This week, it was with no small amount of delight that I took delivery of this season's Sky Sports Football Yearbook (or 'Rothmans' as all football fans still refer to it). I haven't had one for a long time - not since my teens - and had forgotten what a pleasure it is to leaf through its thin, cheap pages.
Reassuringly still edited by father and daughter team Jack and Glenda Rollin, it does a brilliant job of reminding you all the stuff from previous seasons that you'd forgotten about - particularly the most recent season.
But what it's even better at is alerting you to interesting (depending on your definition of 'interesting') facts and stats that you'd completely missed.
In an attempt to prove how gloriously nerdy, fascinating and useful this book is, I am setting myself the challenge of finding one interesting nugget of information every three minutes, for thirty minutes, and then I'll report back on what I discover. Ok here goes...
As Fist of Fun's Simon Quinlank used to say in the 1990s, "You may drink your weak lemon drink now."
- I had no idea that the following four individuals had all managed Doncaster Rovers: Lawrie McMenemy (68-71), Billy Bremner (78-85 and 89-91), Dave Mackay (87-89), Kerry Dixon (96-97).
- The 1950 FA Charity Shield was contested between, bizarrely, the "World Cup Team" versus "Canadian Touring Team". What the heck? Anyway, the Canadians went down 4-2.
- Chelsea goalkeeper Hilario scored two goals in one season, playing for Academica in the Portuguese league.
- Celtic once lost 8-0 to Motherwell.
- Sir Alf Ramsey managed Birmingham from 1977-78 - how did I not know this? (Incidentally, Birmingham's managerial history features some cracking names including: Billy Beer, Bob Brocklebank and Roberts McRoberts.
- On 17 December 2009, Lazio hosted Levski in Europa League Group G. The score was a shock 0-1 victory for Levski. More surprising is the recorded attendance in Rome that night: 3,000. Youtube footage suggests most of these were Levski fans. Anyone know where the Lazio fans were that night?
- Milton Keynes Dons, a team formed as recently as 2004, mysteriously has a managerial history dating back to 1955 including Dave Bassett, Bobby Gould and Joe Kinnear. I assume this is a mis-print, right?
- In a nod to the modern world, crusty old Rothmans now lists on each club's entry the official email address you should use if you want to contact the club. Most, rather boringly, have "info@clubname" style corporate email address. Not Swindon though. If you want to get in touch with Swindon, you have to email "Brian P". Rothmans says so.
- Wing-half George Farrow completed five years in all four Football League divisions in 1936 after a spell at Second Division Blackpool followed spells at Wolves (Div 1), Bournemouth (Div 3 South) and Stockport (Div 3 North).
- Since WWII, total attendance figures for England's top division have always been above 10 million, with the exception of the period 1982-1993, when they were consistenly below this number, dropping as low as 7.8 million. In fairness, football was quite rubbish during this period.
So there's 10 quickfire reasons why Rothmans is a geeky delight. This genuinely was researched under timed conditions - this stuff is everywhere once you start flicking through. I'll find a thousand more little nuggets like this over the course of the season no doubt, with Rothmans always in easy grabbing distance from the sofa.
If anyone's interested, here's a gallery of the first 30 years of Rothmans covers. 1986/87 is a belter.
Go on, admit it, your inner nerd is itching to head over to a famous rivery-sounding online bookshop isn't it? If it's not, then I'm sorry I've wasted your time and I'll let you get back to listening to Talksport.