Over the years since 1910 the history of Ayr United has been told in print.
The publication was printed on shiny paper with small black and white type with a scattering of pictures included. It included a summary of league results for those seasons.
When Ayr United won the 2nd Division Title in 1988, Jim McSherry, former Ayr United player and journalist with the Ayr Advertiser published a magazine entitled ‘How the League was Won - The Full Story of 1987-1988: A Glorious Season for the Honest Men of Ayr United’.
The title was nearly as long as the publication which was only 40 pages long and contained a detailed examination of United’s Title winning season in picture and story. Well worth the £2.50 for any Ayr supporter at the time.
The publication was printed and publicised under the auspices of the Ayr Advertiser.
Then stepped in local football historian Duncan Carmichael who must be regarded as the most prolific writer of books on the history of any single club and Ayr United must have the great honour to have had so many books written about them. Duncan wrote.the second history of the club which was published in two volumes - Volume 1 in November 1990 covering the years of 1876 to 1939, and Volume 2 for the years covering 1939 to 1990 in November 1992.
Both volumes were published in both hardback and softback and both were introduced by Robert A. G Loudon, Chairman of Ayr United at the time. In volume 1 he described Duncan’s contribution to the Ayr United programme sincve the early age of 17 and to the 20 years of research that Duncan undertook in writing these two books.
The books are a superb record of Ayr United’s fortunes over these years with much insight into some of the backroom wrangles and they are rich with pictures of players, managers, league tables and views of Somerset Park.
Volume 1 contains 232 pages with a blank page at the back for autographs. It was in Duncan’s words in the introduction, a story of the development and emergence of one team and catalogued the ancestry and history of the club. Volume 2 contained 318 pages and continued the story to 1990 and was dedicated to Ayr United devotees everywhere.
This book is a superb compilation of pictures from the archives. Duncan explains that in compiling this book it meant a series of approximately 200 black and white photographs rather than a mass of text. Again he emphasise the great help from the two local newspapers - ‘The Ayr Advertiser’ and ‘Ayrshire Post’.
Again the book covered the period from 1910 with each chapter covering a 20- year period until 1995. The book contains some wonderful pictures for the Honest Men faithful.
Another publication during this period was a second magazine type history, 24 pages in length published by Ayrshire News Limited.
The publication entitled Black and Blue was an excellent history and contained narrative, statistical and pictorial ( black and white pictures only ) coverage of ten 'famous' derbies between Ayr United and Kilmarnock between the years of 1970 and 1992 each match being covered separately
The magazine was very well priced at £1
The cover has a now very familiar picture of Yogi's celebrations after Ayr's semi final win over Hibernian in February 2002.
The book contained many illustrations of players, managers and the front cover of matchday programmes for some of the matches.
Another Classic from Duncan Carmichael.
The irrepressible Duncan wasn’t finished there. Two more classic publications followed in very quick succession in 2004 and 2005.
In 2004, he published a book which included the definitive view of a long held debate within the Ayr united fraternity. Who were the 100 greats ever to grace the black and white of Ayr United?
Duncan revealed all this in another 128 publication from Tempus Publishing entitled ‘100 greats - Ayr United Football Club’. This publication provided full page portraits of the greatest 100 players ranging from the legendary Peter Price, Jimmy Smith, Jackie Cox the more recent Cutty Young and Henry Templeton.
As Duncan said in his introduction, it would not be necessary to canvas public opinion to come up with the answer of who these top 100 would be.
The book contains some excellent pictures from the past and present.
Mr Ayr United was at it again in 2006 with ‘Walking Down the Somerset Road’ a history of the club going back to before the days of Ayr United and describing the early days of football in Ayr from Ayr Thistle FC playing at Thistle Park off Midton Road to Somerset Park in 2006. Quite simply the most comprehensive book ever published on the Honest Men. It starts with the period before the formation of Ayr United when Ayr FC and Ayr Parkhouse became leading members of the Scottish League.
Following a historic merger of these two clubs Ayr United was formed in 1910, creating a new force in Scottish football.
