It's very important. The old cliché about those who don't pay attention to history being doomed to repeat it gets trotted out time and again largely because - like all clichés - it has evolved from a basic kernel of truth.
Of course, the saying is almost always used in the context of the history of Great Events™: wars, kings, admirals; you know, the 'important' things, or rather the things deemed to be important by those who have a huge but unacknowledged power in any developed society, namely the people or institutions who decide precisely what history is to be told, and whose prescriptions (and, more importantly, whose proscriptions) shape not so much the past as the future. Historians themselves are often complicit in this, regarding themselves as being as much the gatekeepers of knowledge as any propagandist.
(The biographer Henry Festing Jones once boasted to no less a light than Oscar Wilde that, "not even God can change history!", to which Wilde replied tartly, "No, Jones; only historians can do that.")
But this is all History As Big Subject. What is, to me, truer to the spirit of the whole concept of history is the story of the people who make up the fabled '99 per cent' of our societies; their working lives, their neighbourhoods, how they passed what spare time they may have had. In short, it is the story of all of us, the ones who don't get to write self-justifying memoirs or who have the ulterior motive of having an axe to grind on - or on behalf of - their own pet causes.
As such, although the Histories And Lives Of Great Men may be interesting, it is far more difficult to relate to them and to their subjects because we will find ourselves inevitably at one remove from the action and will have had little contact with the rarified circumstances in which such people have their being. The type of history which tells of the lives of people far more like ourselves live far more vividly for us; either because it speaks to our own experiences, or because we can see what has happened to the places to which we belong down the long ages, or because we can easily imagine ourselves in the positions of the people whose lives are described in them.
One of the great developments in history-as-a-subject during my lifetime has been the growth of groups dedicated to describing and communicating these stories (because all histories are stories at root, even those of the mighty), and of tracking down the sources of information which can show us the paths we have trodden, the places and people we have been. This - having in previous ages been the province solely of antiquarians and clergymen with time on their hands - has become a way in which 'ordinary' people (who are frequently most extraordinary in myriad ways) can make those connections of belonging with the past.
I have always been of the view that one of the tragedies of existence (there are a few) is that when someone dies, all their thoughts, all their experiences, all their memories pass to oblivion with them. Many of those thoughts and memories may be utterly mundane, quotidian things; but a great many of them are not, and they deserve some sort of preservation. Not as mere museum curios, but as signposts back to where they (and we) have been.
And here, my dears, is where I finally come to The Bloody Point.
Regular readers will possibly have seen from, say, this, this and this that I was involved - in varying degrees over a period of years - with Brymbo Steelworks Football Club (as it was then). Having been taken to games when I was a small boy and had no interest in the game, through the degree of fanaticism necessary to spend Saturday afternoons and some evenings taking the collection box around the touchline and mopping up after a couple of dozen muddied oafs, to my final drifting away in disillusionment with the game in general, my association with the club lasted well over twenty years.
Back during the obsessive years, I toyed more than once with the idea of putting together a history of the club whilst some of those who were there at its foundation were still alive. My laziness and lack of self-confidence in such ventures meant, however, that such a project came to nothing.
Now, I'm delighted to say, someone has succeeded in chronicling the club's history, and of the football clubs of Brymbo which preceded it, and of the village's cricket club, which has an even longer and more illustrious pedigree.
Andrew Edwards was for over a decade a broadcast statistician at Manchester United TV. Having been made redundant just over a year ago, and fearing that his interests in statistics and research would find limited outlets elsewhere, it was when he began to volunteer with Brymbo Heritage Group that - due to his love of sport - he was encouraged to put together a small pictorial history of the football and cricket clubs of the village and the Steelworks.
Aided by a number of people (including Yer Judge, who was happy to supply photographs, newspaper clippings, scans of match programmes and other ancillary information), Andrew has now completed the book, which is due for its official launch at Brymbo Sports And Social Club on Saturday 5 September at 1330.
It's a very well put-together work, with 52 pages containing some great photographs, and with information in it which was new even to me. For anyone with an interest in local sport (that is to say, with sport local to here and with the stories of local sports clubs in general), it's well worth getting.
And you can order it by clicking on the picture above, which will take you to the Brymbo Heritage website's ordering page.