Fighting Back from the Booze, Swindles and Drugs That Ripped My Life Apart
by Peter Marinello
Headline, £12.99
Reviewed by Taylor Parkes
From WSC 243 May 2007 

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The first pre-hyped footballer, Peter Marinello tipped up at Arsenal in 1970, fresh from startling the Scottish League, and flopped. He had the right qualifications to be the latest rave – youth, talent, dress sense, fashionably feminine good looks – but he never had the freakish concentration or the blind determination, he joined the wrong club at the wrong time (wayward flair did little for Bertie Mee and Don Howe) and, worse, he was born unlucky. There’s no Peter Marinello website; there are no classic‑clip compilations on YouTube. What remains is a scrapbook full of fashion shoots for the Daily Express and a black-and-white ­recording of Top of the Pops, where a painfully shy young Scot looks awkward next to a girl with false eyelashes and Tony Blackburn breaks the tension with false, toothy laughter. It’s repeated whenever TV producers want to show what a bastard football can be.

The Unknown Story of Britain’s Greatest Sportsman
by Mick Collins
Aurum Press, £14.99
Reviewed by Ian Farrell
From WSC 243 May 2007 

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Living in an age when sporting versatility means being able to answer one of Sue Barker’s tricky “away” questions, the fact that Ian Botham once had a few run-outs for Scunthorpe seems extremely impressive to me. That Denis Compton won the FA Cup with Arsenal verges on the surreal. But even Compton starts to seem hopelessly limited after reading Mick Collins’s excellent ­biography of Max Woosnam: captain of his country in both football and tennis, Olympic gold medallist, scratch golfer and Lord’s centurion. Applying the word “genius” to sportsmen is always contentious, but rarely has the term “all rounder” been better deserved.

The Story of Keith Houchen
by Jonathan Strange
Tempus, £14.99
Reviewed by David Jenkins
From WSC 242 April 2007 

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Just as – to quote Monty Python – strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government, so, one might think, one diving header in an FA Cup final is surely no justification for a biography.

Football’s Flamboyant Maestro
by Jethro Soutar
Robson, £9.99
Reviewed by Barney Ronay
From WSC 242 April 2007 

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“The importance of Ronaldinho’s aura, his grace and charisma, cannot be overstated,” writes Jethro Soutar halfway through this meticulous 90,000-word exercise in doing just that. Immaculately put together and perkily written, the only thing the book lacks is any kind of analysis of its subject to go alongside all the facts. Surprisingly, given its unofficial nature, there’s no room here for Ronaldinho as anything but permanently smiling super athlete, a sporting brand defined by his umbilical, and highly marketable, link to the common myth-kitty of Brazilian football greatness. This is a shame because, as far as it goes, this is an energetic and comprehensive biography.

My Story
by Graeme Sharp
Mainstream, £16.99
Reviewed by Mark O'Brien
From WSC 241 March 2007 

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Because his international career with Scotland was relatively limited and the period in which he won domestic honours was fairly short, non-Evertonians probably know very little about Graeme Sharp. Indeed, if they were asked to name a striker from the mid-Eighties glory days at Goodison, they would probably be more likely to go for Andy Gray or one-­season wonder Gary Lineker.

My Story
by Alan Rough with Neil Drysdale
Headline, £18.99
Reviewed by Archie MacGregor
From WSC 241 March 2007 

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The real disaster of Scotland’s 1978 World Cup campaign was, of course, Alan Rough’s haircut. If beforehand you had somehow missed all the other tell-tale signs that the Argentina adventure was steering a steady course towards an apocalyptic implosion of the preposterous and pure vaudeville slap-stick, then Roughie’s perm ought to have been the final giveaway. While there could be grounds for speculating that its true impact on the South American continent only emerged some years later when Colombia’s Carlos Valderrama began strutting his bouffant on the world stage, for most Scots it ranks alongside dear old Ally MacLeod clutching his head in his hands as one of the more shuddering flashbacks of that most ­surreal tournament.

Man and Bhoy
by Neil Lennon with Martin Hannon
Harper Sport, £17.99
Reviewed by Robbie Meredith
From WSC 241 March 2007 

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Irish footballers have been among the most prominent exponents of the mea culpa sports autobiography in recent years. Tony Cascarino and Paul McGrath have produced open and apologetic works detailing personal failure, far in tone from the bland self-justification inherent in most of the genre.

by Shaun Goater with David Clayton
Sutton, £17.99
Reviewed by Ian Farrell
From WSC 240 February 2007 

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Even by the pitifully low standards of footballers’ autobiographies, the idiocy, rampant arrogance, incredible greed and delusions of persecution on show in certain recent examples have been truly demoralising. With this in mind, the timing couldn’t be better for a salt-of-the-earth journeyman to restore our faith and show the way forward with humility and good humour. Feed the Goat is halfway there.

My Story
by Perry Groves with John McShane
John Blake, £17.99
Reviewed by Jon Spurling
From WSC 240 February 2007 

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As Arsenal’s new age breed of teetotal, sinewy robots dazzle opponents with the speed and accuracy of their passing game, George Graham’s functional but highly successful collection of home-grown Englishmen and rising lower-league stars belong to a bygone era. In the 14 years since his departure from Highbury, Groves, a £75,000 snip from Colchester, has been granted cult-­figure status. In the (frequent) long silences at home games, the “We all live in a Perry Groves world” chant – sung to the tune of Yellow Submarine – is occasionally aired, and there are two websites dedicated to Graham’s first Arsenal signing. In recent weeks, there has been a concerted campaign by numerous Arsenal sites to ensure that Groves’ tome outsells Ashley Cole’s autobiography; a battle which is being won fairly comfortably.

The Autobiography
by John Hartson with Alex Montgomery
Orion, £17.99
Reviewed by Graham McColl
From WSC 240 February 2007 

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Flicking the picture section of this book is a bit like watching the Incredible Hulk expand to the point where his clothes burst from his body. John Hartson arrived in top-flight football just as players were starting to pay greater attention to diet and Hartson, too, was always keen to do so. Awaiting, nervously, an ultimately unsuccessful fitness test with Glasgow Rangers in 2000, he relaxes in a smart restaurant in Glasgow’s West End. “I was so hungry I had four portions just to fill me up.”

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