Every season in Ayr United's history is covered in detail right up until 2006. The legendary players and managers, the great matches, the off-the-field dramas such as United for Heathfield. There are also sixteen pages of colour photographs with stunning images of legends like Ally MacLeod, Hyam Dimmer, Peter Price, John Murphy, Alex Ingram, Ian McAllister and John Hughes. The index is highly informative and, at 7,500 words, one of the most detailed in any football book.
A great read for Ayr United diehards.
Duncan doesn’t believe in standing still although it was 5 years before his next book in 2011 when he started delving into AYR UNITED MISCELLANY which begins by describing the failed attempt at floodlighting an early match in 1876 by Ayr Academicals.
This book is about the ‘world of eccentric happenings in local football. These tales are mad but true. They are local but are sure to contain generic appeal by dint of the fact that such tales could reflect the game’s evolution in many localities. Such generic appeal might also be enjoyed by supporters of any similarly-sized club. The timescale transcends the generations from Victorian times to modern times. From the ill-advised experiment with floodlit football in 1878 to Alex Williams’ love-in with a referee in 2009, football’s propensity for the abnormal has not diminished with time.
What was life like on a stinking (literally) football special in 1901?, What was the quaint custom of ‘stoatin the baw’?, Which Ayr United goalkeeper once played in a Euro qualifier with a knitted bobble hat perched on his head? and much, much more.
Well for answers you will have to read the book!
There is no doubt about it that without Duncan Carmichael, the published history of Ayr United Football Club would be a sad tale indeed. But a subject seldom considered is football in the War years and Duncan’s next book in 2014 ‘Ayr United at War’ describes much about the club and its players and supporters from the Boar War to the present day in the Wars against the Taliban in the 2000’s.
The centenary, in 2014, of the outbreak of the Great War was the prompt to complete this study of the social and playing impact on Ayr United - and the clubs in the family tree - of the Boer War, the Great War, the Second World War and Afghanistan. The stories of the Ayr FC club doctor stationed at a concentration camp in the Boer War and the old player who carried out a civilian commando raid in the same conflict are mixed with the humour in the account of the Provost of Ayr being the only person in the town who knew that the Boer War was over, but not bothering to tell anyone.
The Great War brought local chaos with shortages and strikes in the town, and players killed or wounded in action. The film "Escape To Victory" has roots in a barely documented chapter of history from the Great War, including a key character destined to manage Ayr United. And why did Ayr Town Council urge the people not to celebrate VE Day? The tales of the soldier who preferred Afghanistan to Kilmarnock, and the arrival of a most illustrious visitor and football legend, David Beckham, holding an Ayr United scarf aloft during a visit to Camp Bastion in Afghanistan.
Duncan continued publications in 2016 with ‘Ayr United On this Day’ which described the history of the club by date.
Where were you on Sunday 15 May 2016, when the final whistle blew at the Championship play-off? Where were Ayr United playing when Willie Japp's miskick won the game?
Think about Norway 1928; Sweden 1928, 1998 and 2000; Canada 1973 and 1975; France 1973; Nigeria 1976; the Irish Republic 1994 and Austria 2009. Were you there? Wherever and whenever Ayr United have played, the spirit of the club has remained alive. You don't need to have an obsession with dates to enjoy this blend of statistics, player photographs, archive programmes and other football memorabilia from the vast resources of Duncan Carmichael.
The raw emotions generated by the fortunes and - dare it be said - misfortunes of this great club are captured by a man who has inhabited the Somerset Park terracing for more than half of Ayr United's lifespan. A man eminently qualified to understand what drives the human mind to alternate between elation and despair, the author requires no other introduction.
A further book was published in 2017 entitled ‘Ayr United F.C Managers’ and is the latest publication from Ayr United Club Historian Duncan Carmichael. Did you know that a former Ayr United great was the first Briton to be a football manager in Argentina? Did you know that a former Ayr United manager gave first team debuts to such luminaries as Gareth Bale and Theo Walcott?
This book contains facts aplenty but the overall purpose in compiling it was to create a study of the managerial evolution at Somerset Park. Sometimes the efforts of past managers were in vain. Sometimes it came to glorious fruition. Either way it is all documented within these pages.
It includes Ian McCall who took over the reigns in January 2015. The role of the football manager has radically changed since 1910 with early ones having no input to team selection at all.
What manager would accept this scenario today.
The book contains many pictures of previous Ayr United managers as well as other pictures of players and programme covers including a picture of George Burley who had the privilege of managing Ayr United and Scotland.
What does Second Division Champions, 1911/12; Second Division Champions, 1912/13; Second Division Champions, 1927/28; Second Division Champions, 1936/37; Second Division Champions, 1958/59; Second Division Champions, 1965/66; Second Division Champions, 1987/88; Second Division Champions, 1996/97; League One Champions, 2017/18.tell you?
Well its Ayr United’s Nine Titles and thats the name of Duncan Carmichaels latest book.
Published in September 2018 as a paperback ‘Nine Titles:Ayr United Triumphs’ described these successes.
A new author and a new perspective comes in 2012 in ‘One Honest Man, Four Different Perspectives’ takes the reader on the journey with a fanatical Ayr United supporter, detailing his fascination with football from the day of his birth right up to the conclusion of the 2011/12 Scottish football season. The story encapsulates the full range of emotions of a young boy and his football obsession, his dream to become a top player and the roller-coaster of emotions he experiences through his life as a supporter, a coach and a referee.
Author Gerry Ferrara becomes hooked on Ayr United in 1967, as a twelve -year-old on his first visit to a league match at the hallowed ground that is Somerset Park, Ayr, and embarks on a dramatic and emotional 45 year journey that comes to a climax as the now fifty seven-year-old in 2012, surrounded by his family, friends and tribal colleagues at Hampden Park in Glasgow, the national stadium, witnesses the latest attempt at glory and a new chapter in the history of the Honest Men.
The story offers something different from the usual football yarns, biographies and statistical accounts. It provides an insight into the thoughts of a provincial club supporter from four different perspectives, with his passion for football and the contrast of bitter disappointment and laugh out loud humour evident throughout in the numerous anecdotes taken from each of the different angles of a diehard follower of Ayr United, a football player in school, youth, amateur and pub football, a coach, manager and chairman in grass roots football and as a qualified referee in amateur and youth football.
Gerry was at it again in 2014 when he went behind the scenes at Somerset Park - in the manager's office, on the team bus and into the dressing rooms of every club they visit. Player pranks, dressing-room bust-ups, flaring tempers and flying missiles encapsulate the range of emotions as the lads aim for promotion. Team talks, motivational speeches and post-mortems are all part of the matchday experience in a rollercoaster season.
Illegal betting charges against striker Michael Moffat and the outrageous behaviour of kit man Alan Kerr are just two of the season's sideshows - while manager Mark Roberts provides a wonderful insight into the loneliest job in football. Tension mounts as the business end of the season approaches.
Will the Honest Men pull it off and experience the glory that comes with promotion? Or will the campaign end in failure, consigning the club to yet another season in the lower reaches of Scottish football?
On 30th October 2020, Duncan Carmichaels latest book ‘The Oddest Matches’ was published which talked about the evolvement of Football over the years, the Covid 19 pandemic and football but that no matter what, we dont lose our love for the foibles or eccentricinties. This book is about the crazy goings-on in the history of Ayr United and, to a lesser degree, Ayr FC and Parkhouse. What happens when the goalkeeper doesn't turn up? What can be done when the ball bursts?
Duncan was back in action, publishing ‘Ayr United - The Compendium’ on 24th August 2019" which looked at There are lies, damned lies and statistics." In the world of football the concept of argument is woven into the fabric of the game and Duncan Carmichael views this as a positive. After all, the game cannot die for as long as it is being discussed.
Why? Who? Where? When? How many? Statistics have the power to solve an argument or to fuel it further. Here the aim is to provide authoritative solutions to Ayr United-related arguments.
For every question there is an answer. Including finding out which player had "nary a blemish on his escutcheon."
Another success for our best known author.