge of the other clubs Keith has been associated with prevents me from proclaiming that these errors are in isolation.
However, the book is a nevertheless wonderful read and it covers Keith's life in great detail whilst capturing the essence of the man perfectly. Only the silly mistakes - and the slightly patronising description of 'little' Ilkeston Town - prevent this book from getting ten out of ten.
Anyone with a passing interest in football will enjoy it. For those who witnessed Keith first hand it is absolutely essential. Over 200 pages long it is great value for money even at the full retail price of £14.99. A fitting tribute indeed.
FROM BO'NESS TO THE BERNABEU: MY STORY
John McGovern (Author)
Published by Vision Sports Publishing (2012)
John McGovern had the unenviable task of stepping into Keith Alexander's shoes when he was appointed as Ilkeston Town manager in November 2000. Unfortunately he was gone before the end of the season, his team playing dour football which some claimed matched McGovern's personality. Unlike McGovern they weren't winners on the pitch.
His autobiography contains just one short paragraph within its 250 pages regarding his time at the New Manor Ground. Clearly his time at the club was as forgettable for him as the football was for the fans.
Yet for all his apparent aloofness as Robins boss I was surprised to find how much I warmed to him in this book. His strong work ethic and honesty are two of the stronger attributes he possesses but he also shows warmth, understanding and humour, which I was not expecting to find.
On the pitch he was a winner even if he wasn't the most popular player on view. Two European Cups, two League titles and numerous other trophies came his way. But even though he did not win over some of his own fans he was regarded so greatly by the finest manager that this country has produced that McGovern was sought after by him wherever he went. Brian Clough was a great admirer and the respect was mutual. And it's McGovern's anecdotes and recollections of Cloughie that lift this book out of mediocrity and make it into an entertaining read. Indeed, you suspect that if McGovern had never met Clough there would never have been a book of this nature because the author would not have had such a long and eventful career otherwise.
So, if you want an insight into his time at the New Manor Ground, you will be disappointed. But if you are interested in reading about McGovern's career as a whole you will quite possibly realise that there is much more to the man than you'd probably realised. Ghost written by Kevin Brennan.
TALKING DOUBLE DUTCH
Paul Holland (Author)
Published by Breedon Books Publishing Company (2009)
To the best of my knowlege, Paul Holland is the only member of the Ilkeston FC set-up to have a book out in print. And, if you wish to read the story about one of football's good guys, and whose career in the game didn't give him the rewards that he should have had, this is the book for you. Football did not treat Ilkeston FC's Academy coach too well, to such a degree that he fell out of love with the game after his ruthless and untimely sacking as Mansfield Town manager when they were relegated from the Football League. Thankfully this book, completely written by Holland himself, allowed him to get everything off his chest and it was then that he was finally able to get back into the sport, via his position at the New Manor Ground.
Although the book covers events prior to his arrival at Ilkeston there are plenty of familiar names connected to the Robins throughout, including a particularly amusing incident involving Chris Timons. As a player Holland was a very talented and hard working box-to-box midfielder or centre-half who was good enough to play alongside David Beckham for England under-21s but whose succession of knee injuries prevented him from playing at the highest level. Fans of Mansfield Town especially, Chesterfield, Sheffield United and Bristol City will take plenty from this book as Holland gives an insight into his time at those particular clubs.
At times wistful, at others very humorous, Holland is generous in his praise of others and comes across as very likeable, honest and modest, but never bitter at how football treated him. Do yourselves a favour and get a copy of this book. It is 192 pages long but the small print size means that it is a much bigger read than what you might expect. Although the book is not now easily found in book stores, there are plenty available online. RRP is £16.99.
