Ayr United

The place to recommend books to other Forum users. Or even to warn off.
Post Reply
Scottish
Site Admin
Posts: 7665
Joined: Sat Jun 11, 2005 4:51 pm
Contact:

Ayr United

Post by Scottish » Fri Sep 15, 2006 8:22 am

There's a new Ayr United history - 'Walking Down The Somerset Road' - by Duncan Carmichael coming out next month. Duncan Carmichael previously wrote a two-volume history of Ayr up until 1990. The synopsis on Amazon says "Covering the years from the nineteenth century onwards, this title presents the complete history of Ayr United."

I don't know if this contains a statistical history. The phrase 'complete history' would suggest so but there's no mention of the book on the publishers (Fort Publishing) website.

Scottish
Site Admin
Posts: 7665
Joined: Sat Jun 11, 2005 4:51 pm
Contact:

Post by Scottish » Thu Nov 30, 2006 3:55 pm

This book finally arrived today and is both a good read and also a missed opportunity.

Anyone interested in Ayr United and who hasn’t read Duncan Carmichael’s previous club histories will certainly enjoy it. If, however, you have read or purchased one of the previous volumes then this is largely the same material updated to 2005-06, albeit in a more attractive, reader-friendly format.

The book starts with an introduction to football in Ayr before the merger of Ayr FC and Ayr Parkhouse in 1910 with each subsequent chapter covering a full decade. Each chapter gives a season-by-season account of that decade. The author himself says that his original intention had been to cover a full century of Ayr United and publish in 2010 but that impatience got the better of him so it’s appearing now.

From a statistical point of view it might have been better to have waited and used the intervening period to compile a ‘Rothman’s-style’ set of stats. The lack of any detailed stats is, for me, a great letdown in a book which describes itself as a ‘complete history.’ The only stats which appear in the main body of the book are a summary of the playing record (P W D L F A PTS POS) and the top three league scorers for each season – material which is readily available elsewhere.

To be fair there is an ‘A-Z’ comprising sixteen pages at the back of the book listing interesting statistical material such as managers, top scorers, record wins/losses, club colours etc. And an amusing claim that Scotland have never lost a match in which an Ayr United player has featured. Sounds impressive until you realise we’re talking about seven players with a total of ten caps, none of them gained in the past 30 years and only one in the past 75 years. But all this really doesn’t compensate for the lack of a full statistical account.

As you’d expect, the book focuses heavily on prominent figures in Ayr’s history like Ally McLeod and longest-serving player and appearance record holder John ‘Spud’ Murphy. Despite not having much to shout about for the past 30 years in the League there have been a number of good cup runs including the League Cup Final of 2002 – Ayr United’s first ever appearance in a major Final – and these are given the requisite attention. There’s a sixteen-page photo section including rare pics such as the Ayr FC team of 1885 and an action shot from the Qualifying Cup of 1911. And of course there’s mention of several players who went on to greater things but started off at Somerset Park. Players like John Doyle, Stevie Nicol and Alan McInally for instance.

Some interesting stories emerge from the text. Archie McLean – the Paisley man who did much to popularise football in Brazil – played for Ayr FC for two seasons. Alex ‘Dixie’ Ingram owed his nickname not to ‘Dixie’ Dean but to a dancer on ‘The White Heather Club!’ And there’s a quite ridiculous quote from a local journalist, after a derby match in 1914-15: “The feeling of some Killie enthusiasts towards the United is somewhat akin to that of Germany against Britain.”

Like I say, ridiculous. As a Kilmarnock supporter and a student of football history I can assure you it was much, much worse than that!

I thought the cover could have been better. I'm sure hardcore Ayr fans will be delighted to see a pic of Andy Walker scoring against Killie in the Scottish Cup in 1999 but to me it's a bit petty-minded and will only serve to alienate potential buyers of a Kilmarnock persuasion. Covers of football history books usually try to say something about the subject matter inside. I appreciate a history of Ayr United can't possibly have a cover festooned with trophies but I would have thought an image (or images) more relevant to the volume could have been found. For instance there's a terrific photo inside of Ally McLeod leaping out of the dugout with loads of small boys cheering jubilantly behind him. Or maybe a photo from the 2002 League Cup Final?

There’s a comprehensive index of sixteen pages length which is touted on Amazon as “one of the most detailed in any football book.” But no one buys a book on the strength of its index. If you’re an Ayr fan you’ll want it. If you’re interested in Scottish football history (and if you’re not then you’re on the wrong website) then you’ll be interested in this too. But if you’ve already got the previous history and you’re looking for a full statistical record then you’re better off waiting till 2010 and see what transpires then.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests