Forgotten Football Clubs by Philip O’Rourke – Review
By Karl Hornsey
It can often seem as though the possibility of football clubs disappearing from existence is something of a modern trend, with the stakes being raised ever higher as money continues to flood the sport, and clubs at the lower end of the spectrum struggle to make ends meet. But, as Philip O’Rourke’s book ‘Forgotten Football Clubs’ demonstrates, there has always been that threat and, usually for financial reasons, so many much-loved clubs around the world have simply ceased to be. So much so that the author has squeezed 50 of them into this book, and could quite possibly have kept another 50 up his sleeve for a sequel.
O’Rourke selects clubs from across the globe and across the spectrum of fame, from those that will be relatively well known to ones that, even as someone who takes an interest in the less high-profile side of the sport, I had never even heard of. And that’s how it should be. Many hail from Europe, and the first and last of the clubs are from the author’s native Ireland, with three English clubs making the cut, and there are some fascinating stories to be told. A huge amount of research has gone into the book, and the rise and fall of each of the clubs can sometimes come remarkably quickly, one minute flying high, and the next being unable to fulfil their fixtures and disappearing into obscurity.
The author’s background as a blogger is used to good effect throughout the book, as he presents what are effectively Q&A sections in several of the chapters, interviewing fellow bloggers or those with an interest in some of the more obscure clubs and leagues. This certainly adds an interesting element and some real specialist knowledge to proceedings, but there are a couple of aspects that I think could have made this a better read.
First, some of the chapters get too bogged down in what are essentially quite detailed match reports, rather than providing a deeper historical background to how the clubs developed, and a greater understanding of just why and how it all went wrong for them. For this to have come to the fore, then selecting fewer clubs – maybe 30 instead of 50 – would allow more space for each of them to be given a more detailed story, especially as these are stories really worth telling.
That said, for anyone wanting to delve into the history of all manner of lesser-known ‘forgotten’ clubs from across the world, then this is a good starting point that should pique their interest, and for that the author deserves plenty of credit.
‘Forgotten Football Clubs – Fifty Teams Across the World, Gone But Never Forgotten’ by Philip O’Rourke is published by Pitch Publishing