When the book came out in the summer of 2021 there were many individual biographies which corrected the 'established wisdom' about player dates, so I was prepared for challenges and queries. A few came along, but in each case I was able to demonstrate that my research was correct. Until now.
I had an email last week from Martin Donnelly, an assiduous researcher who has been tracking down the graves of footballers. He had just found the final resting place of Archie Ritchie, a Scotland internationalist in 1891 while playing for East Stirlingshire and an FA Cup winner with Nottingham Forest in 1898.
As soon as I heard this, I checked my research notes and I can only say I can't have done my job properly in following through his assumed date of birth by comparing it with later records. I found that the Archibald Ritchie born in Kirkcaldy in 1872 could not have been the footballer, as he died aged just 11 weeks of smallpox.
However, there were no records for an 1869 birth under that name. It took further investigation to get at the truth, which was more complicated than expected as the date on his gravestone also turned out to be wrong.
The Ritchieson family soon moved to Bainsford, a suburb of Falkirk, where there appears to be a gradual change in the surname as they were recorded in the 1871 census as Ritchie, in 1881 as Richardson, and back to Ritchie for 1891.
1891 was also the year that Ritchie was capped by Scotland, aged 22 rather than 18 as previously thought. He had spent five years with East Stirlingshire by this time, helping them become the top team in the area, and on the back of his international status he turned professional with Nottingham Forest.
Ritchie went straight into the first team where he developed a fine partnership at full back with Adam Scott, and they remained at the heart of the Forest defence for most of the decade, famously winning the FA Cup in 1898 by beating favourites Derby County 3-1 at the Crystal Palace.
One other thing I found about Archie Ritchie which was new to me was that in August 1897, at the peak of his football career, he was sentenced to 21 days in prison for intimidating a strike-breaker in Nottingham.
I have amended my Who's Who for future purchasers, and can only apologise to those who have already bought the book. It may just be one wrong date of birth among 615 internationalists, but I am intensely annoyed to have found this error. However, nobody is immune from this kind of thing and, as the old adage goes, 'the man who never made mistakes, never made anything'.
Archibald Ritchie. Born 21 October 1868 at Kellie Bank, Alloa, Clackmannan. Died 18 January 1932 at Greyfriar Gate, Nottingham. One cap for Scotland, v Wales on 21 March 1891 at Wrexham.
NB a few typos in the book have been corrected over the past year, mostly minor grammar or spelling issues.
However, two key dates for the 1872 Scotland 'originals' have been updated:
For James Smith, I mistyped his date of death as 26 September 1876 when it should read 20 September 1876.
For James B Weir, the date I quoted (23 November 1851) was his baptism, whereas his correct birth date was 21 October 1851.