For their 1963-64 football issue, English cardmakers A&BC licensed a previously-developed Topps baseball design (much like they did with their 1960-61 release – one can’t fault their taste.) The familiar wood-grained layout of 1962 was laterally-reversed and a different grain-pattern chosen, but the lineage of the cards is immediately apparent.
(In looking at these, I’d originally attributed the odd grain to a lousy printing process. It’s actually showing a much more complex grain. No idea why they’d switch as it’s harder to reproduce.)
Unlike 1960-61, where the cards are identically-sized to the Topps set, these cards are small. I think they’re only 2X3. The printing is a bit iffy. The backs once again have a rub-off area – this time hiding an image – as well as a small write-up of the player. No real stats on most of the cards.
This particular card would have been an interesting one to get in 1963 as Eastham was busy becoming football’s version of Curt Flood. Eastham had tried to force a transfer out of Newcastle in 1959 and had left the team when they refused. He was dealt to Arsenal for 1960, but continued to press his case and filed suit in 1963. The verdict was rendered in 1964 and while Eastham didn’t gain anything financially out of it, the football version of the reserve clause was struck down enough that player freedom and mobility was greatly enhanced. A fuller version of this story is here.
Eastham would play for Arsenal through 1966 before a transfer to Stoke.
As always, Nigel’s web site is a great football resource.
The 1963 A&BC doesn’t work as well as it did for the 1962 baseball cards. Maybe its the smaller size, or maybe the fine grain. Either way, its not as good looking as the later Topps soccer cards.
The 1963 A&BC is also absent of several star players – a year too early for George Best and alan Ball, and missing Stan Matthews.
I’d never seen these either, very cool!