Local author tells a fascinating story in new book

The latest book from a football historian and author who lives in Halifax tells the story of one of the game's most colourful pre-war characters.

Tuesday, 23rd August 2016, 11:56 am
Updated Thursday, 25th August 2016, 6:59 pm
Author Mark Metcalf, who lives in Pellon
Author Mark Metcalf, who lives in Pellon

Fred Spiksley spent most of his career at Gainsborough Trinity and Sheffield Wednesday during 20 years as a player between 1886 and 1906, and also played for England.

Pellon resident Mark Metcalf was drafted in to work on his biography by fellow authors Clive and Ralph Nicholson, both of whom are related to Fred.

Mark, 56, has written more than a dozen books on the history of football, including on Sunderland, Everton and former England goalkeeper Frank Swift.

On his latest work, Flying Over An Olive Grove, he said: “It’s a unique piece of work and an incredible story.

“There’s no player from that generation that’s left such a well-documented part of his football career.

“He had a colourful life off the pitch - he acted with Charlie Chaplin, he escaped from a German prisoner of war camp and ran professionally until his late 60s.

“He’s a staggering character.

“He’s the only professional player ever to have played for Corinthians, an amateur side.”

Mark works as a freelance journalist and is the author of football books including Charlie Hurley ‘The Greatest Centre Half the World has Ever Seen’, Manchester United’s First Championship, The FA Cup 50 Years On and Total Football – Sunderland 1935–37.

On his fascination with the history of football, he said: “It was the start of football and it was when the game began to have a formula to it.

“The difficulties that were overcome by that generation - they weren’t well paid, didn’t have good terms and conditions.

“But the game was formed pretty quickly and there are some great characters from that era.

“you get to know them through research and that’s what I enjoy - exploring that time, and it’s a period that is relatively unexplored, but it’s a time when football became football.”

The book will be published next month.