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.

 

The Biography
by Jim White
Sphere, £18.99
Reviewed by Ashely Shaw
From WSC 266 April 2009 

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Enter the words history and Manchester United into Amazon and the mind-boggling number of results returned suggest that this subject is perhaps over-subscribed. In the last 12 months alone there have been a plethora of retrospectives – so how can a new “biography” of United be justified?

The Graham Roberts Story
by Graham Roberts with Colin Duncan
Black and White, £17.99
Reviewed by Archie MacGregor
From WSC 266 April 2009 

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In the concluding chapter of this book there’s a faintly amusing moment of DIY psychology when it’s declared that: “You either love me or hate me. There’s never been any middle ground with Graham Roberts.” It has to be said that the preceding 240 or so pages of cliche drenched text are unlikely to have inspired many to convert to the former.

Titan Books, £12.99
Reviewed by Harry Pearson
From WSC 266 April 2009 

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As a boy I always resented those bits of the comic annual that were given over not to the strips but to solid blocks of text, what my mother would term “proper stories”. It struck me that, like the bizarre habit of putting hard centres in boxes of chocolates, this was just another adult way of limiting a child’s enjoyment of life.

The Journey of a Japanese Genius
by Martin Greig
Mainstream, £16.99
Reviewed by Justin McCurry
From WSC 266 April 2009 

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Though sprightly in parts, Martin Greig’s biography of Japan’s most gifted footballer is too often the victim of the pitfalls inherent in crafting a book around protracted quotations and match reports.

The Biography of  Terry Paine
by David Bull
Hagiology, £19.95
Reviewed by Tim Springett
From WSC 267 May 2009 

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You can’t accuse the author of this excellent tome of not doing his homework, or loving his subject. David Bull, a retired social policy lecturer and lifelong Southampton fan, has penned a fully authorised biography of the player he considers to have been the best that he ever saw play for the Saints. Paine was certainly a remarkable player: 713 league appearances for Saints as they rose from the Third Division South to the top flight and remained there for eight seasons tell their own story. Likewise the 19 England caps that he won – the last against Mexico in the 1966 World Cup finals – without having kicked a ball in Division One.

The Amazing Story of the Islington Corinthians 1937-38 World Tour
by Rob Cavallini with Colin Duncan
Dog ’n’ Duck, £14.99
Reviewed by Pete Green
From WSC 267 May 2009 

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Fans sometimes like to think that football is popular across the world because it’s somehow more universally, intrinsically appealing than rugby, or baseball, or kabaddi. It’s not: it’s because of people like Tom Smith.

The Story of the Footballers' Battalion in the Great War
by Andrew Riddoch & John Kemp
Haynes, £19.99
Reviewed by Harry Pearson
From WSC 267 May 2009 

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Football folk are fond of commenting that some event – a natural disaster, terrorist outrage, loss of a relative to disease – has “put things in perspective”. And you can almost guarantee that five minutes later they’ll once again be arguing about a penalty decision as if their life depended on it.

Confessions of a Lower League Legend
by Peter Swan with Andrew Collomosse
John Blake, £17.99
Reviewed by Terry Staunton
From WSC 267 May 2009 

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A foreword by Sky’s Helen Chamberlain and further front-loaded testimonials from Gary Speed, Phil “The Power” Taylor and more leave the reader in little doubt that Peter Swan is a “larger than life” character. He goes on to tell us so himself many times, and employs the phrase “joker in the pack” almost as frequently.

by Don Shaw
Ebury Press, £16.99
Reviewed by Peter Gutteridge
From WSC 268 June 2009 

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The story of Brian Clough’s triumphs at Derby County and his fractious relationship with chairman Sam Longson has been told many times. Now we have another film and book, The Damned United, in which Clough’s supposed inner demons are explored. It is therefore a huge challenge for Don Shaw to produce a fresh look at this key period of Derby’s history – but he succeeds.

Malcolm Allison, Joe Mercer and Manchester City
by Colin Shindler
Mainstream, £17.99
Reviewed by Ian Farrell
From WSC 268 June 2009 

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Back in the late Nineties, Colin Shindler’s Manchester United Ruined My Life became one of football writing’s biggest break-out hits, earning its author plenty of mainstream praise, a spin-off TV documentary, and, it has to be said, a fair amount of criticism, amid suggestions that it was just a Manchester City version of Fever Pitch. Such carping about merely putting his own club’s spin on a recent success is clearly of no concern to Shindler if the strangely familiar premise of his latest work is anything to go by: a piece of nostalgic ­“faction” about a big-mouthed, larger-than-life coach battling for control... of Man City. In fact, given that its release has been timed to follow that of The Damned United’s much-hyped film version, it doesn’t look like Shindler and his publisher’s publicity department mind one little bit if you make the comparison. Now that I’ve done their bidding, I’ll say this: they’re nothing like each other.