Hatters, Railwaymen and Knitters

‘Superlative…The book is beautifully written; pessimistic and damning, yet joyful and full of love for the game…wonderful.’
When Saturday Comes

Daniel Gray is about to turn 30. His reaction is to visit Luton, Crewe and Hinckley.

Hatters cover

Published in August 2013, Hatters, Railwaymen and Knitters is available from most good bookshops, in all the usual online places (such as Wordpower) including the publisher’s own site (Bloomsbury) and as an eBook. An unabridged audiobook version is available here

Read the Introduction and first chapter here, if you like.

Here, in Christmas tree formation shape, are some kind things that have been written about it:

David Conn, the guardian

‘Highly recommended.’
Oliver Kay, The Times

 ‘Gray brilliantly interweaves social history, modern day public and political life and, of course, football itself…Highly recommended.’
The Telegraph

‘[Gray] writes like Lowry paints. Superb.’
BBC Lancashire

‘Like a footballing version of Bill Bryson’s Notes from a Small Island.’
FourFourTwo magazine

‘A wryly-observed history lesson on lower league football and proper Englishness.’
Loaded magazine

‘A story of towns, their people, their histories, their clubs, and a ruddy bloody great read.’
Love Middlesbrough blog

‘Among urban blight, his astute eye can pick out details that are funny, redeeming or both…Book of the Week.’
Bradford Telegraph and Argus

‘Daniel Gray does an excellent job of writing a football book that is about more than football.’
No Nay Never blog

‘One of our favorite books in recent memory. It is a unique title, one that is part travel journal and part football commentary…It is really quite brilliant.’
International Soccer Network

‘300 pages of great prose… a beautiful book about England, one worth reading.’
Staten Island Advance newspaper

‘Superb…a shrewdly observed and at times caustic cocktail of social history and travelogue.’
Middlesbrough Evening Gazette

‘More than just a tale of sport, Gray’s quest becomes a voyage of discovery…His humour and passion may well win over even the most reluctant of football fans.’
Easyjet Traveller magazine

‘Superlative…The book is beautifully written; pessimistic and damning, yet joyful and full of love for the game…wonderful.’
When Saturday Comes magazine

‘A delight. It’s the kind of book, filled with astute observations of small details, that might just convince the most confirmed football sceptic why football has such a place in our culture….a book to savour and to make you think.’
New Statesman

 ‘A wonderful read and like some of the very best football books out there, the actual football is merely a footnote…Really enjoyable and beautifully paced, this is one to read and keep as in ten years’ time it could feel even more relevant than it does right now.’
In Bed with Maradona blog

‘It is perhaps obvious to compare Gray to Nick Hornby given the subject matter, yet the comparisons stretch beyond a passion for football… Beautifully written, nostalgic and reflective, this will also appeal to fans of Simon Armitage, Stuart Maconie and Tim Moore.’
Books with Bunny blog

‘Recognising the interconnectedness of town and team, Gray offers social histories of the places he visits for the weekend, coupling them with droll travel writing…a celebration of the game and where its roots and its guts lie… I heartily recommend you pick up a copy as an antidote to the cold cynicism that pervades the peak of the football pyramid.’
Football 365

Hatters back cover

A wee film and a wee-er one
Here’s a video about Hatters, kindly shot and edited by the marvellous Alan McCredie. Do check out his 100 Weeks of Scotland blog. Only after you’ve watched the video, mind. And bought the book. A few times over.

There are times when eight minutes of Daniel is simply too much. Here’s a shorter version of the video:

The towns and the teams, the parts and chapters…

In the Winter: Scabs, Blades, Hatters and Tractor Boys
Chapter One – Middlesbrough
Chapter Two – Sheffield [United, but with mention of The Rest]
Chapter Three – Luton
Chapter Four – Ipswich

In the Spring: Hornets, Os, Seals and Railwaymen
Chapter Five – Watford
Chapter Six – Leyton
Chapter Seven – Chester
Chapter Eight – Crewe

In the Summer: Knitters, Clarets and Bantams
Chapter Nine – The Middle of England
Chapter Ten – Burnley
Chapter Eleven – Bradford

In the Autumn: Blues and Peppermints
Chapter Twelve – Carlisle
The End – Newquay

…and some pictures of them


PDF Oct 25 BoroOct 26 poster
Hatters banner

22 thoughts on “Hatters, Railwaymen and Knitters

  1. Fabulous. Can’t wait for the book. Every road leads to 3 o’clock.

    My favourite part of the video, apart from some spinetinglingly good prose, is the bit at 5:43 where you accidentally swallow a bit too hard.


