The Autobiography
by Alan Mullery with Tony Norman
Headline, £18.99
Reviewed by Adam Powley
From WSC 239 January 2007 

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“Outspoken, controversial and entertaining”: so say the publishers in hyping the memoirs of Alan Mullery, adding the titillating prospect of naked blondes in hotels and “every human emotion”. Perhaps the current trend for football biogs replete with tales of mega-bungs, bling and bedroom antics has skewed the biographical template, but there’s little need for the Heat-style hard sell here.

by Paul McGrath
Century, £18.99
Reviewed by Peter Daly
From WSC 239 January 2007 

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When Paul McGrath was 19, he embarked on “a journey of unimaginable strangeness” that lasted almost a year. He did so without leaving his hospital bed. In fact, he did so almost without moving a muscle – it was a psychological voyage, see, during which a confused and frightened McGrath lay for so long with his legs locked tensely together that he would suffer from knee pains for ever more. That’s just one of the reasons it’s amazing he went on to have a football career, let alone a glorious one.

My Story
by Kenny Sansom
John Blake, £17.99
Reviewed by David Stubbs
From WSC 258 August 2008 

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Kenny Sansom’s autobiography ought to be a rollicking, tasty read. He was brought up alone in south London by a strong-willed mother, his father having departed family life to work with the Krays. A joker, he appears more proud at times of his Norman Wisdom impersonation than a career in which he won 86 England caps. He also liked a drink – he was a key member not just of Arsenal’s mid-Eighties defence but also their wrecking crew, embarking on many a bibulous adventure with Tony Adams, Paul Merson and so on, fuelled by pints of Chablis and whisky. He played in two World Cups, including the “Hand of God” game against Argentina in 1986, ascribing the defeat as much to Steve Hodge’s forgetfulness when it came to offside traps as to Diego Maradona. He comes across as a likeable, reflective, self-effacing fellow, whose laddishness doesn’t tip over into outright lairiness or TalkSport gobbishness.

The Spy Who Played for Spartak
by Jim Riordan
4th Estate, £14.99

Reviewed by Tom Davies
From WSC 258 August 2008 

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Football in the Soviet Union held a lurid fascination for many – by turns menacing, exotic, secretive and awe-­inspiring. So it’s something of a surprise that the curious story of the only Englishman to play for a Soviet League club is so little known. Children’s author and Russian studies academic Jim Riordan, then a young British Communist Party member, found himself propelled through political connections and his modest prowess with a Sunday morning expat team into a title-chasing Spartak Moscow side for two league games in the early Sixties, and this is his account.

The Maestro
by Martin Plumb
Ashwater, £27.50

Reviewed by Neil Hurden
From WSC 258 August 2008

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You could rely on one thing at Craven Cottage in the 1970s. At moments of maximum desperation in the Fulham ranks, one of the denizens of the strange, non-Leagueish world of the Stevenage Road Enclosure would inevitably pipe up with the ironic refrain: “Bring on Johnny Haynes!”

How racism, drugs and cancer almost destroyed me
by Paul Canoville

Headline, £7.99

Reviewed by Mike Ticher
From WSC 257 July 2008 

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The only time I’ve been punched in the face at a football match was because of Paul Canoville. I’d like to say it was on account of some courageous protest, but in the early 1980s at Stamford Bridge you only had to clap him to rile his racist tormentors. Canoville was great to watch: an upright, powerful winger with a destructive change of pace. But as Chelsea’s first black player, he was hounded by his own fans on his debut at Crystal Palace in 1982, and long afterwards.

A Biography
by Steve Gordos

Breedon Books, £12.99

Reviewed by Jim Heath
From WSC 257 July 2008 

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Having started to support Wolves almost 40 years ago, I just missed out on the halcyon period between 1949 and 1960 when they won two FA Cups and three League titles. Recent retrospectives on captain Billy Wright and manager Stan Cullis have opened up a new dimension on the era and Steve Gordos’s biography of inside-forward Peter Broadbent, now stricken with Alzheimer’s, adds richly to that seam.

The Willie Miller Story
by Willie Miller with Rob Robertson

Birlinn, £14.99
Reviewed by Neil Forsyth
From WSC 256 June 2008 

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For the uninitiated, Willie Miller is not a mafia overlord but a long-standing servant of Aberdeen, also known as the Dons. Miller played for the club for 19 years, before a spell as manager and his current post as director of football.

by Brian Belton
John Blake, £17.99
Reviewed by David Wangerin
From WSC 256 June 2008 

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We’ll leave it to West Ham fans to decide whether Ade Coker (nine appearances in three seasons), Clive Charles (14 in four) and Clyde Best (174 in seven) represent the “East End Heroes” of the title. But “Stateside Kings”? If anybody associated with America’s egregious pansy sport even approached the status of a sovereign, they certainly weren’t playing for the Boston Minutemen or the Portland Timbers.

The Autobiography
by Tommy Smith

Bantam Press, £18.99

Reviewed by David Stubbs
From WSC 256 June 2008 

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“Anfield Iron” (no sniggering, London readers) is the nickname conferred on the former Liverpool captain who improbably crowned a faltering career in the 1977 European Cup final when he quick-wittedly attached his head to Steve Heighway’s blasted corner and scored the Reds’ second goal. However, although acknowledging his hardness and his willingness to intimidate young wingers by threatening to break their legs, Smith protests that he is a fair player. He was, he says, only cautioned twice in his career (although this has increased to three times by page 394). He was famously suspended for feigning an injury in a Cup-Winners Cup tie against Ferencvaros. However, Smith protests, he was only pretending to go down from a bottle hurled from the crowd having been struck by one minutes earlier, unnoticed. So all was fair, really.

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