Mark’s Books

Mark Metcalf has become a prolific writer and has now published more football books about the pre-WW1 era that anyone else. Below are examples of some of his best books and by clicking on the images you will be able to discover more about them and how you can purchase a copy.

 The Origins of the Football League


On Saturday 8 September 1888, League football kicked off. Twelve clubs had combined to play regular fixtures and the result was to revolutionise not only English football but virtually every nation and sport since then. In this book, the history of the Football League season 1888/89 is told in great depth, with reports on every match and profiles of all those who played amateur and professional during this thrilling historic season, in which Preston were ‘invincible’ and set the standards for other great teams to follow. Key players and their skills are highlighted. Doubts about who scored the first-ever League goal are ended. The standard of football, equipment used and the tactics adopted to win matches are all analysed. Controversial incidents that paved the way for the introduction of the goal net and penalty kick are brought back to life. The clubs, their pitches and grounds and the fans that filled them are explored within the economic circumstances and developments of the era. Illustrated with contemporary photographs and newspaper cuttings, this is the story of the 1888/89 Football League season.

‘Transported us back to the world of competitive football in the late 19th century’ – Daily Mail

‘A valuable and timely record of the birth of one of football s most important institutions’ – When Saturday Comes

‘Thanks to the tenacity of Metcalf … Davenport has claimed his place in history’ – BBC Sport

Manchester United

The First Halcyon Years


Manchester United may be world famous today, but back in 1907 the club had yet to win either the League championship or the FA Cup. Things were to change dramatically over the following four seasons, during which time the club moved to Old Trafford under the management of Ernest Mangnall, and captured two League titles, two Charity Shields and a first FA Cup success. But how were these successes achieved? Who were the players that set the Manchester club on a path to greatness? Who were their opponents? Why did Manchester United move to Old Trafford? Find out more in Manchester United 1907 11: The First Halcyon Years, the first in-depth work on this truly great period in the history of Manchester United.

 Charlie Hurley

The Greatest Centre Half the World has Ever Seen


Charlie Hurley was not only a great player, he was one of the characters who illuminated football in the 1950s and ’60s. His story will attract great coverage in the papers as he tells of clashes with another footballing great, Jim Baxter, his disputes with the board at Reading when he became a manager and the uncompromising attitude of players and managers during his playing days. Born in Cork, but raised in Essex from the age of seven months, Charlie started his playing career with Millwall before joining Sunderland in 1957. He was to make 400 appearances before leaving for Bolton Wanderers in 1969. Nicknamed “The King”, Charlie made forty appearances for the Republic of Ireland and but for injuries early on at Millwall would have made many more. Fans of both Millwall and Sunderland chose him as their greatest ever player. On his 70th birthday in October 2007, Sunderland renamed the Chairman’s Suite in his honour and the chairman Niall Quinn, also from the Republic, said: “Charlie Hurley still has such an influence on this football club it’s incredible. The hold he has over the region and its football is immense and it’s getting stronger as he gets older.”

‘Interwoven into the background of Hurley’s tale is social history from the south-east and north-east of England, as well as Ireland. This gives the book an extra dimension, elevating it above numerous others of its genre which merely recount their subject’s on-pitch glories.’ – Steve Mather, Morning Star.

 All Shook Up

Bury FC’s Amazing Cup Story – FA Cup Winners 1900 & 1903


This is the incredible true story of the Lancashire team who dominated the world’s first cup competition at the beginning of the 20th century. Bury FC, FA Cup winners in 1900 and 1903, won the famous competition before Manchester United were formed and 65 years before Liverpool finally triumphed. Award-winning journalist Mark Metcalf tells the story of how a small town team took on and beat the cream of Edwardian English football and triumphed twice at Crystal Palace. Illustrated with contemporary photographs, newspaper cuttings and memorabilia, this is a reminder of when the FA Cup was the ultimate prize in football and Bury the undisputed kings of The Cup.

 The Golden Boot


In 1888, Englands Football league came into being and ever since a player has been recognised each year for the highest number of goals scored in the league, First Division or Premier League. The first was John Goodall of Preston North End, with 21 goals, the most recent, Didier Drogba, with 29. The Football leagues top scorer was Dixie Dean of Everton, in 1927/28, with an impressive tally of 60 goals.

 In Search of the Double

Sunderland AFC 1912/13 


For most supporters of Sunderland AFC, the history of their club would probably be best represented by the names of the mid 1930s team, particularly Gurney and Carter, undoubted Wearside football legends. The name of Charlie Buchan also looms large even today in the tale of a football club whose history can be cut like a knife. Although Charlie Buchan might still be a revered figure on Wearside, his team mates aren’t and yet the 1912/13 season, which is the subject of this book, produced arguably the fi nest Sunderland team ever to grace the famous red and white striped shirts. It came the closest the club has ever come to winning the double, almost became the first English football club to achieve it in the 20th century, yet the names of Albert Milton, Frank Cuggy, Jackie Mordue and the rest of Sunderland’s league champions and FA Cup finalists that season have long since been cast into the annals of the club’s history. Even the football club’s near talismanic and perhaps finest ever captain Charlie Thomson is seemingly forgotten. The was team guided by Bob Kyle, Sunderland AFC’s longest serving manager, he too also forgotten. This book looks at the matches and the characters that shaped an immensely successful 1912/13 season. Although they were crowned league champions, perhaps an enduring highlight, although it ultimately ended in defeat, was the now legendary FA Cup final which took place at The Crystal Palace in April 1913, before a world record crowd. For the first time in the 20th Century England’s top two football teams contested for the most coveted domestic knockout cup competition in world football and what a tale it tells; an iconic match. Finally, to give the book a social context and a flavour of the times, we have captured the main news stories of the 1912/13 period which includes some momentous incidents such as the sinking of the Titanic; another iconic event.

