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Everton Books:
Everton - The School of Science

The School of Science
James Corbett
, 2003.  
Macmillan; (432 pages)  ISBN: 1405034319 — Hardback

2004 marked the 125th anniversary of Everton Football Club, one of English football's oldest and most successful teams.  The School of Science represents an ambitious and history of the club told by James Corbett, a lifelong Everton fan and the founder of the briefly popular fanzine, Gwladys Sings the Blues.

From Everton's first league match (a 2-1 victory over Accrington) to the glorious championship team of 1938-9; from the relegation of the early Fifties to the dramatic FA Cup victory of 1966; from Dixie Dean to Gary Lineker; from John Moores to David Moyes; Everton's history has been studded with triumph and, as any fan knows only too well, disaster.

Look back, if you can bear it, to the regime of 'Agent' Johnson.  Marvel at the achievements of the team built by Harry Catterick.  Relive the glory of the 1987 season.  Reacquaint yourself with Tommy Lawton, the Wayne Rooney of 1938.  James Corbett's history of the side goes behind the scenes and uncovers the stories of the individuals who made the club, from the boardroom to the boot room.

Written with the enthusiasm and stoicism of a committed Toffeeman, the wit of a fanzine and the authority of a historian, Everton: The School of Science should be the ultimate guide to the team's story.  At over 400 pages, with 175,000 words of dense text, it was quite an achievement for Corbett to get this mammoth work — his first book — published by a major publishing house like Macmillan. 

James wrote the book in 2002 and early 2003 when he was starting out as a journalist.  At the time, he didn’t have an agent or a publisher.  While doing a little freelancing he worked tirelessly for months – unpaid – on the book, taking a chance that someone would recognize his effort and share his enthusiasm and love for the club. 

He got lucky and, after a lot of arm-twisting, persuaded Macmillan to publish it.  That in itself was something of an achievement as major publishing houses don’t generally touch club-specific books with a barge pole (unless its one about Man Utd).  Nothing like it has been written about Everton since the centenary work by John Roberts 25 years ago. Macmillan would probably have found it more profitable to publish a picture book about the Blues with fewer pages and less words.  They usually don't consider ‘serious’ books about football because the perception is that football fans are a bit thick.

In such a Herculean effort, there are likely to be a few errors, be they editorial typographic or factual.  Eagle-eyed readers who devoured Corbett's tome did find the occasional mistake.  For example:

  • During the infamous FA Cup saga against Bolton Wanderers in 1887, James mentions that Everton were thrown out after Bolton lodged a complaint against two professional players: J Weir and R H Smalley.  The FA charge listed seven players: Cassidy, Alec Dick, Goudie, Robert Izatt (poached from Bootle), Murray, Bob Watson and J Weir — Smalley was not among them. [Steve Flanagan]
  • Everton supposedly lost 1:0 at Anfield in the FA Cup in 1988 — the game was actually at Goodison.  [Billy Williams]
  • Corbett claims that Everton raised their admission prices for the Dunfermline Inter-City Fairs Cup clash in October 1962: "many fans had been priced out after ticket prices doubled and in some cases even trebled"
    However, a programme from the game before shows that fans were charged the same affordable admission prices as for league games [Billy Williams]
  • Ludwig Kogl is not Danish, he's German. [Kenny Fogarty]
  • Kevin Moran was not sent off in the first half of the 1985 cup final. [Kenny Fogarty]
  • Nottingham Forest did not come to Goodison Park and hold Everton to a 0-0 draw in 1986.  Everton went to the City Ground and were fortunate to escape with a 0-0 draw, after Neil Webb saw a headed goal disallowed for a marginal offside. [Kenny Fogarty]
  • On page 188 he writes, "From the opening beat of 'Love Me Do' in October 1961..."
    The Beatles single Love Me Do (Parlophone 45R-4949) was actually released on 5 October 1962. [Rab Horvitz]

James Corbett has assured us that these and other minor errors and have been fixed in the paperback version of the book (see below).

Hardback Price: £17.99   Published: 17 October 2003

The School of Science
James Corbett
, 2004.  
Macmillan; (432 pages)  ISBN: 0330420062 — Paperback (2004)

Everton are one of the oldest, most respected and best supported teams in English football.  They are founder members of the Football League and Premiership, nine times League Champions, five times FA Cup winners, and once European Cup Winners Cup winners.  Theirs is one of the most fascinating stories in football encompassing the tales of such luminaries as Jack Sharp, Dixie Dean, Tommy Lawton, Dave Hickson, Alex Young, Brian Labone, Joe Royle, Greame Sharp, Neville Southall, Gary Lineker and Duncan Ferguson, their successes and failures, plus the fans memories and experiences of them. 

