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Book Review: The City Boys Are Back In Town

Published on: 15 Nov, 2016
Updated on: 15 Nov, 2016

Anyone with a love of senior football in Guildford and its players will enjoy a new book – The City Boys Are Back In Town.

city-boysWritten and compiled by Stuart Phillips, it is 284 A4-size pages in length with pen pictures and statistics of more than 700 players who either played for Guildford United, that later became Guildford City and finally Guildford & Dorking United teams, between the years 1921 to 1976.

The book is a tremendous feat of gathering players’ and match statistics, plus photographs, and much credit goes to Stuart who has worked on the project over the past 20 years.

In the book’s introduction Stuart says he can remember little of the club, although he was taken to home games by his parents, but was only five years old when Guildford City vacated its Joseph’s Road ground.

He adds that he grew up hearing many stories from his father, Peter, which sparked his interest in recording details of the club and its players.

Guildford City in action at their Joseph's Road ground in the 1950s. Picture from the new book.

Guildford City in action at their Joseph’s Road ground in the 1950s. All pictures seen here are from the new book.

Stuart admits that he is more of a statistition than a writer. However, he has assembled his records of 43,000 individual appearances, nearly 8,000 goals and around 3,750 games in a veritable A to Z of players as well as managers and club officials in this fine book!

The who’s who starts with Eric Abbot, who played for the club between 1956-60 and ends with Harry Young, 1956-57. But among them are players who anyone familiar with the club may recall (not to be confused with the re-born Guildford City who play at the Spectrum leisure centre today).

Tony Burge.

Tony Burge.

Here’s a few names that will be remembered from its latter years: Tony Burge, John Brooks, Jackie Graham, Syd Bishop, Les Brown, and also Darby Watts, who has written the book’s foreword.

Go back further, some may remember or know about Ronnie Rooke, born in Guildford in 1911, who later played for Stoke City, Crystal Palace, Fulham and Arsenal. Or Scots born Danny Devine, a well respected City player who represented the club from 1955-58 and 1959-71. While George Bytheway, who played for the club from 1936-46, was in the side that won the Southern League Championship in the 1937-38 season.

Stuart has collected his data and stories from a wide range of sources. They include local newspaper reports (many hours spent at the British Newspaper Archive), the British Library, Surrey History Centre, the Football Association Library, football books, and so on, as well as from many people including former players and their families.

Ronnie Rooke.

Ronnie Rooke.

In fact, no official records exist from the original club.

This has meant much cross-checking of facts, which he admits to sometimes being a bit contradicting. He says his desire has been to get the records as accurate as possible, but where he has come across confusion in the data, if he has a player’s account, and he belives that to more accurate, he has chosen to use theirs.

Stuart has published the book himself and it has been printed by Knaphill Print Company. It is part one of two more publications he is planning, in so much as he has collected so many statistics and facts. Part two will chart the full playing record of the club.

Georeg Bytheway.

George Bytheway.

The City Boys Are Back In Town costs £20. It can be bought via ebay – just search under the book’s title.

It can also be bought and collected direct from Stuart Phillips who lives in Guildford. Call him on 01483 832017 (evenings) or send an email to

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Responses to Book Review: The City Boys Are Back In Town

  1. Brian Holt Reply

    November 16, 2016 at 4:11 pm

    Congratulations to Stuart for his excellent book The City Boys Are Back In Town. My father started taking me in 1950 to Joseph’s Road, I was just nine-years-old and have hardly ever miss a match since.

    The book, with 284 pages, is full of detail and it is nice to go through it and remember all those players through the years.

    • Stuart Phillips Reply

      November 16, 2016 at 6:46 pm

      I am glad Brian Holt liked it.

      More projects to follow.

  2. Jackie Montague Reply

    November 16, 2016 at 5:03 pm

    Great about the book. Would you have any pictures or information on “The Pinks”? My great grandad played for them. His name was Morgan Avery and he died in World War 1.

    • Stuart Phillips Reply

      November 16, 2016 at 6:44 pm

      In response to Jackie Montague – It’s a project in progress, believe it or not.

      Perhaps she would care to send me an email at: and we can discuss?

  3. Colin Stonebridge Reply

    November 20, 2016 at 1:23 pm

    Really looking forward to purchasing a copy of this book. At present I am researching Ronnie Rooke who was a relative of my mum.

    I started compiling facts, stories and articles some years ago and have put them together as a brief history, which possibly, like your accounts, change as new information comes in.

    My mum has since passed away but she did share some great memories before she died. Any information available on this great player, from his early years in the Guildford area, would be very much appreciated.

    • Jackie Coppack Reply

      July 9, 2021 at 8:17 pm

      Are you still researching Ronnie Rooke? My mum is Kathleen Rooke and I think we are related. If you would like to get in touch via my daughter we need to get more information via The Dragon.

  4. Ray Mitchell Reply

    February 20, 2017 at 7:28 am

    My grandfather, Leonard Charles Ede, was a captain of Guildford City in his day and I believe he is spoken about in this book.

    Unfortunately I not read it yet but my sister has told me about it and I will be buying a copy.

    Grandad was actually a painter and decorater from Millmead Terrace. I am 58 and he passed away from old age when I was about 10.

  5. Beryl Knowles Reply

    May 13, 2019 at 8:19 pm

    My father is George Bytheway who played for the club from 1936 – 46 . We moved north to Derbyshire when I was a baby but my daughter now lives in Guildford and came across the book online. She has ordered it for me and I look forward to reading it very soon

  6. Colin Matthews Reply

    May 22, 2019 at 10:52 am

    Can anyone tell me what has happened to John Brookes? I would like to know as he lived with us in Guildford in the mid-70s.

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