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Reviews from When Saturday Comes. If you've liked – or disliked – any of the books, add your comments to those of our reviewers. Follow the link to buy the book from Amazon.

 

Di Stéfano

356 DiStefanoby Ian Hawkey
Ebury Press, £20
Reviewed by Huw Richards
From WSC 356 October 2016

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Shameless clickbaiting though it is to bill “the definitive biography of the greatest footballer that ever lived”, both claims are defensible. Alfredo di Stéfano belongs in the “greatest ever” conversation and Ian Hawkey has put in the hard yards of serious research.

On the subject...

Retired

356 RetiredWhat happens to footballers when the game’s up
by Alan Gernon
Pitch Publishing, £9.99
Reviewed by Tim Springett
From WSC 356 October 2016

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After reading the back cover blurb, where this account of footballers’ lives is described as “the ultimate where are they now”, one is prepared for a horrifying catalogue of alcohol and drug addiction, marriage break-ups, disability, bankruptcy, prison sentences and suicides. Perhaps fortunately, the content doesn’t truly warrant this apocalyptic preview.

On the subject...

Quiet Leadership

356 AncelottiWinning hearts, minds and matches
by Carlo Ancelotti, with Chris Brady and Mike Forde
Portfolio Penguin, £16.99
Reviewed by Ed Wilson
From WSC 356 October 2016

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The authors of this book – Carlo Ancelotti, Chris Brady and Mike Forde – aspire to something more profound than the score-settling, indiscretions and self-justifications of the typical sports memoir. Instead, they hope to offer the general reader an insight into how “an expert practitioner” in “one of the most competitive markets imaginable” can be “instructive for anyone in modern business”. What results is an awkward hybrid that is unlikely to satisfy readers hoping to move up the management chain, or those who are simply interested in the game of football (frequently referred to in this text as “the product”).

Four Lions

356 FourLionsThe lives and times of four captains of England
by Colin Shindler
Head Of Zeus, £18.99
Reviewed by John Earls
From WSC 356 October 2016

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With barely a shrug at Wayne Rooney continuing as captain despite being an increasingly controversial choice for his club side, Cambridge University academic Colin Shindler has chosen an unfortunate time to launch his high-concept social history linking the state of the nation to England’s captains of the era.

Forever Young

355 ForeverYoungThe story of Adrian Doherty, football’s lost genius
by Oliver Kay
Quercus, £20
Reviewed by Joyce Woolridge
From WSC 355 September 2016

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“Attrition rate”: the bland phrase used by a PFA spokesman recently to describe the not so pleasant reality that currently nearly 80 per cent of those entering professional football as “scholars” in academies will be out of the game by the time they are 21.

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Gus Honeybun, Your Boys Took One Hell Of A Beating

355 GusHoneybunA love affair in the lower leagues  
by Simon Carter  
Pitch Publishing, £12.99
Reviewed by Gary Andrews
From WSC 355 September 2016

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Towards the end of Simon Carter’s memoir of his 37 years as an Exeter City supporter, the local sports journalist takes great pains to play down his credentials as a superfan. His enthusiasm for football may wane a little in the later chapters, but with tales of skipping school to travel to watch Halifax and his loathing for Gus Honeybun, a Plymouth Argyle-supporting rabbit that performs birthday bunny hops for children on the regional ITV news, there’s little doubt that Carter is one of those rare breed who is as much a part of the club as the players themselves.

On the subject...

The Sum Of The Parts

355 SumofPartsThe evolution of 
the perfect team
by Jon Keen
Mickle Press, £17.99
Reviewed by Derek Walmsley
From WSC 355 September 2016

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Reading fans have seen precious little silverware in their 145-year history, so their 2005-06 Championship campaign, where they amassed 106 points – a total which, if plans to increase Football League divisions from three to four come to fruition, may never be bettered – has acquired totemic status for supporters. Jon Keen, a founding member of the club’s supporters’ trust, uses that season to survey a crucial chapter in the club’s recent history, running from the 1999 appointment of manager Alan Pardew to his successor Steve Coppell’s departure ten years later, and ponders how an unfashionable provincial team with few stars came to dominate the second flight of English football.

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Rocky

355 RockyThe tears and triumphs of David Rocastle
by James Leighton
Simon & Schuster, £18.99
Reviewed by David Stubbs
From WSC 355 September 2016

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David Rocastle commands enormous affection among Arsenal fans, who have a special fondness for their underachievers; Charlie Nicholas and John Jensen spring to mind also. In Rocastle’s case, he was luckless with injuries over the course of his career and, sadly, suffered the supreme misfortune of dying in 2001 aged just 33 of Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. In the decade he spent at Arsenal, however, he is remembered as a player who on his day was able to conjure flashes of Brazilian-style magic for an Arsenal team whose success was generally earned, under George Graham, through more pragmatic means.

On the subject...

American Huckster

353 HucksterHow Chuck Blazer got rich from – and sold out – the most powerful cabal in world sports  
by Mary Papenfuss & Teri Thompson
HarperCollins, £20
Reviewed by Alan Tomlinson
From WSC 353 July 2016

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Chuck Blazer: the Father Christmas lookalike whose weight had mushroomed to 450lbs by the time the FBI and the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) nobbled him on the Manhattan pavement outside his Trump Tower base in November 2011. This was just under a year after FIFA’s decision to award the next two World Cups to Russia and Qatar, and while a generation of FIFA powerbrokers and crooks was beginning to shatter the silence of a long-held code of omertà.

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Mister

353 MisterThe men who taught the world how to beat England at their own game
by Rory Smith
Simon & Schuster, £18.99
Reviewed by Andy Brassell
From WSC 353 July 2016

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Mister is the story of England’s (and its coaches’) role as a football missionary, spreading the gospel across the continent and beyond until the point when the pupils overtake the master – and keep going until the latter is a mere dot in the distance.

On the subject...


 

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