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.

 

349 Dugout400Football at the 
sharp end
by Richard Gordon
Black and White, £9.99
Reviewed by Gordon Cairns
From WSC 349 March 2016

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“Tales From The Technical Area” may have been a more pleasingly alliterative title, but the stories author Richard Gordon elicits from his subjects are generally of the more humble variety; summoning the sense of a damp bus shelter rather than a Perspex conservatory. The author is better known as the reasonable anchor man on Radio Scotland’s Sportsound among more excitable colleagues. Drawing on these radio connections he has amassed 48 interviews with a range of figures in the Scottish game. What is refreshing is that stories about Celtic and Rangers are minimal, allowing backroom staff and managers from smaller teams to tell their tales with a remarkable degree of candour.

349 Ronaldo400by Guillem Balague
Orion, £20
Reviewed by Joyce Woolridge
From WSC 349 March 2016

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Throughout the 350 and more pages of his “definitive” biography of Madeira’s finest player, Guillem Balague never runs out of steam or ways in which to point out that his subject is insecure, selfish, self-obsessed and immature. You don’t need to call in Freud to understand Balague’s negativity, just the 18-page prologue which demonstrates how miffed the author is not to have the sort of co-operation given by Lionel Messi in a previous biographical outing.

349 fling400Could Oxford United really steal the heart of a Manchester City fanatic?
by Steve Mingle
Pitch Publishing, £12.99
Reviewed by Piers Pennington
From WSC 349 March 2016

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The subtitle of this book – Could Oxford United really steal the heart of a Manchester City fanatic? – poses a question I have been wrestling with for more than 50 years. I looked forward to reading an account of what it felt like to have divided loyalties in a part of your life where devotion is meant to be wholehearted and unequivocal. A fellow sufferer, and the same two teams.

349 Currie400The life and career 
of Tony Currie
by EJ Huntley
Pitch Publishing, £12.99
Reviewed by David Stubbs
From WSC 349 March 2016

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There’s a strange fascination about Tony Currie that runs in parallel with the late David Bowie, or even the school of provocatively effeminate wrestlers of the early 1970s such as Adrian Street – glam Englishmen whose apparent purpose was to raise the hackles of a more stolid, crewcut older generation with their flamboyant, long-haired antics.

348 Latchfordby Bob Latchford      
deCoubertin Books, £20
Reviewed by Mark O’Brien
From WSC 348 February 2016

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Perhaps to its detriment, but thoroughly in keeping with its subject, Bob Latchford’s thoughtful, detailed autobiography shies away from drama and sensationalism and tells the story of a modest, unassuming Birmingham boy who became the most expensive player in British football.

348 Shankly400The extraordinary life and times of Glenbuck and its famous sons
by Adam Powley and Robert Gillan
Pitch Publishing, £18.99
Reviewed by Graham McColl
From WSC 348 February 2016

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With the Scottish football landscape currently ravaged almost beyond repair and Gordon Strachan, our jokey, England-based national-team manager telling us that Ikechi Anya and Scott Brown are talents to be reckoned with, it seems timely to be transported back to the village of Glenbuck. This was Bill Shankly’s childhood home and one that symbolises a footballing epoch – a century or so from the late Victorian era to the late 20th century – when Scotland produced reams of talented players from tight-knit working-class towns and villages, united by dangerous work in industry and an obsession with football.

348 HandofGod400by Philip Kerr
Head of Zeus, £7.99
Reviewed by Huw Richards
From WSC 348 February 2016

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Fiction with a sporting setting is notoriously variable in quality. Binary win-lose outcomes reduce the scope for ambiguity and authors may either be poor writers or under-informed. Philip Kerr sidesteps all of these traps with ease. His fictional club, London City, provides the context for crime rather than a narrative end in itself.

348 Drogba400My autobiography
by Didier Drogba
Hodder & Stoughton, £20
Reviewed by Si Hawkins
From WSC 348 February 2016

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A couple of lines late in Didier Drogba’s autobiography really drive home that this isn’t your average burly striker life story. “On November 2009 I teamed up with Bono to help launch an initiative with Nike on the eve of World Aids Day,” Drogba recalls, before rattling through his UN work, including “mobilising people to eradicate the use of cluster bombs/munitions”. Clearly we’re in a different ballpark to, say, Micky Quinn’s Who Ate All The Pies.

347 GretnaThe rise, fall and rebirth of Gretna football
by Anton Hodge
Chequered Flag, £11.99
Reviewed by Paul Brown
From WSC 347 January 2016

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The rise and fall of Gretna FC is one of the most fascinating football stories of recent times. After swapping English non-League for the Scottish Third Division in 2002, the border-town club won three successive promotions, reaching the Premier League and a Scottish Cup final, plus the UEFA Cup qualifying rounds. But, after just six years in League football, the club fell into administration and folded. Then came the rebirth, the tale of which Anton Hodge is well placed to tell, as he was the first chairman of phoenix club Gretna 2008.

347 CovThe inside story of Coventry City’s 1987 FA Cup win
by Steve Phelps
Pitch Publishing, £18.99
Reviewed by Ed Wilson
From WSC 347 January 2016

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For the relative newcomer to football, the fact of Coventry City’s victory in the 1987 FA Cup final, 3-2 against Spurs in one of the most dramatic games in the history of the competition, may come as a surprise. The longer the club spend in the lower reaches of the League, the more improbable the event seems. For success-starved fans, it has acquired quasi-mythical status, conferring a credibility and pride that the club’s current incarnation fails to provide. In Sky Blue Heroes, Steve Phelps offers a hit of nostalgia for those who witnessed this story unfold, and a detailed account of the triumph for those too young to remember it.