A NEW book aims to throw a fresh light on the historical rivalry between Bradford City and Bradford (Park Avenue) – in colour.

“The Wool City Rivals: A history in colour”, written by esteemed local author John Dewhirst, features professionally-coloured images from the past.

The book is the seventh volume in the bantamspast History Revisited series which re-examines the history of the professional game in Bradford.

And Dewhirst believes it will offer a whole new slant to the past by bringing the photographs to life.

“You tend to take a black and white image at face value,” he said. “But when you’re colourising, you’ve got to look in depth and it brings people to life.

“There’s one particular photograph from 1907 where you can actually see the main stand being built. There are things in there that you’ve never seen before.

“I’m familiar with these pictures but it’s given a whole new perspective. It brings out the personalities.

“Looking at the crowd scenes, you can see different cameos in there. You’ve also got pictures of women at the football.

“Everybody thinks that it always used to be an all-male pastime. But there is a photo from Park Avenue from 1914 and probably one in 10 spectators are women.”

The book is a collaboration with George Chilvers, one of the leading colourisers of archive football photos.

Liverpool-born Chilvers, a Wigan fan since moving there in 1976, has earned a worldwide reputation – with his work featuring on book covers, in matchday programmes and on websites as far away as Russia.

Dewhirst added: “For colourisation to convincingly bring a monochrome photograph to life requires careful attention to its original tones and light balance. It requires a keen eye and considerable attention to detail, not to mention skill.

“The 2018 documentary film about World War One ‘They Shall Not Grow Old’ by Peter Jackson is a prime example of how colourising can bring the past to life and this is our attempt to do likewise in the telling of Bradford football history.

“To our knowledge, this is the first such publication to document the history of a British football club through coloured archive images and in this case, you get the history of two.”

Dewhirst admits it has been a labour of love involving the painstaking process of not only colouring the images from years gone by but also identifying the subjects in the first place.

“It’s been harder writing this book than anything else I’ve done. Firstly, you’ve got to identify the players and get the captions.

“We’ve been doing it in the background for probably four years. It started off to fill in an existing book and then a couple of years ago we thought, ‘let’s just go for it’.

“There are very few colour photographs of either club before 1970 and certainly nothing pre-war.

But you see people as individuals instead of just being these anonymous, historical figures.

“Photographs have been selected first and foremost on the basis of what is available and achieving parity between the sides is not helped by there being far fewer surviving photographs of Bradford Park Avenue than Bradford City.

“Images have been chosen to portray the flow of history rather than necessarily focus on specific events or personalities. We have also sought to include as many photographs as possible from derby games involving Bradford City and Bradford Park Avenue.

“Our objective has been to commemorate a rivalry that invoked considerable passion and which was a social phenomenon in its own right. The images are also a reminder of the dramatic demise of Bradford’s second club.”

In the pictures featured in the article, Jim Lawlor’s shiny shirt for a testimonial game against Scottish club Airdrieonians in 1957 takes on a sheen under the floodlights at Valley Parade.

In the other image from 1921, new signings Billy Watson, Billy Shaw and Norman Winn pose beneath the balcony that overlooked the Kop from the bottom property on Burlington Terrace.

City invested £9,000 in team strengthening at the time – a massive amount for the club – to establish themselves as the top Bradford club after Park Avenue were relegated.

Further photos with a particular historical relevance have been held back for two more books being planned.

Dewhirst said: “Bradford football is a prisoner of its history which is why the narrative of what happened is relevant and needs to be told.”

Details of how to order the book are available at www.bantamspast.net.