142 years after the introduction of collectors cards to packets of cigarette, George Rowlands has compiled the first full and complete list and history of each Liverpool FC player to have adorned a such a card. Owner of an almost complete set, George told deCoubertin what made him want to write The Redmen of Liverpool FC: The Tobacco Years and what made him start collecting in the first place.
Memories of my earliest years are shaped by two major events. The heavy bombings of my neighbourhood during WWII and the first time I "bunked" into Anfield to watch an amazing spectacle in front of me. The sheer excitement of the crowds, the noise, the songs coming from the Kop: football and Liverpool got me there and then.
Throughout the many years between then and now, Liverpool Football Club and those "Greats" have stayed with me. However, it was only really when I retired, got my laptop and saw the world of online records open before me that my curiosity for those players from my childhood was reignited.
Fond memories of hanging around tobacconist shops, asking customers for their "ciggie cards" and hoping it was one of the players I'd seen, made me want to start collecting those same LFC "ciggie cards" again. What started off as a casual interest trying to compile a full team from those early years, soon became a challenge to then find every Liverpool player ever shown on a cigarette card. This led me to joining my local card club based in Timperley, Cheshire, where I soon met many like-minded collectors and dealers. Their depth of knowledge and assistance soon took my interest to another level. It was no longer just a case of trying to get hold of any card, I then became inquisitive as to the lives these players led. This opened a whole new intriguing phase for me, taking me to areas and places of research including the National Archive in Kew, the Football Museum in Preston and the General Registry Office.
My research has also included talking to some of the players (now, since, deceased) and most interestingly, some relatives of those early players. These experiences made some players become more than just a face on a card and made me appreciate their immense achievement - most coming from humble working-class backgrounds to become local and, in time, national heroes.
As the extent of my files and records grew, it occurred to me that there may be other people who shared my interest in both LFC and cigarette cards. Upon investigation, I could not find any existing publication which showed and detailed all of the LFC cards that were known at that time to have been produced. This prompted me to get to work on my own book, which subsequently was favourably received by deCoubertin Books.
I hope that all I have achieved in writing this book over the past years will give others as much enjoyment as it has me, plus perhaps assist others' future research.
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