Sproat goes in the book

We’re The Famous Blyth Spartans front cover Blyth Spartans have given their backing to a new book detailing the history of the club and are urging others to get behind the venture, in order for it to be published.

Blyth fan Ken Sproat has chronicled the story of the club from its inception in 1899 up until the end of the famous 2008/09 season, which saw Spartans play host to then-Premier League side Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup Third Round.

And now Ken is appealing for funding through pre-sales of We’re The Famous Blyth Spartans, with the money raised helping towards publishing costs.

After previously writing for the Spartans’ programme and other articles on local Non-League football, Ken – who has watched Blyth for over 40 years – then decided the time was right to compile the club’s first ever complete official history.

He said: “There isn’t an official history book, with the full story in it. So, yeah, it’s about time it was written.”

A lot of work has gone into the book, but Ken didn’t realise just how long the process would take when he began work on it.

He said: “If I knew what was ahead when I started it, I might not have started it.

“It’s taken about seven or eight years all together, (which was) about five years of research.

“I’ve read every Blyth News, every News Post Leader, thousands of match programmes (and) hundreds of books to pull the story together.

“The book is 180,000 words, edited down from a lot more than that. So, it very comprehensive and it’s been a lot of work.

“But it’s been worth it.”

As well as including the complete history of the Croft Park-based club, Ken also took the decision to include a wealth of information on other local clubs within the book.

He said: “I don’t think you can tell the story of Blyth Spartans unless you include: the story of their opponents, the leagues they were in, why the leagues were the way they were etc.

“And again, it’s a story of the other clubs that doesn’t exist either. So, fans of the other North East Non-League clubs – and indeed the historians of Newcastle, Sunderland and Middlesbrough – I think would be interested in the stuff I’ve found as well.

“(For) anyone interested in football – especially North East Non-League football – I think it’s the book for them, I really do. Obviously, there’s a heavy Blyth content – and you’d expect that – but there’s stuff about other teams, which supporters of those clubs will find really interesting.”

And now the book is finished, Ken is hoping to get it published in conjunction with The Supporters’ Club. However, in order for this to happen, advanced funding is needed to get the book into production.

Ken said: “The funding, at the moment, is minimal and we need the money in before we can get the books printed really. We’re looking for people to put their names down for pre-sales and get it in advance.

“There are a couple of spare pages available and I’m hoping that supporters can get their names printed into the book because they’ve ordered it in advance. I think that’s a fitting tribute to any Blyth fan to have their name printed in the club’s official history.”

In the interview with BSAFCTV, Ken summed up the book for anyone still undecided about buying it and revealed that he hopes it will be on sale for Christmas.

He said: “I would think that a Blyth fan doesn’t need persuading. There’s everything about the club that you could ever imagine.

“For fans of other clubs, it’s not a chest-beating “Blyth are great” sort of book, It’s an honest history and, when we’ve been beaten fair and square by anyone, it’s in there. I’ve tried to write it objectively.

“I would like to think it’s the most detailed book of North East Non-League football that’s ever been written. That’s quite a boast, but I’d like to read one that’s more thorough.

“I’d like to think it’d be out by Christmas, but that depends a lot on the funding and depends a lot on the pre-sales. So, if anyone has an interest in pre-sales, approach the Supporters’ Club, approach me or approach anyone from the club.

“Get your name down and we’ll try and get it out as quick as we can.”

Posted by Glen Maxwell