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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.

 

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.

On the subject...

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.

On the subject...

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.

On the subject...

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...

When We Were Lions

353 LionsEuro 96 and the last great British summer
by Paul Rees
Aurum, £18.99
Reviewed by Si Hawkins
From WSC 353 July 2016

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There’s something oddly masochistic about our ongoing desire to wallow, at length, in massive disappointments. This book may well be one too, for those attracted by the title: 311 pages long, its Euro 96 coverage ends on page 189, which may come as a surprise. But then When We Were Lions isn’t strictly a football book.

On the subject...

Hillsborough Voices

353 HillsboroughThe real story told by the people themselves
by Kevin Sampson
Ebury Press, £12.99
Reviewed by Rob Hughes
From WSC 353 July 2016

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There are many horrific disclosures in the testimonies that make up this essential book. But perhaps the most shocking is that, of the 96 people who died at Hillsborough, as many as 58 could have survived had the correct medical procedures been in place. It’s a statistic that campaigner Sheila Coleman calls “obscene”. Compiled by Awaydays author Kevin Sampson in association with the Hillsborough Justice Campaign, Hillsborough Voices offers an unflinching account of the events of April 15, 1989 and its aftermath, from those who were there, those left bereaved and those who subsequently devoted their energies to the long struggle for truth and justice.

On the subject...

Boys Of 66

352 BoysThe unseen story behind England’s World Cup glory
by John Rowlinson
Virgin Books, £20
Reviewed by David Stubbs
From WSC 352 June 2016

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One of the recurring themes of this volume to commemorate the 50th anniversary of England’s sole international triumph is how relatively little was made of it at the time. Kenneth Wolstenholme’s famous “They think it’s all over; it is now” line epitomises the phlegmatic, English reserve that prevented too much of the sort of histrionic reaction that would prevail nowadays. Were England to win the World Cup today, you suspect Jonathan Pearce’s head would, literally, explode. Not then.

On the subject...

Eibar The Brave

352 EibarThe extraordinary rise of La Liga’s smallest team
by Euan McTear
Pitch Publishing, £9.99
Reviewed by Phil Ball
From WSC 352 June 2016

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The Eibar story is de facto a wonderful one, easy pickings for a half-decent author. Euan McTear, an ardent young blogger now resident in Belfast, had dabbled with journalism in Scotland and then spent time in Barcelona, using his residency there as the springboard for documenting Eibar’s maiden season in Spain’s top flight. McTear goes on to demonstrate with unbridled affection the vicissitudes of his adopted club’s foray into the limelight, and although the book was published with somewhat indecent haste (three months after the conclusion of the 2014-15 season), the rookie author comes over as genuine.

On the subject...


 

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