THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

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.

 

358 Saturday

by Daniel Gray
Bloomsbury Sport, £9.99
Reviewed by Tom Lines
From WSC 358, December 2016
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358 Bayern

by Uli Hesse
Yellow Jersey Press, £14.99
Reviewed by John Van Laer
From WSC 358, December 2016
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357 FearlessThe amazing underdog story of Leicester City, the greatest miracle 
in sports history
by Jonathan Northcroft
Headline, £20
Reviewed by Paul Rees
From WSC 357 November 2016

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The glut of books purporting to analyse Leicester City’s Premier League title triumph has been as inevitable as the 2015-16 domestic season was unpredictable. Relatively, Jonathan Northcroft, a widely respected football writer with the Sunday Times, has taken his time with Fearless.

357 AK86Two shots in the heart of Scottish football
by Grant Hill
Wholepoint, £7.99
Reviewed by Archie MacGregor
From WSC 357 November 2016

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Last day of the season title deciders are invariably occasions when the spectrum of unbridled joy and despair is stretched to the wildest extremes. The denouement of the 1985-86 Premier League campaign however surpasses most in the degree to which it is remembered not only by supporters of the clubs directly involved but also by anyone professing even a passing interest in the Scottish game.

357 HereWeGoEverton in the 1980s
by Simon Hart
De Coubertin Books, £18.99
Reviewed by Jamie Rainbow
From WSC 357 November 2016

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Simon Hart’s book consists of 13 in-depth interviews with many of the key figures that formed Everton’s great team of the 1980s. This period of footballing success for both Liverpool clubs coincided with a turbulent time when football provided a welcome release from the city’s acute economic and social problems. It’s a facile theory perhaps, but one grounded in reality and one the Everton players took at face value. It’s to Hart’s credit that he weaves a poignant narrative through these interviews without succumbing to undue sentimentality.

357 GameChangersInside English football
by Alan Curbishley
Harper Sport, £20
Reviewed by Jon Matthias
From WSC 357 November 2016

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It’s tempting to see this as a cash-in. Alan Curbishley has gone through his contacts book, made a couple of calls and set up some interviews with a mix of big names and people you and I probably won’t have heard of. How many of the interviews he’s done and how many are by his collaborator, freelancer Kevin Brennan, is hard to tell. The bits that are meant to be Curbishley introducing topics are full of cliches such as “in and around” and long run-on sentences that last for paragraphs. So they feel genuine.

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.

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.

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”).

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.