KING FOR A DAY
John Tudor (Author)
Published by Limelight Classic Productions Limited (2010)
John Tudor is one of the best known figures in the football world to have come from Ilkeston. Remembered as a striker at Newcastle United during the 1970s where he formed a great partnership with England centre-forward Malcolm MacDonald, Tudor started out in local football, and progressed into League football via a stint at Ilkeston Town in the mid-1960s. Tudor wasn't necessarily the most gifted player of his age playing youth football in Ilkeston, but a fierce determination and strong work ethic made him succeed where others failed. Likewise as an author he isn't a natural writer but he put his heart and soul into this book and it was worth all of his time and effort. It is no football literature classic but is nevertheless an interesting read, one which should be enjoyed by fans of his former clubs. It traces his story from its humble beginnings, to his time as a football-obsessed youngster in Ilkeston, and on to his disappointments at not being taken on at League clubs where he had trials. It continues with his big break at Coventry City, his move to Sheffield United, the glory days at Newcastle and his final years as an injury-stricken pro at Stoke City and in Belgium. The book concludes with the struggles to make ends meet as a publican in the north-east and back in Ilkeston before he was lured back into football as a coach.
Amusing anecdotes throughout the book and an insight into how football clubs were run forty years or so ago keep the reader enlightened. One is left believing - quite rightly - that Tudor was definitely one of football's 'good guys' who never short changed the public. Equally importantly it shows that he is also a devoted family man, grateful for the huge role his wife played in helping him in his career and the sacrifices she made. Anyone interested in Ilkeston Town or indeed local history should consider purchasing this book. The only criticism is that it is only 134 pages long and retails at £10. However, the costs of producing a limited print book for a small publisher are considerable so the price is understandable. Given that Tudor always gave value for money as a player surely we can forgive him.
STEAK... DIANA ROSS: DIARY OF A FOOTBALL NOBODY
David McVay (Author)
Published by The Parrs Wood Press (2003)
When Dave McVay broke into Ilkeston Town's first team in 1972, it was clear that the teenage left-back was destined for bigger things. By the mid 70s McVay was a regular feature in Notts County's first team, and thankfully the young footballer kept a diary of his time at Meadow Lane. 25 years on, McVay - by now a highly accomplished journalist - decided to re-produce his diary (the bits that he considered weren't too personal or self-indulgent, at least) and turn it into a book. The result is a thoughtful, funny, evocative book of a long lost time which will bring back memories for anyone who knew Nottingham back in the seventies, irrespective of whether or not they followed The Magpies. Jimmy Sirrel's Notts County was a team full of larger than life characters, who played hard and partied hard. One can only wonder how much further the team could have gone but for the extraordinary drinking culture. Or was it the same of all clubs back then?
McVay has written several highly acclaimed football books although this is the one to appeal to Ilkeston followers, if only because it reveals an insight into McVay himself unlike his biographical works on the likes of Tommy Lawton and past stars of Forest and County. Sadly, there is no mention of his time at the Manor Ground but readers do get a chance to wonder at the antics of his vastly experienced colleague, the late Bill Brindley, who managed The Robins in the mid 90s. Highly recommended - as is the stage show adapted from the book.
OOH AH STANTONA
Phil Stant (Author)
Published by John Blake (2006)
Phil Stant managed Ilkeston Town between 2003 and 2005 but is best known for his playing days as a striker in the lower divisions of the Football League. Anyone buying this book hoping to get an insight into his time as Ilkeston manager will be disappointed. The book ends with him looking forward to a career in management before he arrived at the New Manor Ground. However, it is a raw, entertaining read, told by the man himself without a ghost writer in sight.
The most captivating part of this autobiography tells of his time with the S.A.S serving in the Falklands War, and this is what sets it apart from most sporting autobiographies. Stant is no great writer but his 'telling it like it was' style actually makes the book more compelling and he is honest and forthright in his approach. Well worth a read, the book is generally available in good book shops.
NO IFS OR BUTTS
Kenny Burns (Author)
Published by Kenny Burns Promotions (2009)
Kenny had a reputation of being a man's man, fond of women, booze and gambling, and who played as hard off the pitch as he played on it. Not one to suffer fools gladly people had to earn his respect.
