THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

Reviews from When Saturday Comes. Follow the link to buy the book from Amazon.

 

350 FarrellFootball between 
the lines
by David Farrell
Teckle Books, £9.99
Reviewed by Neil Andrews
From WSC 350 April 2016

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There’s a scene in Dad’s Army that neatly sums up David Farrell’s football career. In the midst of a rant about class warfare, Captain Mainwaring informs Sergeant Wilson that he had to “fight like hell” to get into grammar school and “fight even harder to stay there”. It is a sentiment Farrell can empathise with in his dogged determination not only to become a professional footballer but remain one, despite a crumbling left foot and a run of very bad luck.

350 CahillThe autobiography 
of Tim Cahill
by Tim Cahill
HarperSport, £18.99
Reviewed by Jamie Rainbow
From WSC 350 April 2016

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When Tim Cahill’s contract with Shanghai Shenhua was terminated, a number of A-League clubs approached the midfielder offering him the chance to finish his playing career in Australia. But, as he reveals in Legacy, he’d already snubbed an earlier return to his homeland for commercial reasons. The 36-year-old, fast approaching the end of his playing career, was already thinking about life after football. Or, to use Cahill’s own slightly nausea-inducing phrase, he had to “strategize as a businessman”.

350 BuryHow Bury triumphed 
in British football’s worst year
by James Bentley
SilverWood Books, £14.99
Reviewed by Charles Morris
From WSC 350 April 2016

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The story of how a hard-up Fourth Division club succeeded against the odds and won promotion in 1984-85 using just 15 players has immediate appeal to fans of smaller clubs. The underdog theme also chimes with the present, as Leicester, Bournemouth and Burton confound expectations this season. The tale’s backdrop is compelling, too, because 1984-85 was a nadir for British football, a period besmirched by appalling hooliganism and the tragedies of the Bradford fire and the Heysel stadium.

349 Dugout400Football at the 
sharp end
by Richard Gordon
Black and White, £9.99
Reviewed by Gordon Cairns
From WSC 349 March 2016

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“Tales From The Technical Area” may have been a more pleasingly alliterative title, but the stories author Richard Gordon elicits from his subjects are generally of the more humble variety; summoning the sense of a damp bus shelter rather than a Perspex conservatory. The author is better known as the reasonable anchor man on Radio Scotland’s Sportsound among more excitable colleagues. Drawing on these radio connections he has amassed 48 interviews with a range of figures in the Scottish game. What is refreshing is that stories about Celtic and Rangers are minimal, allowing backroom staff and managers from smaller teams to tell their tales with a remarkable degree of candour.

349 Ronaldo400by Guillem Balague
Orion, £20
Reviewed by Joyce Woolridge
From WSC 349 March 2016

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Throughout the 350 and more pages of his “definitive” biography of Madeira’s finest player, Guillem Balague never runs out of steam or ways in which to point out that his subject is insecure, selfish, self-obsessed and immature. You don’t need to call in Freud to understand Balague’s negativity, just the 18-page prologue which demonstrates how miffed the author is not to have the sort of co-operation given by Lionel Messi in a previous biographical outing.

349 fling400Could Oxford United really steal the heart of a Manchester City fanatic?
by Steve Mingle
Pitch Publishing, £12.99
Reviewed by Piers Pennington
From WSC 349 March 2016

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The subtitle of this book – Could Oxford United really steal the heart of a Manchester City fanatic? – poses a question I have been wrestling with for more than 50 years. I looked forward to reading an account of what it felt like to have divided loyalties in a part of your life where devotion is meant to be wholehearted and unequivocal. A fellow sufferer, and the same two teams.

349 Currie400The life and career 
of Tony Currie
by EJ Huntley
Pitch Publishing, £12.99
Reviewed by David Stubbs
From WSC 349 March 2016

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There’s a strange fascination about Tony Currie that runs in parallel with the late David Bowie, or even the school of provocatively effeminate wrestlers of the early 1970s such as Adrian Street – glam Englishmen whose apparent purpose was to raise the hackles of a more stolid, crewcut older generation with their flamboyant, long-haired antics.

348 Latchfordby Bob Latchford      
deCoubertin Books, £20
Reviewed by Mark O’Brien
From WSC 348 February 2016

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Perhaps to its detriment, but thoroughly in keeping with its subject, Bob Latchford’s thoughtful, detailed autobiography shies away from drama and sensationalism and tells the story of a modest, unassuming Birmingham boy who became the most expensive player in British football.

348 Shankly400The extraordinary life and times of Glenbuck and its famous sons
by Adam Powley and Robert Gillan
Pitch Publishing, £18.99
Reviewed by Graham McColl
From WSC 348 February 2016

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With the Scottish football landscape currently ravaged almost beyond repair and Gordon Strachan, our jokey, England-based national-team manager telling us that Ikechi Anya and Scott Brown are talents to be reckoned with, it seems timely to be transported back to the village of Glenbuck. This was Bill Shankly’s childhood home and one that symbolises a footballing epoch – a century or so from the late Victorian era to the late 20th century – when Scotland produced reams of talented players from tight-knit working-class towns and villages, united by dangerous work in industry and an obsession with football.

348 HandofGod400by Philip Kerr
Head of Zeus, £7.99
Reviewed by Huw Richards
From WSC 348 February 2016

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Fiction with a sporting setting is notoriously variable in quality. Binary win-lose outcomes reduce the scope for ambiguity and authors may either be poor writers or under-informed. Philip Kerr sidesteps all of these traps with ease. His fictional club, London City, provides the context for crime rather than a narrative end in itself.