Wednesday 28 September 2022


[Note: Here, below, my good friend James Brown provides a synopsis of his newly published book, Mud, Blood and Studs, One Family's Legacy in Soccer and Rugby Across Three Continents. Primarily a story about his grandfather and fathers footballing legacy its much more than that. Its an ode to an extraordinary family of sporting talent.

I've been collaborating with James for a few years now and he gives me some credit in helping him with his research for his book, specifically around the 1930 US team but its perhaps more credit than I deserve but thats James for you, very kind and humble and one of the most generous people I have ever met. - Dean Lockyer, World Cup 1930 Project]



I embarked on this adventure some 6 long years ago. At year 5, I met my good friend Dean, and he was already deep entrenched by the mystique of the 1930 World Cup since years. I was eager to find out about the careers that I grew up hearing stories about. I needed to see photos, articles, programmes. Whatever I could. I had just jumped in with both feet, searching worldwide everywhere I could to find out information on every member of my sporting family over 3 different generations of football and rugby players: libraries in Bayonne and Plainfield, New Jersey; online archives & British Newspaper sources; English & Scottish Premiership & other league clubs like Plainfield Soccer Club, Bayonne Rovers, Newark Skeeters, NY Giants, Brooklyn Wanderers, Newark Americans, Newark City, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, Brentford, Guildford City, Clyde, Ipswich Town, Glenburn Rovers, Shawfield, Clyde, Hibernian, Dundee, Dreghorn Juniors, Kilmarnock, Troon Athletic, Partick Thistle, Chester, Swindon Town, Lovell's Athletic, Distillery (N. Ireland) and national junior and senior team sides in the United States, England and Scotland. Then over to the rugby side of the Brown and Lambie families with Jonsson College Rovers, West of Scotland, Natal, Sharks, Guy's, Kings and St. Thomas' Rugby Football Club, Sharks, Racing 92, Gala, Western Province, Marr College FP, Glasgow District, England, Scotland, South Africa Springboks, British and Irish Lions…That’s an extensive and proud list. 

6 years-worth - a mountain of research articles, documents, photos, books, etc. 

Family letters, photos and albums, interviews, memories and recollections were essential to collect, arrange and weave into this story that I spent 6 fantastic years working on. Along the way, I’ve made wonderful friendships throughout the world on all continents with soccer geeks, kindred spirit,  passionate men and women for all walks of life – but all linked to association foot-ball, soccer, football, etc – to The Beautiful Game. While I went on a search for any online references or through collections, online sales – I stumbled upon a podcast where a roundtable was taking place, talking about early US soccer and that’s when I first heard Tom McCabe and David Kilpatrick, both professors at the time in the NY/NJ area. David was talking about players’ rights and that he had a paper somewhere in his neatly organized mess of an office! And that is was about the NY Giants in 1930 having gone on strike because of pay concerns and that a young lad by the name of James Brown was the only player on the team who didn’t agree with the settled amount.  

To learn more about America’s rich soccer history, go to The Society for American Soccer History

I quickly made contact with both of them and from there, learned more about The Society for American Soccer History (S.A.S.H) and their efforts to revitalize, correct, do more research and help to educate those who wanted to know about US soccer’s rich history dating back to the 1880s. The other major reason for diving into US soccer history was coming across SASH member, Zach Bigalke’s PhD thesis called, “Anything but Ringers”, a deep analysis about the soccer lanscape in the 1920s building up to the 1930 World Cup and the US Men’s National Team with my grandfather being one of those players. The thought was that since the US was not a big player on the recent international stage (2 dismal showing at the Olympic Games 1924 and 1928) and not getting out of the pool rounds. Their run in the 1930 World Cup that got them out of the pool stage at the top of the table with 2 cleansheet wins against Belgium and Paraguay to the semis and ending with a crushing, unjust loss to Argentina, was acccentuated with suspicions because of USMNT’s drastic change in performance and british accents. Hence, federations and reporters thought the US bought their way to 3rd place, when in fact, the US players with Scottish and English origins had actually lived in the US since their teens, with my grandfather being the last immigrant to join the team when he moved to the US in 1927. Their accents always remained. You can take a man out of Scotland but you can never take Scotland out of the man!   

I must confess that once soccer moved into color from a photography perspective, I kind of stopped being interested, so from 1960 onwards! My main focus is from 1920s to the end of the 1950s. It was a period where sandlots were the main recruiting terraces and strong waves of immigration helped bolster leagues, especially on the East Coast. Balls were made of heavy leather and laced up causing a bump and often inflicting damage when heading, even-more-so when it rained the ball became a medicine ball waiting to send you to the emergency room or asylum for an early retirement – just ask Wee Willie! Boots were tough, heavy and felt like today’s security steel-toed boots.  You had to be tough, determined and ready to win at all costs back then. With S.A.S.H, I find so much joy in helping individuals or historical soccer societies find out more about their past players or relatives who played in the 1920s, ‘30s, etc or journalists who need some help gathering more info for a story.  

I’ve worked with people from North and South America to EU (Western & Eastern Europe), UK, South Africa and North Africa I’ve found my stride in researching backgrounds of players and I get such a rush from unraveling that little bit of info, photo etc that completes the puzzle of one’s career back in the day. Roger Alaway, the foremost US soccer historian recently referred to me as the Sherlock Holmes of Soccer! That’s a compliment that I can run with and I feel so fortunate to have kindred spirit in the soccer history world. Dean does some of the most in-depth analysis of the 1930 World Cup overall, and I’m astounded by what he finds and posts every week on Twitter and on his blog. I owe so much of what I know today because of him and it’s great to collaborate with him.  Whenever I send him an email with an item or tidbit I’ve come across, I always start off saying “you probably already have this…” and 9 times out of 10 he already had it!  

James with son, Aidan, in Paris, 2019

So, what started off as a pure family tree set of papers that I wanted to assemble for my son, Aidan so that he knew where he came from, from a sporting perspective, turned into something bigger, better and gave me a new focus in life. He now has a definitive look at the paternal side of the Brown. Soccer has always been in my blood and I’m just so happy to be able to share my love for the the Beautiful Game with you all and collaborate, exchange ideas and help resolve those mysteries from early periods of soccer. The main challenge in the US is finding family’s of former players to see what was passed down; see the state of preservation and help the family understand what their options are for the collection and then organize with museums, private collectors, universities, etc. 

In any event, I look forward working on 2 more books about the USMNT for 2026 and am so happy to be able to give back to a sport that I cherish so! 

You can buy the book in hardcover or Ebook - Kindle - through the following distribution points

UK – delivery already started since Sept. 1

North & South America – (Delivery starts Dec. 1, 2022)

If you need any research help about soccer teams, clubs, players, federations – don’t hesitate to contact me on Twitter @ 1930WorldCup or by email at Of course, Dean is always keen as well digging for 1930 World Cup research, especially when relatives of players from that World Cup contact us.