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.

 

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.

My Story
by Alan Rough with Neil Drysdale
Headline, £18.99
Reviewed by Archie MacGregor
From WSC 241 March 2007 

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The real disaster of Scotland’s 1978 World Cup campaign was, of course, Alan Rough’s haircut. If beforehand you had somehow missed all the other tell-tale signs that the Argentina adventure was steering a steady course towards an apocalyptic implosion of the preposterous and pure vaudeville slap-stick, then Roughie’s perm ought to have been the final giveaway. While there could be grounds for speculating that its true impact on the South American continent only emerged some years later when Colombia’s Carlos Valderrama began strutting his bouffant on the world stage, for most Scots it ranks alongside dear old Ally MacLeod clutching his head in his hands as one of the more shuddering flashbacks of that most ­surreal tournament.

Man and Bhoy
by Neil Lennon with Martin Hannon
Harper Sport, £17.99
Reviewed by Robbie Meredith
From WSC 241 March 2007 

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Irish footballers have been among the most prominent exponents of the mea culpa sports autobiography in recent years. Tony Cascarino and Paul McGrath have produced open and apologetic works detailing personal failure, far in tone from the bland self-justification inherent in most of the genre.

My Story
by Tommy Docherty with Les Scott
Headline, £18.99
Reviewed by Joyce Woolridge
From WSC 240 February 2007 

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In these times, when making a few appearances for a Premiership club and being caught brawling outside a lap-dancing club is deemed enough for a three-book deal, Tommy Docherty’s weighty life serves as a salutary counter to such instant celebrity. This is a genuine autobiography, covering in detail his hard but respectable upbringing in a Glasgow tenement, his playing days as an uncompromising but skilful and accomplished wing-half for Preston and Arsenal, and his eventful managerial career at club and international level. Social change and the transformation of the status of footballers probably mean that future autobiographies can never have such depth of interest, replacing stories of early privation and struggle with 300 pages about the contents of their garages, address books and wardrobes.

by Shaun Goater with David Clayton
Sutton, £17.99
Reviewed by Ian Farrell
From WSC 240 February 2007 

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Even by the pitifully low standards of footballers’ autobiographies, the idiocy, rampant arrogance, incredible greed and delusions of persecution on show in certain recent examples have been truly demoralising. With this in mind, the timing couldn’t be better for a salt-of-the-earth journeyman to restore our faith and show the way forward with humility and good humour. Feed the Goat is halfway there.

My Story
by Perry Groves with John McShane
John Blake, £17.99
Reviewed by Jon Spurling
From WSC 240 February 2007 

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As Arsenal’s new age breed of teetotal, sinewy robots dazzle opponents with the speed and accuracy of their passing game, George Graham’s functional but highly successful collection of home-grown Englishmen and rising lower-league stars belong to a bygone era. In the 14 years since his departure from Highbury, Groves, a £75,000 snip from Colchester, has been granted cult-­figure status. In the (frequent) long silences at home games, the “We all live in a Perry Groves world” chant – sung to the tune of Yellow Submarine – is occasionally aired, and there are two websites dedicated to Graham’s first Arsenal signing. In recent weeks, there has been a concerted campaign by numerous Arsenal sites to ensure that Groves’ tome outsells Ashley Cole’s autobiography; a battle which is being won fairly comfortably.

The Autobiography
by John Hartson with Alex Montgomery
Orion, £17.99
Reviewed by Graham McColl
From WSC 240 February 2007 

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Flicking the picture section of this book is a bit like watching the Incredible Hulk expand to the point where his clothes burst from his body. John Hartson arrived in top-flight football just as players were starting to pay greater attention to diet and Hartson, too, was always keen to do so. Awaiting, nervously, an ultimately unsuccessful fitness test with Glasgow Rangers in 2000, he relaxes in a smart restaurant in Glasgow’s West End. “I was so hungry I had four portions just to fill me up.”

Setting The Record Straight
by Peter Swan with Nick Johnson
Stadia, £17.99
Reviewed by Harry Pearson
From WSC 239 January 2007 

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It is the misfortune of some professional footballers to have their entire careers defined in the public mind by one terrible mistake. The glaring miss in a cup final, a blundering attempt to deal with a weak shot, or an idiotic injury are sometimes all we recall of men who played hundreds of games at the top level. Peter Swan is one such player, though his error was of a slightly different sort. In December 1962 he and Sheffield Wednesday team-mates Tony Kay and David Layne placed bets on Ipswich Town to win when the two teams met at Portman Road. Two years later, following a tabloid exposé of match-rigging and a police investigation, Mansfield Crown Court sent Swan – who pleaded not guilty – to jail for four months and fined him £100. The Football Association, meanwhile, banned him from the game for life (the ban was eventually lifted in 1972).

The Autobiography
by Alan Mullery with Tony Norman
Headline, £18.99
Reviewed by Adam Powley
From WSC 239 January 2007 

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“Outspoken, controversial and entertaining”: so say the publishers in hyping the memoirs of Alan Mullery, adding the titillating prospect of naked blondes in hotels and “every human emotion”. Perhaps the current trend for football biogs replete with tales of mega-bungs, bling and bedroom antics has skewed the biographical template, but there’s little need for the Heat-style hard sell here.

by Paul McGrath
Century, £18.99
Reviewed by Peter Daly
From WSC 239 January 2007 

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When Paul McGrath was 19, he embarked on “a journey of unimaginable strangeness” that lasted almost a year. He did so without leaving his hospital bed. In fact, he did so almost without moving a muscle – it was a psychological voyage, see, during which a confused and frightened McGrath lay for so long with his legs locked tensely together that he would suffer from knee pains for ever more. That’s just one of the reasons it’s amazing he went on to have a football career, let alone a glorious one.