THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

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

 

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

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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 

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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 

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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 

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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 

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“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 

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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 

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“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 

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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.

The Biography of Joe Cole
by Ian Macleay
John Blake, £17.99
Reviewed by Taylor Parkes
From WSC 245 July 2007 

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No, I couldn’t believe the title either. Another lavishly packaged quickie, Cole Play is predictably bland and impossibly turgid. It’s not that badly written – unlike most football-themed hack product, you would feel safe handing this in as English Language GCSE coursework – but it is so boring, so terribly uninspiring, like a book that’s played under José Mourinho for three years. There are no secrets here, no fresh perspectives, yet it runs to a whopping 310 pages, of which 309, at least, are entirely forgettable. Cole Play may not give short weight, but it’s topped up with a lot of ballast.

A Global History of Football
by David Goldblatt
Penguin/Viking, £30
Reviewed by Steve Roser
From WSC 245 July 2007 

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David Goldblatt’s new book weighs in at 3lb 8oz – three-and-a-half times the regulation ball weight established in the first revision of the laws of the game in 1872, but probably about the same mass as the sodden leather bladder that Nat Lofthouse used to head home. Very little has changed in the size and weight of the ball since then (an odd ounce in 1937), although technology, fashion and utility mean the modern ball is a different beast. In many ways the attraction of football is the enduring simplicity and coherence of the laws echoing those governing the ball, and the room that leaves for self-expression on a personal and team level. Goldblatt draws together all aspects of the game’s development into a terrific set of stories and insights, from tiny detail to sweeping generalisation, that well repays the potential upper body strain of lifting the thing.