To coincide with the 125th Anniversary of the foundation of Everton Football Club, as St Domingo's FC in 1878, ‘The School of Science’ tells the stories of the great and the good involved in Everton’s long and distinguished history.  It sets out to bring back to life many fans memories and add fresh light to times they weren’t around to experience.  It aims to be a comprehensive history of the club, a true record of the club’s long and proud history.

Starting with Everton’s humble beginnings as a church side, it tells of how they developed to become the city’s biggest team and founder members of the Football League.  It tells of the split that led to the formation of their neighbours and great rivals Liverpool, and with it the move to their present home Goodison; of the first Championship win; and when the FA Cup was first brought back to Merseyside in 1906.  Success has always seemed to have been followed by tragedy for Everton, and the book will describe how Everton twice had Championship winning sides broken up by war, in 1915 and 1939.  In-between these dates came Dixie Dean; his 60 goal season; and Dean’s heir, Tommy Lawton, often described as England’s most gifted centre forward.  Crowds in this time regularly topped 60,000 and Everton won the Championship three times in the interwar years.

After the Second World War, they were a club in decline and eventually relegated.  The book describes how this decline was arrested by the emergence of Dave Hickson, and later, greatness was returned in the Sixties by the chairmanship and money of pools magnate John Moores, plus the wily management of Harry Catterick.  Everton’s ‘Golden Era’ was characterised by such legends as Alex Young, Roy Vernon, Ray Wilson and Joe Royle.  Their tales both on and off the pitch are as fascinating today as they were then.

The Seventies were a period of living in Liverpool’s shadow, but The School of Science tells of some of the black humour that made this decade bearable and of many of the characters involved at the time.  Out of seemingly irreversible decline came the successes of the mid-eighties, glory years that many still fantasize about: the dream team of Southall, Ratcliffe, Reid, Steven, Sharp, Gray, Heath et al. 

Uncertainty, then more decline came with the departure of Howard Kendall in 1987, and later managers failed to live up to his success.  His latest successor, David Moyes, has shown signs that the good times may not be too far away and The School of Science concludes with an assessment of his prospects. 

Essentially a narrative history, each chapter focuses loosely on the experiences of an individual involved with the club – be it a fan, a player, or the chairman – and tells the story in the context of that individual.  It is an alternative but more interesting method of telling history and gives the reader a way of relating to the events as they unfold on the page.  The intention is to entertain as much as to inform and provide the definitive record of Everton’s fascinating and extensive past.

Paperback Price: £8.99   Published: 3 September 2004

Reviews (from the Review Centre)

As an Evertonian this book has been a long time coming but the wait was certainly worth it.  From the foreword by our very own Golden Vision, Alex Young, this book is impossible to put down.  The first words of Chapter One encapture what it means to be an Evertonian and go to Goodison to see the mighty Blues.
Seriously, this book is impossible to put down because of the sheer quality of the writing.  It's brilliant to have a book of such quality written about the Blues.
We all know parts of the story but to finally have the complete story written in such a way is brilliant.
This is a MUST for any Evertonian!!!!!  Sheer pleasure.
BUY IT!!!!!

Having spent most of my adult life reading dull sporting picture books this masterpiece describes the life and history of one of the worlds oldest and stylish football clubs.  It is possible to read it in bit size segments or to digest the whole thrilling story from Victorian beginnings to the age of Moyes and Rooney.  Written from the angle of a trained historian with a background in fanzine wit and irreverence, this book lifts the lid off the stories of footballing glories and puts the reader into a fans eye view of Dixie Deans 60th goal and exposes the trauma and decay of the Johnson era.
This book is thought provoking, funny, and most of all , an enjoyable read.  James Corbett has excelled himself.  Everton supporters and football lovers in general should put this on their wish list for Christmas.

I am the uncle of the author so obviously have an interest but as a season ticket holder of 46 years standing really believe this is the authentic account of our beloved Blues from an academic historian as well as 'cradle toffee'.  Our family's support go back to the founding of the club and James has done us great credit in maintaining the tradition.
This account is alive and comes from the 'Soul'.  Would it be beyond Everton to put it in the club shop?

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