THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

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

 

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.

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.