THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

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

 

The Story Behind the Legend
by Clive Youlton
Stadia, £12.99
Reviewed by Simon Bell
From WSC 243 May 2007 

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Geoff Chapple never took charge of a League team. His managerial career never extended beyond the Conference and, although he saw his teams win five times at Wembley, they did so not in the FA Cup but in the FA Trophy, with the ground at best a quarter full. At first glance, then, an odd subject for a biography, let alone one that bears the startling subtitle “The Story Behind the Legend”.

The Unknown Story of Britain’s Greatest Sportsman
by Mick Collins
Aurum Press, £14.99
Reviewed by Ian Farrell
From WSC 243 May 2007 

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Living in an age when sporting versatility means being able to answer one of Sue Barker’s tricky “away” questions, the fact that Ian Botham once had a few run-outs for Scunthorpe seems extremely impressive to me. That Denis Compton won the FA Cup with Arsenal verges on the surreal. But even Compton starts to seem hopelessly limited after reading Mick Collins’s excellent ­biography of Max Woosnam: captain of his country in both football and tennis, Olympic gold medallist, scratch golfer and Lord’s centurion. Applying the word “genius” to sportsmen is always contentious, but rarely has the term “all rounder” been better deserved.

The Story of Keith Houchen
by Jonathan Strange
Tempus, £14.99
Reviewed by David Jenkins
From WSC 242 April 2007 

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Just as – to quote Monty Python – strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government, so, one might think, one diving header in an FA Cup final is surely no justification for a biography.

Football’s Flamboyant Maestro
by Jethro Soutar
Robson, £9.99
Reviewed by Barney Ronay
From WSC 242 April 2007 

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“The importance of Ronaldinho’s aura, his grace and charisma, cannot be overstated,” writes Jethro Soutar halfway through this meticulous 90,000-word exercise in doing just that. Immaculately put together and perkily written, the only thing the book lacks is any kind of analysis of its subject to go alongside all the facts. Surprisingly, given its unofficial nature, there’s no room here for Ronaldinho as anything but permanently smiling super athlete, a sporting brand defined by his umbilical, and highly marketable, link to the common myth-kitty of Brazilian football greatness. This is a shame because, as far as it goes, this is an energetic and comprehensive biography.

Football’s Tabloid Tales
by Harry Harris
Know The Score, £16.99
Reviewed by Luke Chapman
From WSC 242 April 2007 

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Pressured by demanding editors, mistrusted by professionals and loathed by some readers, tabloid football journalists require rhino-thick skins. And skins surely cannot be much more impervious than the hide of ace newshound Harry Harris. So he probably won’t mind the view that his 36th football book is arguably his worst yet. Not enough insight into the sports hack’s trade and too much ­name‑dropping make this an exemplar of how football is in thrall to the rich and powerful.

My Story
by Graeme Sharp
Mainstream, £16.99
Reviewed by Mark O'Brien
From WSC 241 March 2007 

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Because his international career with Scotland was relatively limited and the period in which he won domestic honours was fairly short, non-Evertonians probably know very little about Graeme Sharp. Indeed, if they were asked to name a striker from the mid-Eighties glory days at Goodison, they would probably be more likely to go for Andy Gray or one-­season wonder Gary Lineker.

The Club That Wouldn’t Die
by Phil Whalley
SportsBooks, £16.99
Reviewed by Martin Atherton
From WSC 241 March 2007

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In one of football’s regular bizarre coincidences, when Oxford United were relegated from the Football League in 2006, they were replaced by Accrington Stanley. Stanley were the club whose place Oxford had taken following the former’s resignation from the League in 1962 due to financial difficulties. There was no club, no team and no ground by 1963, but Phil Whalley’s book tells the remarkable story of the resurrection of Stanley and their long and often fraught climb back to the top.

My Story
by Alan Rough with Neil Drysdale
Headline, £18.99
Reviewed by Archie MacGregor
From WSC 241 March 2007 

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The real disaster of Scotland’s 1978 World Cup campaign was, of course, Alan Rough’s haircut. If beforehand you had somehow missed all the other tell-tale signs that the Argentina adventure was steering a steady course towards an apocalyptic implosion of the preposterous and pure vaudeville slap-stick, then Roughie’s perm ought to have been the final giveaway. While there could be grounds for speculating that its true impact on the South American continent only emerged some years later when Colombia’s Carlos Valderrama began strutting his bouffant on the world stage, for most Scots it ranks alongside dear old Ally MacLeod clutching his head in his hands as one of the more shuddering flashbacks of that most ­surreal tournament.

Man and Bhoy
by Neil Lennon with Martin Hannon
Harper Sport, £17.99
Reviewed by Robbie Meredith
From WSC 241 March 2007 

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Irish footballers have been among the most prominent exponents of the mea culpa sports autobiography in recent years. Tony Cascarino and Paul McGrath have produced open and apologetic works detailing personal failure, far in tone from the bland self-justification inherent in most of the genre.

My Story
by Tommy Docherty with Les Scott
Headline, £18.99
Reviewed by Joyce Woolridge
From WSC 240 February 2007 

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In these times, when making a few appearances for a Premiership club and being caught brawling outside a lap-dancing club is deemed enough for a three-book deal, Tommy Docherty’s weighty life serves as a salutary counter to such instant celebrity. This is a genuine autobiography, covering in detail his hard but respectable upbringing in a Glasgow tenement, his playing days as an uncompromising but skilful and accomplished wing-half for Preston and Arsenal, and his eventful managerial career at club and international level. Social change and the transformation of the status of footballers probably mean that future autobiographies can never have such depth of interest, replacing stories of early privation and struggle with 300 pages about the contents of their garages, address books and wardrobes.