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.

 

by Brian Belton
John Blake, £17.99
Reviewed by David Wangerin
From WSC 256 June 2008 

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We’ll leave it to West Ham fans to decide whether Ade Coker (nine appearances in three seasons), Clive Charles (14 in four) and Clyde Best (174 in seven) represent the “East End Heroes” of the title. But “Stateside Kings”? If anybody associated with America’s egregious pansy sport even approached the status of a sovereign, they certainly weren’t playing for the Boston Minutemen or the Portland Timbers.

The Autobiography
by Tommy Smith

Bantam Press, £18.99

Reviewed by David Stubbs
From WSC 256 June 2008 

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“Anfield Iron” (no sniggering, London readers) is the nickname conferred on the former Liverpool captain who improbably crowned a faltering career in the 1977 European Cup final when he quick-wittedly attached his head to Steve Heighway’s blasted corner and scored the Reds’ second goal. However, although acknowledging his hardness and his willingness to intimidate young wingers by threatening to break their legs, Smith protests that he is a fair player. He was, he says, only cautioned twice in his career (although this has increased to three times by page 394). He was famously suspended for feigning an injury in a Cup-Winners Cup tie against Ferencvaros. However, Smith protests, he was only pretending to go down from a bottle hurled from the crowd having been struck by one minutes earlier, unnoticed. So all was fair, really.

The Lands that FIFA Forgot
by Steve Menary
Know the Score, £16.99

Reviewed by Jonathan Wilson
From WSC 253 March 2008 

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Every country, Henry Kissinger once said, needs an army, a bank and a football team. Many of the countries discussed in Outcasts don’t have an army or a bank. Many aren’t even countries, at least not in the traditional sense. And yet all are desperate for a football team that would somehow give them legitimacy. When Tibet played Greenland in a friendly in Copenhagen, who did not see it as a strike against the Chinese authorities who would deny them statehood? And yet there is a sense in which Greenland are rather more wronged than Tibet, at least in terms of FIFA’s refusal to acknowledge them as a member.

Our George: Family Memoir of George Best
by Barbara Best with Lindy McDowell
Sidgwick & Jackson, £18.99
Reviewed by Joyce Woolridge
From WSC 255 May 2008 

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Memories of George Best
by Christopher Hilton & Ian Cole
Sportsbooks, £14.99

Reviewed by Joyce Woolridge
From WSC 255 May 2008 

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These two very different books share a common theme: how George Best should be remembered, and who should determine how he is remembered. George Best produced four major autobiographies in his lifetime. The last, Blessed, was a serious attempt at putting his side of the story for posterity. In Our George, one of Best’s sisters undertakes to reclaim her brother’s memory on behalf of part of his closest family.

A History of the Corinthian Football Club
by Rob Cavallini
Stadia, £17.99
Reviewed by Harry Pearson
From WSC 255 May 2008 

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Founded in 1882, Corinthian Football Club took their name not from the Greek city-state, but from a word meaning “a man of fashion and pleasure”. And right from the start pleasure was an integral part of the Corinthian ethos, with failure to attend any of the lavish meals presented to the team on their trips around Britain likely to result in a player’s expulsion from the club.

by Alex Gray
Sphere, £11.99
Reviewed by Graham McColl
From WSC 255 May 2008 

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England’s tilt at the 2006 World Cup is still a “live” memory for most football fans: the last hurrah of Sven, Beckham as prima donna, Theo Walcott as team mascot, Joe Cole’s goal against Sweden, Wags dancing on tables and, of course, of Nicko Faulkner, the midfield player, since found stabbed to death in his Glasgow home, and whose obituary in the Gazette states: “He will probably be best remembered for his performance for England in the 2006 World Cup that earned him an England cap.”

The Extraordinary Football Games of Britain
by Hugh Hornby
English Heritage, £16.99
Reviewed by John Turnbull

From WSC 255 May 2008 

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Staring each other down across a rutted meadow in the Scottish Borders as daylight fails, two participants in the 2006 Shrovetide football match in Denholm, Roxburghshire, might be about to re-enact Monty Python’s semaphore-based version of Wuthering Heights. The caption to the photograph on page 131 of Uppies and Downies – the latest publication in the Played in Britain series – explains that this is what the unpredictable cross-country ramble offered at that moment: a game of wits between two men – one Uppie and one Doonie – several hundred yards apart, tramping through field and wood.

Never turn the other cheek

by Pat Crerand

Harper Sport, £18.99

Reviewed by Ashley Shaw
From WSC 254 April 2008 

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You would struggle to find a more optimistic Manchester United pundit than Patrick Crerand. Ever bullish about the club’s prospects and reluctant to criticise the team’s poorest displays, he makes an enthusiastic cheerleader and the perfect summariser for MUTV. The title of his autobiography portrays the subject as an uncompromising Scot unafraid of settling an argument with his fists. Yet throughout it throws up surprises. During an appearance on the Kop to take in a Liverpool match in the 1960s, he and some fellow United players suffer Scouse witticisms but no worse, “a contrast with today’s Liverpool supporter”, he suggests.

The Life and Times of a Football Obsessive
by Rob Grillo
The History Press, £9.99
Reviewed by Pete Green
From WSC 254 April 2008 

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Mainstream culture has reached a peculiar position with regard to knowing things. On BBC1’s The One Show recently, an expert guest prefixed one interesting contribution with the phrase “Sorry to be a nerd, but...” Think about that for a moment: he was invited on to the show specifically to share his knowledge about a particular subject, yet deemed it necessary to apologise for doing so.

The Life, Football and Faith of a Soca Warrior
by Marvin Andrews with Tom Brown
Mainstream, £15.99
Reviewed by Alex Anderson
From WSC 254 April 2008 

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It’s not often you have to read between the lines of the real story to get to the autobiography. If you’ve heard of Marvin Andrews, you’ll know he’s a devout Christian. For him, however, this is all the information you really need. Details of his earthly achievements may eventually wriggle out through the endless evangelical preaching, but they’re merely giving testimony to this book’s real subject: God.