Lifting the Cup

The Story of Battling Barnsley 1910-12


This is the first detailed account of Barnsley Football Club’s most illustrious and successful period. Between 1910 and 1912 ‘Battling Barnsley’ won their way through to the FA Cup Final, then the most prestigious football tournament in the world, on not one but two occasions and capped things off by beating West Bromwich Albion in the 1912 final replay at Bramall Lane, Sheffield, when Arthur Fairclough ‘lifted the Cup’ for the only time, so far, in the Club’s long history. This centenary celebration brings the 1910-12 era back to life through match reports, and a wealth of photographs (some never seen before) and memorabilia. It also pays tribute to the extraordinary support of thousands of Barnsley fans. Against a background of major social and political change, this book also examines the careers of legendary players such as Dickie Downs, Bob Glendenning, Wilf Bartrop, Tommy Boyle, George Utley, George Lillycrop – and of course the goal-scoring hero of 1912: the great Harry Tufnell.

 Frank Swift

Manchester City and England Legend


Frank Swift was Manchester City’s first goalkeeping legend, winning many honours for the club . This book details those heady times as well as his time at Fleetwood Town in the early 1930’s and Hamilton Academical during the war. Frank Swift is one of the greatest English goalkeeper’s of all time. A First and Second Division, FA Cup and Charity Shield winner with Manchester City, his only League club, he represented his country on 33 occasions between 1941 and 1949. Although often injured, and on many occasions knocked unconscious, Blackpool born Swift was fearless and unmoveable in the City goal, playing all but one of over 200 games from the day of his debut, 25 December 1933, up to the start of World War Two. Swift was a regular between the posts for England, and in 1948 he became the first keeper to captain his country in the professional era. Fans also adored Swift for his sportsmanship, broad smile and constant banter with spectators behind his goal. Ultimately it is a tragic story though as Swift perished at Munich as a reporter for the News of the World. Now in the first biography to be written on him, find out more about the keeper and his exploits.

Total Football

Sunderland AFC 1935 to 1937


This title features a unique period in Sunderland AFC’s history when they were Football League Champions, FA Cup Winners and Charity Shield Winners. It contains unrivalled pictures, some of which haven’t been seen in decades. It also features review coverage in local press and football media; Strong support from Sunderland AFC POS available. ‘Arsenal are now second to Sunderland’ screamed the “Sunday Sun” headline on 7 December 1935. Sunderland AFC were truly at the top of their game, and at the start of a two-year period that would bring them unprecedented success. In 1935/36 the Red and Whites won their sixth English Football League Championship, a feat they have not managed to repeat since. The drama of that historic season is recreated in Total Football through the original contemporary match reports and rare original photographs from the archives of Sunderland supporters. The highs and lows of the League campaign are recalled in detail, including the tragic death of goalkeeper Jimmy Thorpe, to whom the book is dedicated, after a match against Chelsea at Roker Park. Thorpe’s grief-stricken teammates went on to play their hearts out for the rest of the season, eventually hammering Birmingham City 7-2 at St Andrews to capture the League title. In 1936/37 Sunderland lifted the FA Cup at Wembley for the first time in the club’s history after their dramatic progression through the rounds included two replays against an exciting young Wolves side. The Wearsiders also claimed the FA Charity Shield, bringing yet more silverware back to Roker Park. The team’s achievements in 1935-37 prompted legendary Liverpool manager Bill Shankly, who played for Preston North End against Sunderland in the 1937 FA Cup Final, to remark: In many ways the Sunderland team of 1937 played the same brand of Total Football as the great Holland team of the 1970s. Sunderland heroes Raich Carter, perhaps the finest player ever to take the field for the club, and Bobby Gurney, still the club’s highest-ever goalscorer, helped to make the team of 1935-37 the greatest in the land. The story of that remarkable era is told here for the first time, and is sure to inspire a new generation of Sunderland supporters.

 Everton FC

The First Kings of Anfield 


As one of the twelve founding Football League clubs in 1888/89, Everton Football Club has a long, proud history. Having played more top-flight league games than any other English team, the Toffees have won the League Championship nine times – the fourth best record of any team. The first occasion was in the third season of League football, 1890/91 when the Blues became the first club from Liverpool to collect the League Championship trophy from their then base, Anfield. In achieving their success, Everton knocked the winners of the first two championships, the Invincibles of Preston North End, off their throne. But how did they do it? Who were the players in this momentous season, what sort of football did they play and who did they beat? Find out all this and more in Everton FC 1890/91: The First Kings of Anfield.