I got the latest edition of the Derbyshire Yearbook through my door earlier this week, so thought it appropriate to make it the latest book review on this blog.
I have collected this every year from 1970 and still clearly recall getting my first one at the County Ground. It was a baking hot day, we beat Surrey and Chris Wilkins played a typically breezy innings. There was a lot to be thankful for that day. It was the centenary edition of the year book, marking that of the club, although the book itself only started in 1954. Under FG Peach and AF Dawn the book was good value and gave excellent potted match reports that, even from a distance, made you feel like you had actually been there.
That 1970 edition is still my favourite and I have subsequently bought another two copies as it has been well-thumbed. The numerous articles by former players make for stimulating reading and, although it took me the best part of twenty years, I eventually managed to complete a full set, which I have kept going.
I'd have to say that I sighed a little when the format changed to A4 a few years back. I understood the commercial reasons, but that full set doesn't look the same on the shelf nowadays. Nor is there as much reading as there once was. The golden era of the yearbook was under the auspices of the late Stan Tacey, a genuinely lovely man who gave me my first opportunity to write about Derbyshire. I had an article in it for a few years and got a free copy as payment, though the other contributors helped make it a stimulating and lengthy read.
These days it retains its usefulness, especially with the updated statistics section, while the reports of the chairman/head coach et al and chronology are worthwhile. That the T20 matches merit only a potted score, as in Wisden, suggests, rightly or wrongly, that it isn't worthy of too great a consideration. Given it accounts for a sizeable percentage of our income, however, one would have thought it worthy of more, especially when we have Rana Naved coming this season. I would hope his exploits merit expansion in next year's edition.
Speaking of Naved, it is also disappointing that we couldn't have come up with a better picture on page 34, which is a couple of years old and pre-tonsorial enhancement. The pictures are perhaps the most disappointing aspect, with exposure issues throughout. The one of Naved on page 7 isn't much better, while that of Martin Guptill on page 31 could easily feature on a new round in "A Question of Sport", probably named "Who the hell is that?" Meanwhile that of Mohammad Azharuddin on page 45 is like a photographic negative, while others are under or over exposed. The worthy efforts of the commercial team have been let down a little in the print quality this year, without a doubt.
In short - the yearbook is always a worthy addition to the season's books, its arrival heralding the start of a new season. The amount of work that goes into it is substantial (I know, from personal experience of publishing) and it shouldn't be too far from the armchairs of fans throughout the season.
It's just a shame that the print quality isn't better.