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 Footballer Apart
by Graeme Le Saux

Harper Sport, £8.99
Reviewed by Mike Ticher
From WSC 251 January 2008 

Buy this book

 


Graeme Le Saux is not a particularly remarkable man, and this is not a particularly remarkable book, but it throws up intriguing issues about football culture over the past 20 years. The contrast between his ordinariness and the extraordinary treatment he received tells us a lot about what a closed and vicious world football can be.

Sunderland: A Club Transformed
by Jonathan Wilson

Orion, £16.99
Reviewed by Ed Upright
From WSC 251 January 2008 

Buy this book

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Irish Uprising: How Keano and the Mighty Quinn saved Sunderland
by Andy Dawson
Sportsbooks, £10.99

Reviewed by Ed Upright
From WSC 251 January 2008 

Buy this book

 

 

 

Support for the Northern Ireland peace process seems to be gathering pace on Wearside – at least if you judge by name changes to some of Sunderland’s least welcoming pubs. One such hostelry, always known for the pro-Unionist nature of its clientele, is now named after Sunderland’s current manager, whose Irish national pride is well documented. This transformation is only one example of the way the explosion of interest since Roy Keane’s appointment has changed perceptions both inside and outside the region.

Studs! The Greatest Retro Football Annual the World Has Ever Seen
edited by Barney Ronay
Ebury, £9.99
Reviewed by Taylor Parkes
From WSC 239 January 2007 

Buy this book

 

 

 

 

 

Football Handbook – The Glory Years
Marshall Cavendish, £9.99

Reviewed by Taylor Parkes
From WSC 239 January 2007 

Buy this book

 

 

 

 

As the Premiership becomes an increasingly remote circus, the primary colours and brutal joy of Old Football seem more appealing by the day. The fan of a certain age starts keening for the past – because at least it’s our past – and Christmas offers the chance to indulge in nostalgia without the slightly queasy feeling of having to go out and buy it ourselves.

A Life in Football
by Egon Theiner & Elisabeth Schlammerl

Liberties Press, £10.99
Reviewed by Jonathan O'Brien
From WSC 259 September 2008 

Buy this book

 


Giovanni Trapattoni couldn’t have enjoyed a smoother entrance to the Republic of Ireland job. An initial whirlwind of adulatory obeisance was followed by two inept friendly performances that helpfully dampened down expectations, though Trap was wily enough not to lose either game.

The True Story of Supporting the Worst Football Team in Britain
by Dave Roberts
Portico, £12.99
Reviewed by John Carter
From WSC 259 September 2008 

Buy this book

 


Male adolescence is – among other things too toe-curling to be discussed in public – about making grown-up choices. It’s the first time we make our mark, take a stand, pledge an allegiance. The Bromley Boys is about one such choice.

A History of Football Tactics
by Jonathan Wilson
Orion, £18.99
Reviewed by Harry Pearson
From WSC 259 September 2008

Buy this book

 


To those of us who grew up reading World Soccer in the 1970s, the word “tactics” will forever conjure up the severe glasses of journalist Eric Batty, portly sage of formations and positional play, whose annual selection of a World XI invariably involved at least one player of whom the writer would observe: “For club and country he is predominantly deployed on the right wing. I have elected to play him at left-back...” In 1970, Batty wrote a book in which he presented an analysis of the styles and tactics of the teams at the Mexico World Cup. In it the author conclusively proved – by data, argument and drawings – that Brazil were the most effective side at the tournament.

Modern Russia and the People's Game
by Marc Bennetts
Virgin, £11.99

Reviewed by Csaba Abrahall
From WSC 259 September 2008 

Buy this book

 


Russia’s impressive showing at Euro 2008, following recent UEFA Cup victories for CSKA Moscow and Zenit St Petersburg, was the latest indication that Russian football, after a long period of post-Soviet underachievement, is emerging into an era of success. Marc Bennetts’ affectionate analysis of football in modern Russia is therefore a timely one.

The Making of a Modern Superclub
by Alex Fynn & Kevin Whitcher

Vision Sports, £16.99

Reviewed by Cameron Carter
From WSC 260 October 2008 

Buy this book

 


At last – a football book that reflects the spirit of the age. Arsènal – The Making of a Modern Superclub is a forensic account of the boardroom rumblings that have produced a world brand that sells property in London, beer in India and credit cards in Hong Kong. And 90 minutes of football in England on a Saturday.

by Rowan Simons

Macmillan, £14.99
Reviewed by Ben Lyttleton
From WSC 260 October 2008 

Buy this book

 


All eyes were on China in August as Beijing proved, with the odd journalist-napping aside, to be an excellent host city for the Olympics. Rowan Simons has spent most of the past 20 years living in China and this book charts his period in the country, from his student days watching the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989 to his rise as a football pundit (though not a very good one as one of his favourite lines is “He’ll never score with a haircut like that”) and a political figure trying to create more pitches and more opportunities for Chinese amateur ­footballers.

The Autobiography
by Mike Summerbee & Jim Holden
Century, £18.99
Reviewed by Ian Farrell
From WSC 260 October 2008 

Buy this book

 


In an attempt to sell Mike Summerbee’s autobiography beyond a niche market of Manchester City fans, George Best is pictured alongside him on the back cover, while his minor role in Escape to Victory is hyped in the dust-jacket blurb. With few of his great moments – or massive bust-ups – caught on tape, and his eight-cap England career covering little of note, Summerbee’s impact on the collective consciousness is surprisingly slight for such a great player. He will always be thought of in relation to other people: as Best’s best friend in the Swinging Sixties, as one third of the Bell-Lee-Summerbee triumvirate, or as “Nicky’s dad”.