Tuesday, 12 February 2008

It's all in the details...

As the book comes together, we begin thinking about the flourishes that will enhance Dave's narrative - bits of incidental detail to really accentuate the story of Bromley's season.

Tom and Dave have voiced the idea that every chapter should end with a league table, effectively punctuating each episode, rounding off and reinforcing Bromley's steady rate of decline through goals conceded, games lost and points squandered. Dave is great at conveying this obsession with league tables, as he recounts poring over the sports pages in the local paper, feverishly calculating every single possibility and permutation from the week's matches, dreaming of the best-case scenarios that would enable his team to haul themselves one or two places above their rivals. His hopes, dreams and wide-eyed enthusiasm provide the perfect counterpoint to the stats, to get readers turning the page to be confronted with, in stark black and white, the full league table of the Isthmian League 1969/70 season, scanning down anxiously until they see the name Bromley - perpetually stuck in the bottom three at the foot of the table.

So begins some research, to obtain and compile enough tables for use in the book. Fortunately, Dave's collection of programmes and cuttings has meant that we already have most of the relevant league tables. Of the 38 games Bromley played over the season, only the figures for nine weeks in which the team had played league matches are missing. Off I trot to British Library Newspapers in Colindale, almost at the end of the Northern line, to trawl through local papers in search of those vital statistics. I order up musty, leather-bound volumes for 1969 and 1970 of the Bromley Advertiser and the Bromley & Kentish Times, with some success, but still need to search further afield - papers that covered news and results from Bromley’s fellow Isthmians; Sutton United, Hitchin Town, Dulwich Hamlet, Walthamstow Avenue et al. Rooting through the sports pages is a slow, protracted task, and it’s odd to pick out Dave’s ‘stars’ in the match reports – identifying Bromley players’ names when they appear, and studying the occasional grainy mugshots of ‘Postman’ Pat Brown or Johnny Warman with a strange curiosity. Such is the power of the Bromley Boys that it reels you in, as you become familiar with the Bromley squad and all its attendant injuries and suspensions.

The Newspapers Library closes up for the day, but there are still three tables to get – another trip later this week then, with more local papers to hunt out and look through. Unless, of course, there’s a reader out there in possession of a complete season’s set of league tables for a minor club playing in a lower tier of English football over 35 years ago?

No comments: