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.

 

352 Savageby Robbie Savage
Constable, £18.99
Reviewed by Tom Lines
From WSC 352 June 2016

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Apparently, you either love Robbie Savage or you hate him. He is, in his own words, “Mr Marmite”: someone who divides opinion “like Moses divided the Red Sea”. It’s an interesting choice of simile, suggesting a finely balanced reservoir of people on each side of the debate. In reality, on one hand there are the people who love him: his close friends and family, perhaps his agent, and on the other there are all the people you’ve ever met with an interest in football.

352 WhenFootballEngland, the English and Euro 96
by Michael Gibbons
Pitch Publishing, £12.99
Reviewed by Jonathan O’Brien
From WSC 352 June 2016

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It’s now 20 years since Euro 96, a relentlessly mediocre, often sparsely attended tournament won by an unexceptional Germany team that stumbled over the line carrying a busload of walking wounded. Realistically, it should be best forgotten. Yet, oddly, it continues to exert a strong hold over English football’s folk memory. Not because of the standard of play, or because England achieved anything beyond a restoration of respectability, but... just because. For better or worse, its name has come to evoke an unrepeatable moment in time.

351 1930sSimple or sublime?
by Jack Rollin
Soccerdata, £18
Reviewed by Roger Titford
From WSC 351 May 2016

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What a curious book this is. At first I thought it was a reprint but it is a new offering from Jack Rollin (of Rothmans Football Yearbook fame) and published by Soccerdata, the imprint of another revered statto, Tony Brown. It may have taken as its model and inspiration Geoffrey Green’s classic Soccer In The Fifties but it reads rather less fluently. Imagine a decade’s worth of the Rothmans Yearbook condensed and set to workaday prose. It’s hours of fact, the whole gamut of the game – internationals, England, Scotland, Amateurs, the Army Cup and the Varsity match – comprehensively covered. If you are about 95 years old you may well get some of those “Ah, I remember that” moments.

351 66by Ian Passingham
Pitch Publishing, £14.99
Reviewed by Jon Matthias
From WSC 351 May 2016

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The concept of this book is to help the reader “relive the finals as if they were happening today”. Broadly speaking it works, as Ian Passingham tells the story of the 1966 World Cup in modern journalistic style. That means lots of headlines, short sentences and picking the newsworthy angle out of the factual details. There are times when anachronisms grate, such as references to “WAGs”. “The Angels of the North” particularly stood out as a headline out of sync with the rest of the book, given the Angel was only erected in 1998. But minor quibbles apart, Passingham manages to make the source material fresh and interesting.

351 SecretGuardian Publishing, £12.99
Reviewed by Si Hawkins
From WSC 351 May 2016

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When the Secret Footballer embarked on his lid-lifting column for the Guardian six years ago, he presumably didn’t envisage having to stretch those trade secrets across four books, even after retirement. There’s a telling chapter here in which he repeatedly tries to quit playing, but football keeps pulling him back in, and you wonder if his publishers have been doing the same: “Dig deep, TSF, just a few more anecdotes…”

351 Kloppby Elmar Neveling
Ebury Press, £12.99
Reviewed by Rob Hughes
From WSC 351 May 2016

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Attempting to write a biography of someone with an ongoing career means that your work is never quite done. As a contributor to DFB Bundesliga magazine, Elmar Neveling has been well placed to chart the rise of Jürgen Klopp over the past decade. A book published in Germany in 2011 Echte Liebe (Real Love) brought Klopp’s achievements with Borussia Dortmund into some kind of focus, but landed between back-to-back Bundesliga titles. A new version, published four years later, was able to evaluate his achievements (including the German double and reaching a Champions League final) from a better perspective. Klopp’s decision to cut short his post-Dortmund sabbatical has now necessitated an extra chapter in this English version of the book, probably earlier than Neveling anticipated, to cover the start of his Liverpool tenure.

350 CrazyThe true inside 
story of football’s 
greatest miracle
by Dave Bassett 
and Wally Downes
Bantam Press, £18.99
Reviewed by Shane Simpson
From WSC 350 April 2016

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Dave Bassett, and co-author Wally Downes, make it clear that this book has been written in response to those involved in the BT Sport documentary The Crazy Gang, who Bassett feels “had not done their homework on the years before the 1988 Cup final… [having] an agenda whereby they wanted to sensationalise some of the stories that Vinnie and Fash had, and made them the centre of attention when the film was released”.

350 FarrellFootball between 
the lines
by David Farrell
Teckle Books, £9.99
Reviewed by Neil Andrews
From WSC 350 April 2016

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There’s a scene in Dad’s Army that neatly sums up David Farrell’s football career. In the midst of a rant about class warfare, Captain Mainwaring informs Sergeant Wilson that he had to “fight like hell” to get into grammar school and “fight even harder to stay there”. It is a sentiment Farrell can empathise with in his dogged determination not only to become a professional footballer but remain one, despite a crumbling left foot and a run of very bad luck.

350 CahillThe autobiography 
of Tim Cahill
by Tim Cahill
HarperSport, £18.99
Reviewed by Jamie Rainbow
From WSC 350 April 2016

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When Tim Cahill’s contract with Shanghai Shenhua was terminated, a number of A-League clubs approached the midfielder offering him the chance to finish his playing career in Australia. But, as he reveals in Legacy, he’d already snubbed an earlier return to his homeland for commercial reasons. The 36-year-old, fast approaching the end of his playing career, was already thinking about life after football. Or, to use Cahill’s own slightly nausea-inducing phrase, he had to “strategize as a businessman”.

350 BuryHow Bury triumphed 
in British football’s worst year
by James Bentley
SilverWood Books, £14.99
Reviewed by Charles Morris
From WSC 350 April 2016

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The story of how a hard-up Fourth Division club succeeded against the odds and won promotion in 1984-85 using just 15 players has immediate appeal to fans of smaller clubs. The underdog theme also chimes with the present, as Leicester, Bournemouth and Burton confound expectations this season. The tale’s backdrop is compelling, too, because 1984-85 was a nadir for British football, a period besmirched by appalling hooliganism and the tragedies of the Bradford fire and the Heysel stadium.