Eastbourne Borough FC - The Sports

Boro Stalwarts In Non-League Book

..... "volunteers".

Here Kevin Anderson, himself another regular face at The Lane, comments and reviews "Love Not Money".

 

"Love, not money. Rarely has a book been better summed up in its title. The irony, and the beauty, of this book is that the author really belongs in it himself. Just like his subjects, he is "non-league man". In his other life, David Bauckham is a local lecturer, at the University of Brighton. But give him a camera (as happens, a rather sophisticated one) and a voice recorder, and on a typical Saturday he will set his Satnav for a grassroots football club anywhere from Alton Town to Altrincham.

Already among his publishing credits David has written on football grounds and their architecture, and his photographic passions and projects include the "furniture" of grounds, such as dugouts, rollers and machinery. But his latest offering is not about eccentricities, but about non-league’s driving force: the officials, the volunteers, the supporters.

Non-league football is a curious animal. Although it shares the sport with the big boys, and their big salaries and big egos, it is also a world apart, and the two worlds do not often collide. And yet – as Bauckham so skilfully shows – non-league has the stronger claim to be truly the “People’s Game”. Because this book is about people: ordinary people doing things for club and community which are, at once, humble and yet extraordinary.

Up and down the country, he has searched out those people. Often, they will have been surprised by his attention, for not one of them is a seeker of glory or self-promotion. But it is their very selflessness that David celebrates.

The 72 people interviewed must between them have chalked up a thousand years of service, or possibly two or three times that. They mark the pitch and run the tea-bar. They edit the programme. They carry that banner of tradition and continuity which David salutes.

Sussex is well represented. Two from his home club Eastbourne Borough, including former secretary Myra Stephens, whose service and quiet dignity are summed up in her own phrase: “You just do the best you can”. And far across the country David has sought out the oldest clubs, such as Marine FC from Lancashire, and the oldest of elder statesmen like Maurice Boxall of Hassocks, who is virtually the Prince Philip of non-league. This book is a work of love, and it reflects the love and passion of grass-roots folk for their grass-roots sport.

David’s strength is twofold: as a photographer and a writer. The Bauckham lens has that wonderful knack of capturing the personality in the image, and so of bringing each subject to life. The quality of the pictures is superb: each of his subjects has a wry smile or a pensive stare, a twinkle of an eye or a wrinkle of a brow weatherbeaten by decades on the touchline.

Beneath each picture, there is a fairly simple half-page of text. A little biography of each subject is followed by his or her own words.

As Borough stalwart Mick Syndercombe commented to me on viewing a copy this week: “He snapped my photo – sitting on the mower – and then we must have talked for twenty minutes, and I said to David: how are you going to get all that down?”

But what David has done is to capture the essence. Even in those few lines, you feel you know Mick, or you know someone just like him. There is a transparency in David’s writing style which lets his subjects speak, and it is their voices that tell the story.

David and I, as it happens, are old friends. We have shared commentary boxes and lengthy away trips – the latter whiled away happily with conversations on sport, politics or opera. But the joy of non-league is that it has room for everyone: you leave all your pretensions behind at the turnstile.

If you understand non-league, you will be greedy for this book. If you don’t understand non-league, your first step is to get reading it now."

David will be at Priory Lane this Saturday .v. Dover, helping out his club, but will also be on hand to discuss and no doubt take orders for "Love Not Money"

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