by Ossie Ardiles
Bantam Press, £18.99
Reviewed by Adam Powley
From WSC 275 January 2010

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There’s a telling description of Ossie Ardiles that the World Cup winner recounts early on in this suitably idiosyncratic book. His unnamed former manager at Huracán joked: “You know what number you should be wearing? You should be wearing a question mark on your back!” Difficult to tackle on the pitch, Ardiles is similarly elusive to pin down on the page. His intelligence and insight is obvious but the reader is left with only a partial portrait.

The Gerry Hitchens Story
From Mine to Milan
by Simon Goodyear
Breedon, £16.99
Reviewed by Matthew Barker
From WSC 275 January 2010

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William Garbutt
The Father of Italian Football
by Paul Edgerton
Sportsbooks, £7.99
Reviewed by Matthew Barker
From WSC 275 January 2010

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Two books telling the neglected stories of two Englishmen whose reputations and legacies have always been more appreciated in Italy than in their native country. Gerry Hitchens made his name as a striker with Cardiff City and Aston Villa. A goalscoring performance for England against Italy bought him to the attention of Inter and a move to Milan in 1961. After 18 months of mixed success he left for Torino, before moving on to Atalanta and Cagliari. In total he spent eight years in Italy, returning to the UK and Worcester City in 1969. He died in 1983 during an amateur game, aged 48.

by Davie Hay
Black & White, £17.99
Reviewed by Graham McColl
From WSC 276 February 2010

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One of the “Lisbon Lion cubs” groomed to replace Celtic’s European Cup winners, Davie Hay’s three departures from Celtic Park were almost as significant as his achievements there. Eased out to Chelsea in 1974 after going on strike, in 1987 he became the first Celtic manager to be sacked and was sacked again, when assistant general manager, during the club’s turbulent 1990s rebirth.

by Steve Pitts
Pennant Books, £9.99
Reviewed by Pete Green
From WSC 276 February 2010

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As with Pete Doherty, Kerry Katona and Amy Winehouse, so with Paul Gascoigne: the same hypocritical combination of moral outrage and rubber-necking guarantees sales each time their descent lights up the front pages. From the national institution status of 1990, of course, Gazza had further to fall than anyone – all the way to Kettering Town, where he fetched up in 2005, installed as celebrity manager by incoming 20-something chairman Imraan Ladak and sacked eight games later, accused of almost daily indiscretions as the drinking continued.

The Biography
by Joel Miller
John Blake, £17.99
Reviewed by Paul Doyle
From WSC 247 September 2007 

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Good things about this book include: the high standard of spelling; functionally correct grammar; and the fact that if you dropped it from a great height on to the head of the person who recommended it to you, it would do serious damage. Beyond that, the highest praise you could give it is that it reads like an extended Wikipedia entry, a broadly efficient collation of information already in the public domain. If you think that makes it worth almost 18 of your English pounds, then you presumably pay for WSC with wheelbarrows of gold. Well done.

The Autobiography

Norman Whiteside
Headline, £18.99
Reviewed by Joyce Woolridge
From WSC 249 November 2007 

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It’s June 1991, and Norman Whiteside won’t get out of bed. His fearless attitude on the pitch inspired a Manchester United fanzine, The Shankhill Skinhead, but he spends his “bed-in” crying, unable to come to terms with the reality that he is finished as a footballer at 26. So begins Determined, his autobiography, and he spares readers none of the harrowing details as he traces how a series of medical decisions, made in good faith and often the standard treatment then available, had, as he puts it, “done for him” by the time he was 18. By that tender age he is unable to rotate his hips, giving him his trademark robotic-style run, has lost his pace, and has a knee in which bone grinds against bone. Chips will henceforth regularly flake off into the joint, causing excruciating pain, swelling it up to the size of a swede, necessitating further surgery. Injuries used to be discussed in macho style in football autobiographies, an inevitable consequence of a man’s game, the honourable scars of battle. The recent trend of revealing the pain, both physical and mental, of professional football is refreshing and welcome, if often difficult to read without wincing.

The Remarkable Life and Death of Leigh Richmond Roose, Football's First Play Boy
by Spencer Vignes
Tempus, £9.99
Reviewed by Harry Pearson
From WSC 249 November 2007 

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While those with even a passing interest in cricket can probably name a dozen Edwardian players without recourse to Wisden, I suspect that even the die-hard football fan finds the era before the First World War a good deal less familiar. Because while cricket regards the years that spawned Frank Woolley, Jack Hobbs and Victor Trumper as its “golden age”, to most people football doesn’t really seem to get going until the 1930s.

The Forgotten Truth of Gary Sprake
by Stuart Sprake & Tim Johnson
Tempus, £9.99
Reviewed by Huw Richards
From WSC 248 October 2007 

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Some decent sporting careers are damned by a single error. Bill Buckner, a just-this-side-of-great baseball player, has for 21 years been defined by the fielding error that extended the Boston Red Sox’s interminable wait to win a World Series. Gordon Smith will have to make one heck of a splash running the Scottish FA to efface memories of his miss in the 1983 FA Cup final. Such judgments are often undeserved, however, and the authors here aim to prove that Gary Sprake, Stuart’s uncle, merited better.

by Margaret Potts & Dave Thomas
SportsBooks, £17.99
Reviewed by Alan Tomlinson
From WSC 247 September 2007 

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Harry Potts played for and managed Burnley in some of their most successful periods from the late 1940s to the late 1960s, and again in some less successful times in the 1970s. This book combines the memoir of his wife, Margaret, with the broader context portrayed by writer Dave Thomas. It is an engaging book, a richly illustrated portrait of a time and culture a million miles away from the excesses of the post-1992 English football elite.

The Biography of Jimmy Johnstone
by Jim Black
Sphere, £18.99
Reviewed by Graham McColl
From WSC 247 September 2007 

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The post-football fate of Jimmy Johnstone is one of the best arguments that can be mustered in favour of the super-inflated salaries of today’s footballers. He was voted the greatest ever Celtic player in 2002, yet for the previous two decades, after finishing with football as a player, he had found himself skint and, as outlined here, spent that period meandering unsatisfyingly through various menial jobs. These included three years as a manual labourer and, irony of ironies, a spell as a satellite-dish salesman, purveying the very piece of equipment that has made today’s players rich beyond Jimmy’s wildest dreams.

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