This book, ghost written by Ray Yeomans of the Nottingham Evening Post, is exactly what you would expect. It tells the story of Kenny's life, warts and all, in an easy if slightly disjointed style, almost as if Kenny was sitting down in the pub recalling it all over a few wee drams, covering his childhood days in Glasgow through to European Cup glory with Nottingham Forest and beyond.
The book suffers from errors in the text where it seems that the proof reader did not do his job, but if you can see beyond that there are some entertaining moments, usually where some misdemeanours are involved. There are a few pages relating to his time at Ilkeston late in his career with the likes of Paul Millership, Carl Francis, Steve Giles, Bill Fossey, Danny Boyes, David Beavon, Vince Duffy, Nigel Gillott, Steve Culley, John Humphreys, Kevin Leame, Shane Guyatt and the Harbottles all getting mentions.
KINGS OF THE RECS
Roger Rann (Author)
Published by James Hawthorn (2007)
Roger Rann was Ilkeston Town's greatest goal scorer of the 1970s. But it was at Arnold FC, his home town club, where he was best known and where his heart truly lay.
His first book, 'King of the Recs', takes a trip down memory lane to focus on the battle for supremacy after the Second World War between Arnold's two leading clubs of the day: Arnold Rovers and Arnold St Marys. He portrays a fascinating story with great detail with quotations from several players of that era.
But this isn't just a book about non League football. What makes Roger's first book such an enjoyable read is his use of painting a picture of society and culture at the time, both nationally and locally, intertwining newsworthy events and social attitudes with what was happening on the pitches.
Truly essential reading for anyone with more than a passing interest in the local non League football scene, with many illustrations and statistics within its close to 200 pages, as is his next outing below.
WHEN MARYS WERE KINGS
Roger Rann (Author)
Published by James Hawthorn (2008)
If you liked the first one you'll love this, as the saying goes. Roger continues on the trail of Arnold football history and takes us into the 1960s following the fortunes of the town's premier club Arnold St Marys.
Roger uses all that was so successful in his first book in this second volume so once again the reader is left fulfilled by the time the story ends in 1963.
Like 'Kings of the Recs', this second volume is in an A4 format but is slightly shorter with 170 pages. However, its quality shines through and is essential reading.
Non League football with a few drops of Social History thrown in for good measure, it deserves to be successful and hopefully it will inspire Roger to continue his great work with further volumes.
PEAKS AND TROUGHS: A SEASON OF DERBYSHIRE FOOTBALL
Paul Hudson (Author)
Published by Castle Heritage Publishing (2004)
Derby Local Studies librarian, Paul Hudson, a self confessed Middlesbrough supporter and a native of Teeside spent his spare time during the 2002/03 season groundhopping around Derbyshire's senior football clubs, including Derby County and Chesterfield, taking in all their delights. The result is this interesting A5 150 page paperback in which he chronologically and lucidly describes the events that unfolded and the colourful characters he met at the 20 matches he attended, as well as offering a brief history of the home team. Naturally he visited the New Manor Ground on one occasion, when The Robins took on and beat Worcester City 3-2. Re-reading the book several years on it is interesting to read about the numerous players connected to Ilkeston Town but who were playing for other clubs at the time such as John Knapper, Ryan Hindley, Liam Walshe, Ross Turner, Christian Moore, Mick Goddard and Mark Hales to name but a few. Overall, it is a good read and makes a worthy purchase but if it one was to be critical the book suffers from its lack of illustrations and occasional factual lapse, the Central Midlands League being described as the Central Midlands Alliance for instance. Also the decision to visit Eton Park, then the home of Staffordshire club Burton Albion, also has to be questioned although, as Paul admits, they may as well have played in Derbyshire given the extraordinary amount of time and space The Brewers were being, and still are, given by the Derby media. The book can still be found in a number of Derbyshire libraries for loan although tracking down a copy to purchase may now be problematic.