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The FA

Pickford - The Biography

The biography of former FA President William Pickford is now available.

William "Billy" Pickford, who lived from 1861 to 1938, is a hugely important figure in the history of The Football Association.

He served The FA for half a century, sat on its Rules Committee for more than 40 years and as a final accolade was elected its President in 1937.

William Pickford - A Biography, Norman Gannaway's book just published, provides a fascinating insight into the life of the great man and the early workings of The FA in London and the Hampshire County FA.

He was born in Lancashire and initially held an interest in rugby. Two teachers at All Saints' School persuaded him to attend a football match between Blackburn District and Bolton and afterwards the young Pickford wrote: "I fell in love with 'soccer' at once. The players were not bunched together half the time in struggling heaps, but each man in his place, like chessmen, and the footcraft, passing and speed fascinated me."

He immediately joined a local junior club, being promoted to the first team after scoring a hatful of goals for the second eleven. In his early 20s he moved down to Bournemouth again, where the Pickford family had first moved when he was nine, and played for Bournemouth Rovers FC.

Billy was employed as a book-keeper on the Bournemouth Guardian, but he was also asked to write reports on local football matches. He became aware of the South Wilts Association and suggested that a similar organisation should be considered for the area around Bournemouth and beyond.

The Bournemouth Rovers Committee arranged a meeting in Wimborne in 1884 and the result was the forming of a "South Hants and Dorset Football Association". Three years later one Association became two.

The Hampshire Football Association came into being in two stages, with Pickford very much part of the process. His sense of purpose, and pursuit of an identified goal, played a significant part. It turned out to be a step along a path towards widening horizons for the Bournemouth football enthusiast. He became a member on The FA Council and that was his entry onto the national stage.

The "father of football in Hampshire" became a Vice-President of FIFA, a member on the law-changing International FA Board and even entertained royalty at Wembley Cup Finals. But Pickford's concern for football continued to be as deeply expressed at a local level as on the national and international scene.

The author of this very readable biography wrote: "In researching and writing a biography over a period of years, an author comes to feel an acquaintance with the person being written about. In the case of William Pickford, there has been a growing affection and admiration".

For information on the book, or to order a copy, contact the Hampshire Football Association, Winklebury Football Complex, Winklebury Way, Basingstoke RG23 8BF (01256 853000).