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.

 

A Search for the Truth
by Brian Belton

Pennant Books, £16.99
Reviewed by Darron Kirkby
From WSC 254 April 2008 

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In Len Shackleton’s autobiography, a chapter entitled “What the average director knows about football” famously comprised a blank page. Brian Belton, on the other hand, manages to eke more than 270 pages out of Terence Brown’s 15-year tenure as chairman of West Ham United.

The Inside Story
by Harry Harris with Martin Jol
Know the Score, £19.99
Reviewed by Luke Chapman
From WSC 253 March 2008 

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This is one of Harry Harris’s better books. Faint praise in view of the standard of some of his previous efforts, but, in picking over the bones of the Martin Jol era at Tottenham, Harris’s gossipy style is well suited to an omnibus edition of the long-running Spurs soap opera, in which catty politics and melodramatic intrigue are features of the script. Steering a steady course through events, Harris is neither feverishly pro-Jol nor anti-ENIC. Instead, he provides a tour through recent Tottenham history, charting the rumours and machinations, the brief highs and customary setbacks, while offering his “inside view” gleaned from “high level sources”. In fact there’s little that is particularly revelatory to anyone who has followed the story, and much of the sloppily edited material has the unmistakeable mark of filler.

The Globalisation of Football
by John Samuels
Book Guild, £17.99
Reviewed by Roger Titford
From WSC 253 March 2008 

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The author confesses he started out with an analysis of the decline of midlands football but his publishers, seeking returns more global than those encompassed by the Nuneaton-Cannock-Worcester triangle, persuaded him to broaden his scope. He went away and did his reading, but his analysis is not particularly compelling.

Glasgow and Manchester – Two Football Clubs, One Passion
by Frank Worrall
Mainstream, £9.99
Reviewed by Jonathan O'Brien
From WSC 253 March 2008 

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Two bad books mashed into one inedible puree of diametrically opposed flavours, Celtic United is the literary equivalent of one of those garish scarves you see being waved at European fixtures between Celtic and any English side, with half the garment taken up with their name rendered in green and white, and the other half bearing the name of their opponents, usually in red and white.

The Autobiography
by Sir Bobby Charlton

Headline, £7.99

Reviewed by Harry Pearson
From WSC 252 February 2008 

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There was a time during my early childhood when Bobby Charlton was every English boy’s hero, the one who only the finest player on the pitch was allowed to pretend to be. Then along came George Best and suddenly Bobby lost his lustre. He didn’t have long hair (or if he did, only on one side of his head at any rate), he didn’t throw mud at referees, he didn’t run around town in a Jaguar E-type and Chelsea boots. Compared to Best he was boring. And that, pretty much, is where things have remained over the past 40 years: Sir Bobby cast as the lugubrious spinster at football’s wild party.

Football, Faith and Me
by Linvoy Primus with Peter Jeffs
Legendary, £18.99
Reviewed by Matthew Brown
From WSC 252 February 2008 

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The autobiographies of footballers tend to be much the same: the humble beginnings and boyhood dreams, the youth-team triumphs and early rejections, the lower-league obscurity and later successes. This one is no different, tracing the ups and downs of Linvoy Primus’s life story from his east London childhood to rejection by Charlton to the comings and goings of form, injury, managers and team-mates as he slowly moved up the ranks from Barnet to Reading to Portsmouth.

The Andy McLaren Story
by Andy McLaren with Mark Guidi
Mainstream, £9.99
Reviewed by Neil Forsyth
From WSC 252 February 2008 

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A football autobiography that opens with the subject considering suicide then loops back to sexual abuse in childhood is going to be a more demanding read than the standard one you would expect from the genre. For Scottish player Andy McLaren, this book reflects an often calamitous past. As well as the tragic abuse, there is a staggering line of self-destructiveness through a career that should have produced more than a Scottish Cup winner’s medal.

The England Women's Story
by Natalia Sollohub & Catherine Etoe

Tempus, £14.99
Reviewed by Pete Green
From WSC 252 February 2008 

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If women’s football still lacks credibility in the minds of many fans and journalists (of both genders), its advocates can also tend to hinder the cause by suspending their critical faculties. “It was a difficult chance,” pleaded a chivalrous Gavin Peacock during the 2007 World Cup, after England’s Eni Aluko screwed horribly wide of an open goal against Japan. As former players, Natalia Sollohub and Catherine Etoe slip easily into a similar cheerleading role – but readers looking for a basic primer on the England team rather than rigorous punditry will find their book a breezily efficient ­introduction.

The Autobiography
by Barry Davies
Headline, £8.99
Reviewed by Harry Pearson
From WSC 251 January 2008 

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“The Tiber had flowed into the Olympic Stadium and its colour was red.” This description of the 1977 European Cup final could, I think it fair to say, have come from only one man: Barry Davies. It bears all the veteran BBC commentator’s distinctive tics: portentousness and classical allusion are married in a sentence that at first reading seems to make no sense, but which after careful study is discovered to make absolutely no sense whatsoever. That to many people a red Tiber will conjure up images not of Rome and Liverpool, but of Enoch Powell is the collateral damage of his bombast.

Boardroom Truths About The Beautiful Game
by Peter Ridsdale
Macmillan, £18.99
Reviewed by Duncan Young
From WSC 251 January 2008 

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On the face of it, Peter Ridsdale’s account of his life at Leeds – and especially the events that led to him leaving the club – is a hard sell. It’s light on sensational revelations, supporters at his current club, Cardiff City, will have little interest and Leeds fans in general regard him with views ranging between ­disappointment and fury.