THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

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

 

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.

by Davie Hay
Black & White, £17.99
Reviewed by Graham McColl
From WSC 276 February 2010

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One of the “Lisbon Lion cubs” groomed to replace Celtic’s European Cup winners, Davie Hay’s three departures from Celtic Park were almost as significant as his achievements there. Eased out to Chelsea in 1974 after going on strike, in 1987 he became the first Celtic manager to be sacked and was sacked again, when assistant general manager, during the club’s turbulent 1990s rebirth.

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.

50 Great Cup Upsets
by Derek Watts
Book Guild, £12.99
Reviewed by Terry Staunton
From WSC 276 February 2010

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The return of a certain country of perceived footballing minnows to the world stage this summer is likely to trigger some dewy-eyed reminiscences in the north-east of England. Bizarre as it may sound to younger fans, there is a corner of Middlesbrough that is forever North Korea.

by Steve Pitts
Pennant Books, £9.99
Reviewed by Pete Green
From WSC 276 February 2010

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As with Pete Doherty, Kerry Katona and Amy Winehouse, so with Paul Gascoigne: the same hypocritical combination of moral outrage and rubber-necking guarantees sales each time their descent lights up the front pages. From the national institution status of 1990, of course, Gazza had further to fall than anyone – all the way to Kettering Town, where he fetched up in 2005, installed as celebrity manager by incoming 20-something chairman Imraan Ladak and sacked eight games later, accused of almost daily indiscretions as the drinking continued.

by Mark Hodkinson
Pomona, £9.99
Reviewed by Harry Pearson
From WSC 242 Apr 07

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Mark Hodkinson’s funny and poignant new book is a deftly written account of coming of age in a scruffy north-of-England town, Rochdale – “built to be rained upon or swathed in mist, joyous in a sulk” – in which football plays its part, not in any particularly pivotal way but simply as part of the fabric of growing up.

The inside story of Clough’s Derby days
by George Edwards
Tempus, £12.99
Reviewed by Terry Staunton
From WSC 250 December 2007

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Brian Clough was football’s first great multi-media star, an endlessly quotable mouthpiece whose fame and notoriety stretched far beyond the sport itself. He was a constant subject/target for TV impressionists, and his profile was so high that he was an obvious and welcome guest on Parkinson at a time when the show was awash with A-listers of the calibre of Robert Mitchum and Orson Welles.

The Biography
by Joel Miller
John Blake, £17.99
Reviewed by Paul Doyle
From WSC 247 September 2007 

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Good things about this book include: the high standard of spelling; functionally correct grammar; and the fact that if you dropped it from a great height on to the head of the person who recommended it to you, it would do serious damage. Beyond that, the highest praise you could give it is that it reads like an extended Wikipedia entry, a broadly efficient collation of information already in the public domain. If you think that makes it worth almost 18 of your English pounds, then you presumably pay for WSC with wheelbarrows of gold. Well done.

The Autobiography

Norman Whiteside
Headline, £18.99
Reviewed by Joyce Woolridge
From WSC 249 November 2007 

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It’s June 1991, and Norman Whiteside won’t get out of bed. His fearless attitude on the pitch inspired a Manchester United fanzine, The Shankhill Skinhead, but he spends his “bed-in” crying, unable to come to terms with the reality that he is finished as a footballer at 26. So begins Determined, his autobiography, and he spares readers none of the harrowing details as he traces how a series of medical decisions, made in good faith and often the standard treatment then available, had, as he puts it, “done for him” by the time he was 18. By that tender age he is unable to rotate his hips, giving him his trademark robotic-style run, has lost his pace, and has a knee in which bone grinds against bone. Chips will henceforth regularly flake off into the joint, causing excruciating pain, swelling it up to the size of a swede, necessitating further surgery. Injuries used to be discussed in macho style in football autobiographies, an inevitable consequence of a man’s game, the honourable scars of battle. The recent trend of revealing the pain, both physical and mental, of professional football is refreshing and welcome, if often difficult to read without wincing.

The Remarkable Life and Death of Leigh Richmond Roose, Football's First Play Boy
by Spencer Vignes
Tempus, £9.99
Reviewed by Harry Pearson
From WSC 249 November 2007 

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While those with even a passing interest in cricket can probably name a dozen Edwardian players without recourse to Wisden, I suspect that even the die-hard football fan finds the era before the First World War a good deal less familiar. Because while cricket regards the years that spawned Frank Woolley, Jack Hobbs and Victor Trumper as its “golden age”, to most people football doesn’t really seem to get going until the 1930s.