THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

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

 

The Forgotten Truth of Gary Sprake
by Stuart Sprake & Tim Johnson
Tempus, £9.99
Reviewed by Huw Richards
From WSC 248 October 2007 

Buy this book

 


Some decent sporting careers are damned by a single error. Bill Buckner, a just-this-side-of-great baseball player, has for 21 years been defined by the fielding error that extended the Boston Red Sox’s interminable wait to win a World Series. Gordon Smith will have to make one heck of a splash running the Scottish FA to efface memories of his miss in the 1983 FA Cup final. Such judgments are often undeserved, however, and the authors here aim to prove that Gary Sprake, Stuart’s uncle, merited better.

My Story
by Neil Warnock
Hodder & Stoughton, £18.99
Reviewed by Pete Green
From WSC 248 October 2007 

Buy this book

 


Neil Warnock should be more popular. Sure, you wouldn’t want to watch his players lamping the ball up to the big man every week, but his moaning about referees is far from unique and, in an age when distinctiveness is at a premium among managers, Warnock stands out as one of very few with a personality rather than a checklist of banalities. When most football autobiographies seem as achingly dull as their authors’ TV interviews, then, Made in Sheffield ought to shine out as Warnock lays into his long list of adversaries.

by Margaret Potts & Dave Thomas
SportsBooks, £17.99
Reviewed by Alan Tomlinson
From WSC 247 September 2007 

Buy this book

 


Harry Potts played for and managed Burnley in some of their most successful periods from the late 1940s to the late 1960s, and again in some less successful times in the 1970s. This book combines the memoir of his wife, Margaret, with the broader context portrayed by writer Dave Thomas. It is an engaging book, a richly illustrated portrait of a time and culture a million miles away from the excesses of the post-1992 English football elite.

The Uncut Story of a Football Genius
by Daniel Taylor
Aurum Press, £16.99
Reviewed by Ashley Shaw
From WSC 247 September 2007 

Buy this book

 


Daniel Taylor of the Guardian has penned a diary of the last two seasons at Manchester United from a pressman’s point of view. Rarely have two seasons brought such contrasting fortunes – after the loss of Ruud van Nistelrooy and Roy Keane in the first, most writers predicted United would struggle in the second, only for Alex Ferguson to turn the tables spectacularly with a title win that earned the astonished admiration of fans, players and journalists.

The Biography of Jimmy Johnstone
by Jim Black
Sphere, £18.99
Reviewed by Graham McColl
From WSC 247 September 2007 

Buy this book

 


The post-football fate of Jimmy Johnstone is one of the best arguments that can be mustered in favour of the super-inflated salaries of today’s footballers. He was voted the greatest ever Celtic player in 2002, yet for the previous two decades, after finishing with football as a player, he had found himself skint and, as outlined here, spent that period meandering unsatisfyingly through various menial jobs. These included three years as a manual labourer and, irony of ironies, a spell as a satellite-dish salesman, purveying the very piece of equipment that has made today’s players rich beyond Jimmy’s wildest dreams.

The Making of The League 1886-1889
by Thomas Law
Desert Island Books, £16.99
Reviewed by Harry Pearson
From WSC 244 June 2007 

Buy this book

 


For this reviewer the only disappointing thing about Football’s Twelve Apostles was that it slid through the letterbox during the hottest April for centuries. If ever there was a book that ought to be savoured in an armchair by a roaring fire (possibly with the accompaniment of port and pickled walnuts) it is this one.

The Toughest Job in Football
by Brian Glanville
Headline, £18.99
Reviewed by Harry Pearson
From WSC 246 August 2007 

Buy this book

 


“I didn’t see any reaction in the team. That was the thing that left me amazed; there wasn’t the rage you expect from an England team that’s losing.” So said Fabio Capello after watching Bobby Robson’s team thrashed humiliatingly by Holland at Euro 88.

The Story of a Goalkeeping Legend
by Mike Blake
NPI Media, £14.99
Reviewed by Tom Green
From WSC 246 August 2007 

Buy this book

 


Every club has its legends. In modern times the player most loved by Charlton fans has been Derek “Killer” Hales, a man whose fighting spirit came to epitomise the Addicks’ struggle to survive. For the previous generation, however, the undisputed hero was goalkeeper Sam Bartram.

The Way It Is
by Wayne Rooney
Harper Collins, £8.99
Reviewed by Mark O’Brien
From WSC 246 August 2007 

Buy this book

 


“Coleen bought me an Aston Martin from her own money. It was a birthday present that she gave me before the big day. On my actually birthday she gave me a Jacob watch, inscribed with my name and date of birth. I love watches.” And so on, and so forth. Who on earth is this actually aimed at? It’s not an autobiography; it is a prospectus for Paul Stretford’s Proactive Sports Management Ltd. It’s also an insult to the intelligence of the reader, although quite frankly anyone who buys it after seeing Rooney posing on the cover wearing a Coca-Cola T-shirt – he has a contract with them – probably hasn’t got that much grey matter to offend.

The Story Of A Legend
by Tom Oldfield
John Blake, £17.99
Reviewed by Jonathan O’Brien
From WSC 246 August 2007 

Buy this book

 


Gary Neville is sometimes described as a throwback to a simpler, financially poorer, more sepia-toned generation of footballers, what with all the “union man” stuff, the 15-year stay at one club and the general tidy efficiency of his play. What gets mentioned less frequently, though, is that thing on his top lip, a slimline version of the kind of soup-strainer you used to see adorning the faces of Liverpool players 30 years ago. Visually, if nothing else, he belongs to a bygone age.