At the start of the season, I finally completed the collection of all 51 editions of the annual ‘Football Yearbook’.
The first edition came out in 1970 and offered fans over half a million football stats and facts. Rothmans tobacconists sponsored the first edition and did so up to the Yearbook for the 2002/03 season, the 33rd edition of the Yearbook.
In the first edition of the Rothman’s Football Yearbook, there was a list of quotes from people within the game in 1970. One of them was Alan Hardaker, then Secretary of the Football Association who said this of the Yearbook:
‘I look forward to reading the Rothmans Football Yearbook and hope that it will be very successful’
I don’t think Hardaker (or anyone for that matter!) would ever have imagined quite how successful the Yearbook was going to become!
The Editorial Note of that first edition back in 1970 makes interesting reading. It lays out its aim to become the most comprehensive football guide in publication:
‘Association Football has long needed an authoritative and fully comprehensive reference book. So it is particularly pleasing to be able to say with confidence that the Rothmans Football Yearbook answers that need.’
The Yearbook could be found in every football managers office across the country. Statistics-mad football commentator John Motson used the Yearbooks for his research, saying that it was “the basis of my work since 1971” and likened it to ‘the internet between covers’.
The Yearbook has nearly ceased to exist a few times over it’s illustrious half-century existence. The first time was when Rothmans had to pull out from sponsoring the Yearbook in 2003.
Luckily for football enthusiasts the world over, Sky Sports took on the role and remained the sponsors until 2018.
In March 2018, the news came that shocked football enthusiasts everywhere. Sky Sports were going to stop their sponsorship at the end of the 2017/18 season and a new sponsor would need to be found.
It looked for a few weeks that the Yearbook would stop two seasons before the 50th edition. Fans took to Social Media to voice their concerns and plead for someone to step forward and take over from Sky Sports.
Fortunately, The Sun newspaper stepped up and became the sponsors of the Yearbook. John Motson announced his relief that the book would continue:
“I am thrilled to bits to hear this news. It’s been my bible for the past 48 years and I was gutted when I heard it might not be published next season”.
This season marked the 51st edition of the Yearbook. There are 1056 pages that make up the edition and it cost £25. That’s quite a lot compared to the first edition back in 1970 that set readers back 18 shillings!
Despite the internet giving all the information needed within a couple of clicks of a mouse, there is still a demand for the Yearbook. Fans look forward to the time of the season when it is published and with any luck, this will continue for many years to come!