After reading the back cover blurb, where this account of footballers’ lives is described as “the ultimate where are they now”, one is prepared for a horrifying catalogue of alcohol and drug addiction, marriage break-ups, disability, bankruptcy, prison sentences and suicides. Perhaps fortunately, the content doesn’t truly warrant this apocalyptic preview.
How Chuck Blazer got rich from – and sold out – the most powerful cabal in world sports
by Mary Papenfuss & Teri Thompson
Reviewed by Alan Tomlinson
From WSC 353 July 2016
Chuck Blazer: the Father Christmas lookalike whose weight had mushroomed to 450lbs by the time the FBI and the US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) nobbled him on the Manhattan pavement outside his Trump Tower base in November 2011. This was just under a year after FIFA’s decision to award the next two World Cups to Russia and Qatar, and while a generation of FIFA powerbrokers and crooks was beginning to shatter the silence of a long-held code of omertà.
The men who taught the world how to beat England at their own game
by Rory Smith
Simon & Schuster, £18.99
Reviewed by Andy Brassell
From WSC 353 July 2016
Mister is the story of England’s (and its coaches’) role as a football missionary, spreading the gospel across the continent and beyond until the point when the pupils overtake the master – and keep going until the latter is a mere dot in the distance.
Simple or sublime?
by Jack Rollin
Reviewed by Roger Titford
From WSC 351 May 2016
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.
Football at the
by Richard Gordon
Black and White, £9.99
Reviewed by Gordon Cairns
From WSC 349 March 2016
“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.
A football commentator’s journey
by Ian Crocker
Pitch Publishing, £12.99
Reviewed by John Earls
From WSC 346 December 2015
Now in his second spell covering Scottish football for Sky Sports, Ian Crocker’s career is a potentially fascinating story of being one of commentating’s nearly men. Crocker says he was aware of his place in the hierarchy at Sky, in the rung below the channel’s big four commentators, but his defection to the ill-fated Setanta to become their top dog lasted just one season.