The Real Story of Brian Clough at Leeds United
by Phil Rostron
Mainstream, £12.99
Reviewed by Duncan Young
From WSC 273 November 2009 

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The spine of this book by experienced Leeds United journalist Phil Rostron promises “the real story of Brian Clough at Leeds United”. The title and timing suggest that inside the reader will discover truths that were glossed over by David Peace in his dramatisation of that famously short tenure.

Got To Be There
Part One 1964-1987
by Dave Burnley
Dawber, £10.00
Reviewed by Alan Tomlinson
From WSC 274 December 2009 

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Big Club, Small Town & Me
The epic story of Burnley’s meteoric rise to the Premiership
by Brendan Flood with Stuart Wilkin
TH Media, £9.99
Reviewed by Alan Tomlinson
From WSC 274 December 2009 

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Before and on October 18, 2009, the UK’s sport media focused upon what some called the “cotton-town derby” – Blackburn Rovers versus Burnley – that would establish “bragging rights” in east Lancashire. The two clubs were founder members of the Football League in 1888, but had not met in a top-flight fixture for over 40 years. It was an eerie atmosphere walking to Ewood Park from Lower Darwen, as the blue-and-white of Blackburn dominated the streets, one shirt announcing “Burnley fans eat bananas with their feet”. The 2,800 Burnley supporters were bussed in with a police escort. During this 11-mile journey passengers were abused from the windows of respectable Blackburn residences. On arrival buses were cordoned off by lines of police, preventing any contact with the visiting supporters. “How many of you are on duty for this?” I asked a young policewoman. “All of us... They’ve cancelled everyone’s day off.”

by Mick Kelly
Pennant Books, £9.99
Reviewed by John Carter
From WSC 275 January 2010

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“May you live in interesting times” goes the Chinese saying and Queens Park Rangers supporters certainly do. They’ve had a chairman ambushed at gunpoint, been taken over by a consortium that, temporarily, made them “the richest club in the world” and welcomed seven different managers, all in four years.

by Simon Hughes
Trinity Mirror, £14.99
Reviewed by John Williams
From WSC 275 January 2010

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Bill Shankly once told his captain Tommy Smith: “Managing a football club is like drowning: sublimely peaceful and pleasant once the struggle is over.” Shanks always got a little melancholy as the summer months stretched ahead with no football action. He also said wisely that the most important quality a manager must have is “the natural ability to pick a player”. Many of today’s Liverpool supporters might question the current incumbent on this score.

A Plymouth Argyle Story
by Paul Roberts
The History Press, £14.99
Reviewed by Josh Widdicombe
From WSC 276 February 2010

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When Plymouth recently put forward its bid to become a World Cup city you can bet the word “potential” appeared pretty regularly between the matt-finish covers of its proposal. Plymouth Argyle’s history is scarred with repeated failures to fulfil this somewhat abstract notion, never more gloriously than in the managerial reign of Peter Shilton.

A Clueless American Sportswriter Bumbles Through English Football
by Chuck Culpepper
Weidenfeld & Nicolson, £16.99
Reviewed by David Wangerin
From WSC 249 November 2007 

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The disaffected fan will readily identify with the first eight pages of Chuck Culpepper’s book, a catalogue of much that is wrong with American sport, which the Virginia-born expatriate claims left him afflicted with “Acute Sportswriter Malaise”, the product of “a 14-year career immersed in a vat of drivel, banality and corruption, especially drivel”. His conclusion – “sport sucks, but I’d hate to live without it” – could be a motto for the 21st century.

The Untold Story of Manchester United, 1919-1932
by Justin Blundell
Empire, £10.95
Reviewed by Joyce Woolridge
From WSC 245 July 2007 

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Manchester United’s recent affluence has been built upon two things: a ground that, according to Simon Inglis, has enjoyed one of the most “unhampered situations” of any major English stadium and two modern periods of success, under Matt Busby then Alex Ferguson. However, the move to Old Trafford in 1910, though it began auspiciously with the winning of United’s second title the following season, came close to putting the club out of business. It was poor timing to build a £60,000 stadium just before the outbreak of the First World War and the subsequent suspension of League football, though the wealthy brewer, John Davies, who undertook the relocation could hardly have known what lay in store.

Trouble and takeover at the world’s richest football club
by Mihir Bose
Aurum Press, £18.99
Reviewed by Adam Brown
From WSC 244 June 2007 

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The spate of foreign businessmen buying English clubs has received little serious attention from the nation’s hacks who seem to regard the process in the same way that a child looks at a glittery bauble on a Christmas tree. Bose, now the BBC’s sports editor, should be congratulated for providing this incredibly detailed account of the failed BSkyB bid to buy Manchester United in 1999 and the successful Glazer family takeover in 2005.

The Club That Wouldn’t Die
by Phil Whalley
SportsBooks, £16.99
Reviewed by Martin Atherton
From WSC 241 March 2007

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In one of football’s regular bizarre coincidences, when Oxford United were relegated from the Football League in 2006, they were replaced by Accrington Stanley. Stanley were the club whose place Oxford had taken following the former’s resignation from the League in 1962 due to financial difficulties. There was no club, no team and no ground by 1963, but Phil Whalley’s book tells the remarkable story of the resurrection of Stanley and their long and often fraught climb back to the top.

A Football History
by Gary James
James Ward, £21.95

Reviewed by Joyce Woolridge
From WSC 258 August 2008 

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Gary James’s ambitious aim is to tell the history of football in the Manchester area and thereby establish its importance to the city and its environs. The game was banned there 400 years ago because the inhabitants had been “greatly wronged... by a company of lewd and disordered persons... breaking many men’s glass windows at their pleasures and other great enormities”. As James points out, the authorities have not always been sensible of the myriad benefits of what became the region’s favourite pastime. You can hear James’s exasperation as he writes: “It says much about how the early history of football has been viewed in Manchester that the only plaque commemorating the history of [Manchester] City is actually incorrectly positioned.”

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