Conflicts and Conscience in an English Football Club
by Matthew Bell & Gary Armstrong
Peakpublish, £16.99
Reviewed by Ian Rands
From WSC 292 June 2011

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A book detailing the comings and goings of the Sheffield United boardroom over the last 30 years may not seem to have universal appeal. But while stories of mismanagement and its fallout are familiar to a large number of football fans, this tale warrants further telling due to the extraordinary cast of characters. These include the country's biggest white-collar fraudster, an Iraqi businessman later to undergo gender realignment before subsequent reversal, a chairman subject to an international arrest warrant, a fugitive still on the run from Interpol and a London socialite known as "The Count" with indirect connections to Libyan arms dealers.

44 Months with a Pair of Cowboys
by Brian Reade
Quercus, £12.99
Reviewed by Rob Hughes
From WSC 292 June 2011

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As you might surmise from the title, Brian Reade's account of Tom Hicks' and George Gillett's turbulent time at Liverpool doesn't exactly propose to be a balanced one. But this book proves to be much more than it suggests. Not that the American pair, who took over in a leveraged buyout in February 2007, escape without the bashing they deserve.

An English Club's Century in Scottish Football
by Tom Maxwell
Northumbria Press, £17.99
Reviewed by Harry Pearson
From WSC 294 August 2011

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Ninety per cent of the players in the club's history have come from another country, they play in a stadium – with "a sound system comparable to a Walkman in a bowl of soup" – that is overlooked by grain silos, one of their greatest ever players is the son of a shepherd, they are not allowed to play in their county cup competition for political reasons and they won their first ever football match by a margin of "one goal and two tries to nil".

Success and Failure at Burnley FC
by Dave Thomas
Vertical Editions, £12.99
Reviewed by Alan Tomlinson
From WSC 294 August 2011

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When Burnley drew Bolton Wanderers in the Carling Cup the season after their Premier League campaign, all was in place for a morality play as much as a football match. Owen Coyle, the Bolton manager, had walked out on Burnley in the middle of their first year back in English football's top tier for 33 years. Burnley tumbled down the league table, Bolton survived and Coyle was labelled Judas by inconsolable Burnley fans.

Arsenal Football Club
From Woolwich to Whittaker

by Brian Glanville
GCR Books, £11.95
Reviewed by David Stubbs
From WSC 296 Oct 2011

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Over The Bar
Memories of My Career with Arsenal and Wales

by Jack Kelsey
GCR Books, £12.95
Reviewed by David Stubbs
From WSC 296 Oct 2011

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Both of these titles involve journalist and lifelong Arsenal supporter Brian Glanville, who began his literary career aged just 19 when he persuaded Cliff Bastin to allow him to ghostwrite his memoirs. In 1952, aged just 21, Glanville wrote one of the first histories of Arsenal, from 1886 to 1952, when, unbeknown to the author, his team were about to embark on one of the most fallow periods of their history.

The Birth of Liverpool Football Club
by Alan Wilson
Vertical, £11.99
Reviewed by Rob Hughes
From WSC 297 November 2011

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Liverpool first emerged, in true Adam and Eve style, from Everton's rib. A boardroom bust-up in 1892 led Anfield owner John Houlding to funnel his considerable wealth into a brand new team, taking his ball (and his ground) with him. Thus Liverpool FC was born, while Everton, having called Anfield home for eight years, were packed off to Goodison.

Ten Years at Anfield – A Liverpool Fan's Dream Job
by Frank Gamble
SportsBooks, £7.99
Reviewed by Mark Rowe
From WSC 299 January 2012

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Frank Gamble has given us a rarity: an original football memoir. "The idea for this book," he says, "was to try and express what it was like crossing the threshold of just being a fan, no matter how fervent, to depending on that commitment for your livelihood." In the 1980s he worked for Liverpool as the lottery sales manager. Liverpool taxed and insured his beige, nearly-new 1300cc Ford Escort estate. "How cool was that?" Frank writes. "Had somebody offered me a swap for a Ferrari there and then I would have politely declined."

How Brighton & Hove Albion Football Club and its fans united to build a stadium
by Paul Hodson & Stephen North
Stripe Publishing, £15.99
Reviewed by Drew Whitworth
From WSC 302 April 2012

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We Want Falmer! is a sequel to the authors' earlier Build a Bonfire, from 1997. Their first book is a collection of testimonies from Brighton & Hove Albion players, staff and fans, recounting the fight to depose chairman Bill Archer and save the club from relegation to the Conference. At the time, Brighton were 91st in the League and playing at Gillingham to crowds under 2,000. They now sit in the upper half of the Championship and crowds at the new American Express Community Stadium (Amex) have averaged over 20,000.

A year on the frontline with a proper club
by Michael Calvin
Corinthian, £8.99
Reviewed by Neil Andrews
From WSC 301 March 2012

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Millwall and success are not common bedfellows. As such you could be forgiven for thinking this offering is little more than an attempt to cash in on the Lions' campaign of 2009-10 that ended in play-off success. Michael Calvin struck lucky with the happy ending, but there is a lot more to Family than a simple recap of a winning season. It offers a fascinating and entertaining insight into what is described as a "proper club" by the book's subtitle.

One city, two teams... 
the Old Firm
by Richard Wilson
Canongate, £16.99
Reviewed by Graham McColl
From WSC 301 March 2012

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Robust, solid and relentlessly serious, this foursquare introduction to the Old Firm reflects the grim nature of the ongoing struggle for temporary footballing supremacy in Glasgow that obsesses the followers of both clubs. It is almost flawless factually, although many of its tales will be as familiar to Scottish football supporters as their own front door and there appears to be only one fresh interview with a manager or player who has tasted the rivalry.

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