THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

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

 

An Intimate Portrait of Football’s Last Romantic
by Ian Ridley
Simon & Schuster, £16.99
Reviewed by Harry Pearson
From WSC 270 August 2009 

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It’s a popular notion that silence is enigmatic. “Still waters run deep,” we say. Some people, however, can talk a hell of a lot yet remain unfathomable. Kevin Keegan is a veritable babbling brook, yet despite the fact he rarely seems to have shut up for four decades the motivations behind key decisions at important times in his life appear oddly mysterious.

 A Refugee Team, An American Town
by Warren St John
Fourth Estate, £14.99
Reviewed by David Wangerin
From WSC 270 August 2009 

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In Atlanta to promote his first book, Warren St John came across someone who worked in a nearby refugee settlement and suggested the author “check out the soccer team” there. He did – and discovered that the town of Clarkston, a few miles north-east of the city, had developed into a sort of international refugee centre, teeming with dislocated families from Iraq, Kosovo, Liberia and other trouble spots.

Saturday Afternoons in Front of the Telly
by Jeff Stelling
Harper Sport, £15.99
Reviewed by Roger Titford
From WSC 270 August 2009 

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Not long ago I bought a remaindered copy of Barry Davies’ autobiography, Interesting, Very Interesting. “Toe-curling, very toe-curling” would have been more appropriate. Likewise, Jeff Stelling has drawn from the well of his own commentary for a title. In his case he confesses the pun on the Mansfield defender’s name was many months premeditated and this tells you all you need to know about his (or hopefully his ghost’s) style. But the truth is both Barry and Jeff are among my very favourite football broadcasters. Stelling has created in Soccer Saturday the only programme where I prefer the Sky offering to the BBC and he has used it as a platform to half-escape the backwater of satellite TV for Channel 4’s Countdown.

Love, Death and Football
by Jason Cowley
Simon & Schuster, £14.99
Reviewed by Terry Staunton
From WSC 270 August 2009 

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Michael Thomas’s last-gasp goal for Arsenal at Anfield on May 26, 1989, has proven to be hard to top, in terms of live and unscripted televised sporting drama. Possibly the most replayed clip from a domestic football match of the last two decades, what has happened to the game in the intervening years forms the basis of Cowley’s persuasive argument that nothing was ever the same again.

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.

by Adam Riches
Mainstream, £19.99
Reviewed by Frank Plowright
From WSC 271 September 2009 

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We all know Roy of the Rovers, and more recently Striker, but memories of further football heroes from comics are murky. The many hours spent by Adam Riches poring through the comics in the National Publication Archives make him the man to fill us in.

My Story
Hodder & Stoughton, £18.99
Reviewed by Tim Springett
From WSC 250 December 2007

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Did he think of that title himself or pay someone else to come up with it? Whichever, it’s apt, of course – the subject is so tall that he doesn’t even fit in the frame for the book’s front-cover photo. Peter Crouch is a player who – as he reminds us frequently – has had to work harder than many to prove himself. I wondered whether he would show similar dedication to his autobiography, which he has had published at the tender age of 26. Well, actually, he hasn’t done too badly.

Ferguson and Shankly
by Oliver Holt
Pan, £8.99
Reviewed by David Stubbs
From WSC 250 December 2007

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Sir Alex Ferguson and Bill Shankly have some things in common, opines Oliver Holt, not least in their sharing of the sentiments expressed in the title to this double biography. For Ferguson, the need to prevail – to compensate, perhaps, for the setbacks and disappointments of his early working life – was deep-dyed. He was even known, when a game of cards with his players wasn’t going well, to chuck the entire pack across the coach in fearsome, capillary-bursting pique. As for Shanks, he outlined the attitudes that made him practically a hermit to football in an uncharacteristically revealing letter to a journalist in 1955. “I used to think that it would be better to die than to lose,” he wrote. “To enable me to reach the top, I went to all extremes, no woman, no smoking, early to bed – this went for years, but it was worthwhile.”