THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

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

 

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.

A Footballer Apart
by Graeme Le Saux

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

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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.

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

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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”.

The Biography of Manchester United’s Midfield Maestro
by Ian Macleay

John Blake, £ 17.99

Reviewed by Joyce Woolridge
From WSC 260 October 2008 

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This is a book that should have been written two years down the line, when hopefully Owen Hargreaves has managed to put in something like a full season and lived up to his premature billing here as “United’s Midfield Maestro”. Currently, the Canada-born player is yet again not gracing the Old Trafford, or any other, pitch with his sublime skills, though his return to ­fitness is expected soon. It is undoubtedly true that without Hargreaves’s sporadic appearances Manchester United would not have won their two trophies last season, but the same could be said with more justification about most of the rest of United’s squad. He also showed some promise as the “holding midfield player”, the current mythical missing piece of the England team’s jigsaw, when fit. But he is still a work in progress.

The Frank McGarvey Story
by Frank McGarvey and Ronnie Esplin
Mainstream, £15.99
Reviewed by Graham McColl
From WSC 261 November 2008 

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In a mid-1980s Celtic programme, Frank McGarvey described himself as an avid viewer of wildlife documentaries – a rare trait in a footballer. Disappointingly, Frank does not elaborate here on that professed love of wildlife. The only animals to feature regularly are horses, done up in racing colours, in which Frank takes an enormous interest while admitting that after decades of betting on them he still knows nothing about the beasts.

by Mickey Thomas
Century, £18.99
Reviewed by Ashley Shaw
From WSC 261 November 2008 

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By the end of this book it’s difficult not to feel angry with Mickey Thomas. The stench of natural talent wasted for the want of a smidgen of intelligence hangs over most of his career, even if the author appears to have learned his lesson by the book’s close.

A Footballer’s Life
by Mel Sterland with Nick Johnson
Green Umbrella, £18.99
Reviewed by Andy Hockley
From WSC 262 December 2008 

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Mel “Zico” Sterland was a fine right-back who deserved more England caps than the one he picked up against Saudi Arabia in 1989. Given that there is plenty to say about his career, you might be surprised to learn that the title of this book is not the worst thing about it.

The Autobiography
by Ian Rush
Ebury, £18.99
Reviewed by Robert Fordham
From WSC 263 January 2009 

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“It’s funny,” Ian Rush says at one point, “how often seemingly inconsequential things seem to stick in your mind for years to come.” As his autobiography ploughs through lists of opponents for pre-season friendlies, “funny” is not the word that comes to mind. Likewise, the dressing-room jokes Rush recalls are often less side-splitting than he supposes. An attempt to dress him up as a “rough-edged youth” made good, off the back of one bungled shoplifting attempt, falls flat.