A book about East Stirlingshire

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A book about East Stirlingshire

Post by Ramalhete » Sun Jul 31, 2005 9:27 pm

The Guardian newspaper today featured a series of extracts from a new book called Pointless - A Season with Britain's Worst Football Team by Jeff Connor - telling the story of a season following East Stirlingshire FC. The first two can be found at:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,36 ... 71,00.html

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Post by Scottish » Tue Aug 02, 2005 9:34 pm

I'm afraid I found the title 'Pointless' rather apt. It comes across as an exercise in ego - a case of 'hey, look at me, I followed this crap football side for a year, aren't I a zany, wacky, crazy guy.' The publishers say this will turn 'Shire into a cult team. We've seen this before in Scottish football with the Norwegian Stenhousemuir supporters and the Folkestone Meadowbank fan club.

Those guys did it the right way by having a laugh and contributing to the club at the same time. Mr Connor (a rugby writer, so probably not used to crowds as big as East Stirling's) is just having a cheap shot at a sitting target. And he can't even get his facts right.

This is what I sent to The Guardian by way of response

If the rest of this book is riddled with basic errors along the lines of those in the extract on your site, then it's not going to be worth bothering with. Jeff Connor writes "I had done my homework." I sincerely doubt this. Anyone who thinks Scottish Third Division clubs play 32 league games in a season needs to go back to school.

And who are " Glasgow's defunct Abercorn Rovers?" Could they be related to Paisley's defunct Abercorn FC? Then there's all this nonsense about this mythical team losing " 24 straight games in the season of 1897." The Paisley team certainly finished bottom of the Scottish First Division in 1896-97 but lost no more than eight games in succession. Then again the league programme consisted of only eighteen games in any case. As for the "season of 1897", any genuine football supporter knows a seasons consists of parts of two calendar years.

Their victory over Elgin ended a run of 24 consecutive defeats - as many as the non-existent and never-existed 'Abercorn Rovers' - not 23, so even if Mr Connor HAD been right about that, he'd have been wrong about East Stirling avoiding the same fate.

Connor tells us that "Second Division Berwick Rangers" arrived for the first home game proper without explaining why a side from a higher division should be appearing at Firs Park (it was a Scottish League Challenge Cup tie).

There's his unfamiliarity with club nicknames as in "the Blue Toon, as Peterhead are mysteriously known." There's nothing mysterious about it as anyone prepared to spend about thirty seconds googling would be aware (explanation here: http://www.peterhead.org.uk/familyheritage/gallery.htm).

Connor also amuses with his description of Stenhousemuir becoming derby opponents for 'Shire because Falkirk "had moved on to higher things." They have indeed - about 100 years ago. Since then the two teams have spent just twelve seasons in the same division - the last time being back in 1981-82.

Connor says "True, we had managed a mind-boggling draw at second-to-bottom Albion Rovers, a result that ended a run of 11 successive defeats." It was actually seven, nine if you include knockout tournaments, but certainly not eleven.

Oh, and the blurb from the publishers might need changing, should Sir Alex ever find out he's labelled as a failure during his time as 'Shire boss.

Connor's extract ends by saying 'Shire boss Dennis Newall "was not amused." Neither will Fergie be. Neither was I. There's ample material out there for anyone wanting to have a pop at Scottish football right now without having to endure this cheap and shabbily-researched drivel.

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Shire book

Post by jeffers » Sat Aug 06, 2005 2:17 pm

Dear Scottish,

Many thanks for your comments about the Shire book. The Guardian version was edited so it may have lost something in translation, so to speak.
If I can answer some of your points: I paid the Shire £2,000 for the season's access and they also receive a share of the royalties so it could be said I am contributing to the club. There was never an intention to fire cheap shots and the book makes it clear that my initial scepticism turned into a love for the club that still exists. The manager Dennis Newall has read the book and I am happy to say we are still good friends!
Some errors in any book are inevitable although the 32 games I mention refer to the games (including various cups and friendlies that I saw).
The full version of the book makes it clear that Berwick Rangers are indeed in the Second Division but also makes it clear that they were at Firs Park for a League Cup tie.

The Blue Toon nickname is also expalined in the full text version.
The 11 successive defeats mentioned including friendlies and all competitions.
Finally, the book is not 'a pop at Scottish Football' as you say, but a tribute to the clubs, players and managements who operate at this level. I certainly ended the season full of admiration for all of them. I am also a Shire fan for life now. That is the book's tenet, if you care to read it.

Best wishes,

Jeff Connor

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Post by bobby s » Sat Aug 06, 2005 3:54 pm

Jeff, did you write Wide eyed and legless or is my brain fried from my chronic alcohol abuse over the years?
It's the Hope I can't stand

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Post by jeffers » Sat Aug 06, 2005 7:03 pm

I did indeed. And I am still wide-eyed and legless.

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Post by Level_Par » Sat Aug 06, 2005 10:31 pm

Great. An argument. Everybody was getting on too well on this board anyway. Good to see a bit of a rumble :twisted:

I'll buy your book and make my own mind up about it but to be honest mate you should have thought twice before writing this
I am also a Shire fan for life now
There aren't many "fans for life" who'll be writing on an internet message board at the same time as their team's playing their first home game of the season :P

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Post by Scottish » Sun Aug 07, 2005 12:17 am

Hi Jeff and welcome to the forum.

I'm sorry if my review caused any offence but sometimes you just have to call things the way you see them. Yes, all books contain errors - as I know to my own cost - and judicious (or injudicious) editing can alter substantially the tone and meaning of a newspaper extract. To that extent I agree with you.

Also, I was unaware at the time of writing of the financial arrangement between yourself and the club. I'm happy to acknowledge that the club will be benefitting by receiving a percentage of royalties and a fixed fee for access.

However, a website which focuses on Scottish football history would be remiss not to bring to the attention of site users errors such as giving Abercorn the wrong name, wrong location and wrong record.

And while it may not be your intention to 'fire cheap shots' I'm afraid that's the way it comes across to this reader at any rate.

Take the page where you outline arriving at Firs Park initially. You say that you have difficulty finding the ground as the Scottish Football League Review for 2001-02 gives you such information as the chairman, record cap and e-mail address etc but neglects to actually give the ground's address.

Now this makes for a fine, humorous account. No doubt about it. Please don't think I'm criticising the quality of your writing. I'm not. But the problem here is that you're being a little economical with the actualite.

The SFL review for 2001-02 not only gives the address of the ground (top left, first column, page 66) it also provides a map and directions to get there (bottom, page 67).

Now while it's perfectly feasible that - to take one example - your description of Falkirk as a town with a population of around 150,000 is simply a typo, it's hard to believe that saying the club's address was omitted from the SFL review is anything other than a highly elastic 'artistic licence' which provides you with the opportunity to amuse your readers.

It also leaves the misleading impression that the SFL Review is incapable of including basic information about its member clubs.

Anyway, I've no great desire to give Level_Par a distraction from HIS team's rank rottenness so I'll leave it at that.

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Re: Shire book

Post by Gersman » Sun Aug 07, 2005 2:02 pm

jeffers wrote:I am also a Shire fan for life now.
Who did you support before? :?
Fifty one and counting

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