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

Headline, £7.99

Reviewed by Mike Ticher
From WSC 257 July 2008 

Buy this book

 


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 

Buy this book

 


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 

Buy this book

 


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 

Buy this book

 


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 

Buy this book

 


“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.

Our George: Family Memoir of George Best
by Barbara Best with Lindy McDowell
Sidgwick & Jackson, £18.99
Reviewed by Joyce Woolridge
From WSC 255 May 2008 

Buy this book

 

 

 

 

 

 

Memories of George Best
by Christopher Hilton & Ian Cole
Sportsbooks, £14.99

Reviewed by Joyce Woolridge
From WSC 255 May 2008 

Buy this book

 




These two very different books share a common theme: how George Best should be remembered, and who should determine how he is remembered. George Best produced four major autobiographies in his lifetime. The last, Blessed, was a serious attempt at putting his side of the story for posterity. In Our George, one of Best’s sisters undertakes to reclaim her brother’s memory on behalf of part of his closest family.

Never turn the other cheek

by Pat Crerand

Harper Sport, £18.99

Reviewed by Ashley Shaw
From WSC 254 April 2008 

Buy this book

 


You would struggle to find a more optimistic Manchester United pundit than Patrick Crerand. Ever bullish about the club’s prospects and reluctant to criticise the team’s poorest displays, he makes an enthusiastic cheerleader and the perfect summariser for MUTV. The title of his autobiography portrays the subject as an uncompromising Scot unafraid of settling an argument with his fists. Yet throughout it throws up surprises. During an appearance on the Kop to take in a Liverpool match in the 1960s, he and some fellow United players suffer Scouse witticisms but no worse, “a contrast with today’s Liverpool supporter”, he suggests.

The Life, Football and Faith of a Soca Warrior
by Marvin Andrews with Tom Brown
Mainstream, £15.99
Reviewed by Alex Anderson
From WSC 254 April 2008 

Buy this book

 


It’s not often you have to read between the lines of the real story to get to the autobiography. If you’ve heard of Marvin Andrews, you’ll know he’s a devout Christian. For him, however, this is all the information you really need. Details of his earthly achievements may eventually wriggle out through the endless evangelical preaching, but they’re merely giving testimony to this book’s real subject: God.

The Autobiography
by Sir Bobby Charlton

Headline, £7.99

Reviewed by Harry Pearson
From WSC 252 February 2008 

Buy this book

 


There was a time during my early childhood when Bobby Charlton was every English boy’s hero, the one who only the finest player on the pitch was allowed to pretend to be. Then along came George Best and suddenly Bobby lost his lustre. He didn’t have long hair (or if he did, only on one side of his head at any rate), he didn’t throw mud at referees, he didn’t run around town in a Jaguar E-type and Chelsea boots. Compared to Best he was boring. And that, pretty much, is where things have remained over the past 40 years: Sir Bobby cast as the lugubrious spinster at football’s wild party.

Football, Faith and Me
by Linvoy Primus with Peter Jeffs
Legendary, £18.99
Reviewed by Matthew Brown
From WSC 252 February 2008 

Buy this book

 


The autobiographies of footballers tend to be much the same: the humble beginnings and boyhood dreams, the youth-team triumphs and early rejections, the lower-league obscurity and later successes. This one is no different, tracing the ups and downs of Linvoy Primus’s life story from his east London childhood to rejection by Charlton to the comings and goings of form, injury, managers and team-mates as he slowly moved up the ranks from Barnet to Reading to Portsmouth.

Sign up to the WSC Weekly Howl - a small portion of despair and enlightenment delivered to your inbox every Friday