Just in case you have missed my endless ramblings over the past nine months – I have written a book about Arsenal in 1910, called Making the Arsenal. Today the cover and an extract of the book has gone on line, and orders are now being accepted for delivery as soon as copies are printed.
In what follows I interview myself on the subject of the book, and come up with one of the the best conversations I have ever had…
Is it a history book, an Arsenal book, or a novel?
Yes. It is a novel, in which the central character is a Fleet Street journalist who is given the task of covering the financial collapse and liquidation of Woolwich Arsenal in 1910. It is historical in that it is based very firmly in the period, and I believe you will get a good flavour of life 100 years ago. The main events in Britain at the time (the miners’ strikes and riots, the murder of Suffragettes outside parliament, the secret closing of the torpedo factory at Woolwich etc etc) all combine with the events at Woolwich Arsenal FC.
So does it cover Woolwich Arsenal in detail?
Not in terms of the history of every player – it is more about what it was like to be a supporter at the time, and what happened to the club. So you don’t get stuff like, “Alan Bloggs was a no nonsense centre half with a broken nose who scored six goals in his Arsenal career”. Rather it’s about the reasons why Woolwich Arsenal went bust, and how Norris tried to manipulate the situation to his advantage.
Much of this was more dramatic than what happened on the pitch – Norris tried to merge Arsenal and Fulham, and when that failed wanted Arsenal to play home games at Craven Cottage.
And it is also about the dramatic changes at the time – the arrival of the car, the corruption in football, the tied general election, the Earth passing through the tail of Haley’s comet…
Can I read a bit of it?
Oh yes, I think you should. There’s an extract on the web – and more background is published daily on the Making the Arsenal blog (details at the end). There is also more about the story and the times on the shop website (see below).
How can I order it?
Now you are talking my language. The book is published on October 30th – it is now with the printers. You can order on line at http://shop.firstandbest.co.uk – just choose the right region (UK, Europe, rest of the universe).
Why is it £12.99 plus postage?
It’s a big book – bigger in size than your normal paperback, and over 300 pages. So if the last football book you bought was a footballer’s autobiography in large print with double spacing, this is the opposite. The postage charges added in are exactly the price we pay Royal Mail – there is nothing added in for packing or extras. £12.99 is the bookshop price.
Can’t I buy it from Amazon?
Not at the moment, but it will be on there site, as well as Play. But if you have enjoyed anything on UNTOLD ARSENAL over the last couple of years I’d ask you to buy from the shop above. Of course the site is written as a labour of love, but it does cost money to maintain it, and we’ve never asked for donations – so buying the book via the links above would be a nice gesture.
Can I have a signed copy?
You are after my heart! Put the message that you want on the on-line order system and I’ll do it for you. But please – only in English.
I hate on line ordering systems, believing that they are all run by the Evil Empire. Can I phone you?
If you phone 01536 399 011 (that’s a UK number) between 9am and 5pm Monday to Friday, then we’ll take the order. You will need to give a credit card number, expiry date and security code, plus of course your address.
Who done it?
Strangely, there is a real mystery in the whole story, and you find out at the end!
What famous people turn up in the book?
Winston Churchill, who was Home Secretary at the time, Henry Norris who bought the club, the people who actually owned Woolwich Arsenal at the time, George Allison who was a journalist in 1910, and then became the editor of the Arsenal programme, Archie Leitch the architect…
Is this the first novel you have had published Tony?
Well, Tony, I am glad you asked that. Actually no – its the third. The other two were science fiction, so this is a step into another direction. Most of my books however have been non-fiction.
First, because it helps the marketing to bring out a book relating to 100 years ago. Second, because 1910 set up the modern Arsenal. Arsenal were bust, and would have failed had Norris not bought the club. Having failed to move us to Fulham Norris then moved us to Highbury, got us promotion in 1919 to the first division (from which we have never slipped), and brought in Herbert Chapman. That’s what makes 1910, for me, the most important moment in the history of Arsenal.
Is it true that you contribute to the official Arsenal web site?
In a small way yes. There’s a biography of all the players who have ever played for the club, and I’ve been adding a few details on one or two of those who played in 1909 and 1910 – players who I gained information about while writing Making the Arsenal.
It has been a great pleasure talking to you Tony.
And for me Tony. We must do this again, but I see men in white coats approaching so I must exit at speed. Don’t forget you can read more about the book and place an order at http://shop.firstandbest.co.uk – and you can read a whole extract on the web
(c) Tony Attwood 2009
The daily Woolwich Arsenal blog which covers events of 100 years ago is on www.blog.woolwicharsenal.co.uk
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