THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

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

 

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.

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 Brad Friedel with Malcolm McClean
Orion, £18.99
Reviewed by David Wangerin
From WSC 268 June 2009 

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No colourful boots for Brad Friedel – no self-aggrandising tattoos, no trophy wife, and certainly no flamboyant hairstyles. But, almost inevitably these days, there is a book. Not that we should begrudge this Premier League stalwart a foray outside his penalty area; indeed, how a collegiate star from Ohio became one of England’s most dependable goalkeepers and a hero of the 2002 World Cup would seem to be a story worth reading.

100 Years of the PFA
by John Harding
Breedon, £18.99
Reviewed by Joyce Woolridge
From WSC 269 July 2009 

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Trade union history is not the easiest of material to turn into an engrossing read. Chronicling the history of the Players’ Union brings an additional challenge, that, in some quarters at least, there is little sympathy for the PFA and its purported defence of irresponsible, greedy players “holding the game to ransom”. Harding’s update of his earlier pioneering PFA official history For The Good of the Game is an unashamedly polemical and timely reminder of why the PFA exists and what it has done for professional football. Written with the same clarity and skill as Harding’s classic biography of Billy Meredith, Football Wizard, and the underrated Living to Play, this book is yet another timely addition to what could be thought of as an ongoing “elevatory project” within football which seeks to counter the stereotype of the “footballer as a thick-headed yokel who needs constant discipline and cannot be trusted to manage his own affairs” as maverick 1970s PFA Chair Derek Dougan put it.

by John Wark
Know The Score, £18.99
Reviewed by Gavin Barber
From WSC 269 July 2009 

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Sometimes it’s the little details that point towards the most interesting aspects of a book. One does not expect the acknowledgements page of John Wark’s autobiography to thank Warner Chappell for permission to reproduce the lyrics to Shirley Bassey’s I Am What I Am. But sure enough, all three verses of Warky’s favourite song are there in the final chapter: we learn that he frequently gives it a spin on the stereo when he gets back from the pub. The image of the legendary hardnut cutting a tipsy rug to this well-known gay anthem is an unexpected one.

Northern and Proud
The Bob Stokoe Story
by Paul Harrison
Know The Score, £17.99
Reviewed by Joe Boyle
From WSC 269 July 2009 

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Left Back In Time
by Len Ashurst
Know The Score, £17.99
Reviewed by Joe Boyle
From WSC 269 August 2009 

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As Sunderland head for next season with another new manager, where are the templates for managerial success on Wearside? Bob Stokoe is the obvious choice but, on the evidence of two recent books, a more nuanced understanding of the club and the game comes from Len Ashurst, another former Sunderland boss.

Premier League to Prison
by Mark Ward
Football World, £17.99
Reviewed by Mark O'Brien
From WSC 271 September 2009 

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Mark Ward enjoyed a playing career that took in Northwich Victoria, Oldham Athletic, West Ham United, Manchester City, Everton and Birmingham City. He scored a goal in the Merseyside derby and was a key member of the Hammers side that finished third in the 1985-86 season, but what he will always be known for, and probably the only reason his autobiography was commissioned, is the fact that in 2005 he was arrested on drug charges and subsequently received an eight-year jail sentence.

by Steve Claridge with Ian Ridley
Orion, £18.99
Reviewed by Pete Green
From WSC 271 September 2009 

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One book was never going to be enough for Steve Claridge. While his well-received earlier volume Tales From the Boot Camps told an enjoyable if fairly standard tale of a mostly lower-division pro enjoying glimpses of the big time, this follow-up finds the archetypal journeyman scurrying around the leagues in his late 30s to extend an already epic CV. With some brief but eventful stints in management and a burgeoning media career, there is masses of raw material, and with his co-author and friend Ian Ridley, Claridge has crafted it into another decent read.

The Autobiography
by Sir Bobby Charlton
Headline, £7.99
Reviewed by David Stubbs
From WSC 271 September 2009 

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Following up the first volume of his memoirs My Manchester United Years, this covers the span of Charlton’s international career from 1958 to that anticlimactic moment in 1970, when in his last game for his country he was substituted in the World Cup quarter-final, only to see West Germany overturn a 2-0 lead, taking advantage of Peter Bonetti’s unfeline goalkeeping display.