BOOK REVIEW
 
MANIFEST DESTINY : The Official History of St Johnstone FC 1885-2015 by Alastair Blair and Brian Doyle
 
 
SCOTTISH FOOTBALL HISTORIAN
e-zine Winter 2015/16   Issue 136
 
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Football Books & Databases
St Johnstone emerged from the morass of local clubs formed when football became an organised sport in the last quarter of the 19th century, to be the focal point of the Big County's sporting interest.   They were comparatively slow in making their mark nationally - joining the Scottish League as late as 1911 - and it took until the mid 1920's before football talent from the rest of Scotland was attracted to Perth, to establish the club in the top division.
 
In common with their fellow town and county clubs, Saints flirted with greatness for brief spells in each decade.   They fielded internationalists in the 1930s, reached a League Cup Final in the 1960s quickly followed by European football in 1971/72, but the sale of Muirton Park and removal to Britain's first purpose-built all-seated football stadium in 1989 provided a platform for the club to aim higher, more often.
 
In 1997 Alastair Blair and Brian Doyle filled a gaping hole in Scottish football's bibliography with the publication of "Bristling With Possibilities", the Official History of St Johnstone FC from 1885 to 1997.   Their 300 page book set a new standard for Scottish football club histories.  In the ensuing 18 years, the club has experienced good years and bad; far more of the former in recent times, culminating in Saints' first major national trophy success in 2014 when they won the Scottish Cup.
 
That event sealed the inevitability of an updated version of the book, and MANIFEST DESTINY brings the story up to 2015.    It is to the huge credit of both authors that this is no mere addendum.   Further depth has been added to the distant years by two decades of continuing research, and the additional content is manifest in the new book's noticeably smaller typeface.  Sensibly, the extensive interviewing which gave the original book so much authority has been retained, and indeed extended into the detailed coverage of the last two decades.
 
The text, liberally interspersed with illustrations, mixes several themes to good effect.  The historical narrative is interspersed with extracts from the club's minute books and is enlivened by quotations from contemporary newspapers.   As the story progresses through the 20th century, first hand reminiscences from players, managers, supporters and club officials lend authority and insight.  Events and decisions which changed the club's destiny, several of them contentious, are analysed in depth; and if opinions bring the commentary to a conclusion they are invariably voiced by those who were closely involved, or central to, such pivotal moments in the club's history.
 
Space is given to reminiscences from a number of the club's supporters, but the entire narrative is soaked in the reverence of their beloved club by the two authors, which provides a warmth and charm which greatly enhances the reader's enjoyment.
 
The sum of these parts is a comprehensive, authoritative, but never dull story of one of Scottish football's major clubs.   The first book was notable for its detailed, match-by-match, statistical appendix, which has been updated.  Some earlier gaps in the facts and figures have been filled, and the occasional omission or inaccuracy corrected.
 
This new book has not only updated and improved upon one of the very best football books, it stands in its own right as an indispensible aid to the understanding of Scottish football history.
 
350 A4 pages, softback, £25 plus £5 p&p from St Johnstone FC, ISBN 0-905452-79-8
 
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Here is a list of the books and databases we have for sale.
Click on the title to obtain further details,
and how to buy.
You can also click on the Book Cover illustrations below

HISTORY BOOKS

 

50 YEARS OF SCOTTISH FOOTBALL

 

THIRD LANARK HISTORY

 

VALE OF LEVEN HISTORY

 

FOOTBALL' S WHITE FEATHERS (World War 1 & Scottish Football)

 

SCOTTISH CUP FINALS

 

RAITH  ROVERS HISTORIES

 

A History and Guide to
FOOTBALL PROGRAMMES

 

FOOTBALL HISTORY DATABASES   (all on CD ROM, in Excel format)

 

A RECORD OF PRE-WAR
SCOTTISH LEAGUE PLAYERS

 

 

A RECORD OF POST-WAR
SCOTTISH LEAGUE PLAYERS

 

 

SCOTTISH LEAGUE TABLES 

 

PRE-WAR SCOTTISH LEAGUE RESULTS, SCORERS, ATTENDANCES

 

We are also publishers of
Football History Books
If you "have a book in you" and wish to have it published,
contact John Litster by
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You can also click on the Book Cover illustrations below