THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

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

 

A Riotous Footballing Memoir About the Loneliest Position on the Field
by Graham Joyce
Mainstream, £8.99
Reviewed by Pete Green
From WSC 273 November 2009 

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What do goalkeepers daydream about? What goes through their minds when all the play is down the other end? Simple Goalkeeping Made Spectacular is the true story of a 52-year-old custodian called up to represent England in a Writers’ World Cup in Florence. The story fades into the background, however, as Graham Joyce digresses into matters as diverse as the pre-match huddle, what the six-yard box is for and the efficacy of spraying WD-40 on your osteoarthritic knees.

How the World's Most Famous Athlete Tried to Conquer America
by Grant Wahl
Crown, £16.99
Reviewed by David Stubbs
From WSC 273 November 2009 

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David Beckham’s transfer to LA Galaxy was a surprising late chapter in the adventures of a footballer whose global superstar status exceeds by some distance his admittedly considerable abilities on the pitch. It was a slight return to the mid-1970s and the influx of internationals who chose to spend their sunset years in American soccer – Pelé and George Best among them. They had failed to galvanise interest in the game stateside but, it was optimistically argued, the infrastructure of MLS would enable Beckham to raise the profile and standards of the game more successfully than had his forebears.

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.”

A German’s view of our beautiful game
by Raphael Honigstein
Yellow Jersey, £11.99
Reviewed by Mike Ticher
From WSC 274 December 2009 

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Psychoanalysing national character is “a murky business”, says Raphael Honigstein, a German journalist who has lived in England since 1993. It certainly is, especially when your picture of the nation is a caricature. An unflattering view from an outsider is often unsettling. It can also be refreshing and challenging, but only if the insights are original. Honigstein has absorbed a lot about English football through direct experience and its literature (he leans heavily on David Winner and David Downing), but most of his conclusions seem to me exaggerated, too broad or half-truths, at best.

The Duncan McKenzie Story
by Duncan McKenzie and David Saffer
Vertical Editions, £17.99
Reviewed by Mark O'Brien
From WSC 274 December 2009 

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Duncan McKenzie openly admits that his style of play divided opinions. There were those who saw him as a luxury player, while others considered him the sort of maverick who could unlock defences in an era, the 1970s, when men like Ron Harris and Tommy Smith would emasculate forwards as soon as look at them.

Forty years in the commentary box
Xby John MotsonX
XVirgin, £18.99X
Reviewed by Taylor Parkes
From WSC 274 December 2009 

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If you disregard the alarming cover, on which Motty appears to be offering you outside for a fight, this exhaustive autobiography is more or less what you’d expect. Spanning a gruelling 386 pages – the last 65 just listing the games over which Motson has jabbered and chuckled – at its best it’s warm and charming. At its worst, it’s slightly deranged. Mostly, it’s boring.

by Ossie Ardiles
Bantam Press, £18.99
Reviewed by Adam Powley
From WSC 275 January 2010

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There’s a telling description of Ossie Ardiles that the World Cup winner recounts early on in this suitably idiosyncratic book. His unnamed former manager at Huracán joked: “You know what number you should be wearing? You should be wearing a question mark on your back!” Difficult to tackle on the pitch, Ardiles is similarly elusive to pin down on the page. His intelligence and insight is obvious but the reader is left with only a partial portrait.

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.

The Gerry Hitchens Story
From Mine to Milan
by Simon Goodyear
Breedon, £16.99
Reviewed by Matthew Barker
From WSC 275 January 2010

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William Garbutt
The Father of Italian Football
by Paul Edgerton
Sportsbooks, £7.99
Reviewed by Matthew Barker
From WSC 275 January 2010

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Two books telling the neglected stories of two Englishmen whose reputations and legacies have always been more appreciated in Italy than in their native country. Gerry Hitchens made his name as a striker with Cardiff City and Aston Villa. A goalscoring performance for England against Italy bought him to the attention of Inter and a move to Milan in 1961. After 18 months of mixed success he left for Torino, before moving on to Atalanta and Cagliari. In total he spent eight years in Italy, returning to the UK and Worcester City in 1969. He died in 1983 during an amateur game, aged 48.