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An informative and entertaining read.

Review from Historical Football Kits website

As HFK frequent flyers will know, from time to time I like to review books that cross my desk that are connected to the history of association football, especially if I have made some minor contribution. Today I should like to feature Charles Alcock & the Little Tin Idol, written and published by Ian Chester.

Charles William Alcock was one of the most influential figures in the early history of the game. After leaving Harrow School in 1859 he and his brother, John Forster Alcock, founded London's first football club Forest FC. Charles was the prime mover in the formation of Forest's famous successor, Wanderers FC. He captained the England team in all five matches against a Scotland XI between 1870 and 1872 although these are not recognised as full internationals. He also captained The Wanderers when they won the first ever FA Cup final in 1872. He served on the FA Committee 1866-1870 before being appointed as FA Secretary, a post he held until 1895. In April 1871 Alcock proposed to establish the FA Cup and he was instrumental in organising the first official international match against Scotland in 1872.

Ian Chester follows the early career of Charles and provides an overview of the development of the game including brief histories of the teams that entered the first FA Cup. The second half of the book is devoted to match-by-match reports from the competition itself.

The important thing to say about this book is that it is not a conventional history. As Chester writes in the Foreword, the book "is an attempt to use the historical information of the time to paint a picture of what it was like to play the game at its conception in Victorian society." The known facts form a structure around which the author weaves a more detailed narrative, complete with imagined dialogue.

While this book may not be for the purist historian it is nevertheless an informative and entertaining read.

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