One of Matlock Town FC’s biggest backroom supporters has produced a new book detailing the origins of the club as it celebrates its 140th anniversary year.
Lifelong Matlock resident Susan Tomlinson, 71, has spent many years working behind the scenes of the club, where her late husband Mick served as treasurer.
In that time she has accumulated an encyclopaedic knowledge of the club’s development, but the story of how it all began had remained a mystery until relatively recently.
She said: “For many years everyone has wondered exactly when the club was formed. I had a breakthrough when I found a story in the Sheffield Independent about a new team in Matlock in 1878.
“I followed that team through the archives until it began to match up with old photographs we have of the club playing on what is now Hall Leys Park.”
She added: “There have been many ups and downs, but today’s team stems from the one formed in 1878.”
Having uncovered so many pieces of the story, Susan decided to turn it into a book covering the period up to 1918.
She said: “Mick always said that he should sit down and write the history of the club, and never got round to it - so I decided that I would.”
The upshot is a fascinating mix of match reports, statistics and social history, with anecdotes revealing much about life in the town.
Susan said: “The match reports are very well written, and there are lots of stories about the entertainment going on around the games.
“There were some pretty bad seasons in there - especially in terms of finances - and some sad stories about players’ lives and deaths.”
She added: “Some of my favourite details are about the weather. They would play in fog so thick they couldn’t see each other, and one Christmas they played three games in four days in heavy snow.
“There are also stories about referees showing up late on a horse and cart, and men having to carry women through the town when they came out of a dance to find ten feet of flood water.”
The reaction from fans has been so positive that Susan has already started work on a book about later years.
All proceeds from the book will go to the club. It is on sale for £15 at the club shop, online at https://goo.gl/2UzhoZ or by phoning 01629 583866.