    1. Thank you, sir. Well, there was a very, very drunk man named Warren sat next to me staring at the side of my face during the pub bit. ‘Are you famous like? See me, ah’m a musician. Can ah make a film mate?’ It would’ve put me off script, had I a script.

  2. Love the video Dan and can’t wait to read the book, although I am a little disappointed that you didn’t make it along to Bootham Crescent!

    No mention of that Mecca of football, Soutar Close, either?

  3. Your wee film has certainly whetted my appetite for your new book and I look forward to the launch. One thing tho’, has the Budgie been reunited with its owner yet?

  4. It’s not every day you hear the name of the Seals being featured in a footy book! Given I am an exile in Aus I look forward to reading your impartial take on the Phoenix club, and all the other chapters! Nice work.

    1. Hello fellow Dan! Thanks for the kind words. I don’t want to spoil too much but I found my visit to your club faith-reaffirming. A large soft spot has developed.

  5. Can you make it available on flipkart.com pls? It serves the locality where I am in and it’s got loads of anglophiles rummaging for quality books… Cheers.

  6. Just read the book and loved every chapter. Glad you included Luton, it was my very first experience of watching a Brighton away game in the early 70’s. Every time the ball hit the stand roof a shower of rust fell on us, which happened frequently. Looking forward to more footie related stuff and must get a copy of Stramash.

    1. Thanks, Steve. Really glad you enjoyed it. Ace.

      Ha, what a superb memory. I love these stories, as you know. There are probably blokes in Brighton who still have specks of rust in their eyes.

  7. I haven’t enjoyed a football book that much since All Played Out. I’ve been wondering what it was that made it so enjoyable, and I think it’s because there are plenty of sections not about football. The history of the towns in question punctuated the chapters very well.
    Having said that, it did make me terribly nostalgic for the days when I used to watch football on proper terraces (at The Gay Meadow, then Tynecastle, and latterly Osaka Expo Stadium).

    1. Hi Matt

      Thanks ever so much for that. Really kind of you to take the time to say so, and high praise indeed.

      I know, I made myself sad writing a lot of it! Still, at least we have the memories of just how it was, or at least how we imagine it! Off now to look up the Osaka Expo…



  8. Daniel,

    Hatters, Railwaymen and Knitters has really struck a chord with me, and I haven’t even finished it yet! It reminds me a little of a book called The Far Corner by Harry Pearson, which was also a fabulous read. But mainly, I felt obliged to somehow show my appreciation for your writing, purely because it is, in essence, how I feel about my team, my country, my sport; the nostalgia, the history, the love of the game and the love of good people… I had a book published of my own last year, entitled A Football Education, which was basically a biographical account of my relationship with our beloved game and what it has taught me so far, and already Ive seen snippets from ‘Hatters’ that I touch upon. It’s tremendously reassuring that people of our age feel and write this way, I thought I was in a minority of one! I’ll sail through the rest of this and I’ll certainly be recommending it to friends and family, brilliant stuff!

    1. Hi Michael

      Thanks you so, so much for such kind comments. It’s incredibly brilliant to think it strikes such a chord. And to be mentioned in the same breath as The Far Corner is an honour!

      I’ve just found your book, looks superb. Am I best ordering through the Love Supreme site?

      Hope you enjoy the rest and thanks again,


      1. Yeah, the ALS site is the easiest place to buy online, let me know when you’ve received it, and thanks for helping me out!

        As I keep turning the pages I just keep smiling and nodding in agreement at each and every scenario, it just shows that there are people out there who feel the same. It really is a cracking read.

        Keep up the good work and enjoy A Football Education,


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