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.

Confessions of a Lower League Legend
by Peter Swan with Andrew Collomosse
John Blake, £17.99
Reviewed by Terry Staunton
From WSC 267 May 2009 

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A foreword by Sky’s Helen Chamberlain and further front-loaded testimonials from Gary Speed, Phil “The Power” Taylor and more leave the reader in little doubt that Peter Swan is a “larger than life” character. He goes on to tell us so himself many times, and employs the phrase “joker in the pack” almost as frequently.

Premier League to Prison
by Mark Ward
Football World, £17.99
Reviewed by Mark O'Brien
From WSC 271 September 2009 

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Mark Ward enjoyed a playing career that took in Northwich Victoria, Oldham Athletic, West Ham United, Manchester City, Everton and Birmingham City. He scored a goal in the Merseyside derby and was a key member of the Hammers side that finished third in the 1985-86 season, but what he will always be known for, and probably the only reason his autobiography was commissioned, is the fact that in 2005 he was arrested on drug charges and subsequently received an eight-year jail sentence.

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 Steve Claridge with Ian Ridley
Orion, £18.99
Reviewed by Pete Green
From WSC 271 September 2009 

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One book was never going to be enough for Steve Claridge. While his well-received earlier volume Tales From the Boot Camps told an enjoyable if fairly standard tale of a mostly lower-division pro enjoying glimpses of the big time, this follow-up finds the archetypal journeyman scurrying around the leagues in his late 30s to extend an already epic CV. With some brief but eventful stints in management and a burgeoning media career, there is masses of raw material, and with his co-author and friend Ian Ridley, Claridge has crafted it into another decent read.

The Autobiography
by Sir Bobby Charlton
Headline, £7.99
Reviewed by David Stubbs
From WSC 271 September 2009 

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Following up the first volume of his memoirs My Manchester United Years, this covers the span of Charlton’s international career from 1958 to that anticlimactic moment in 1970, when in his last game for his country he was substituted in the World Cup quarter-final, only to see West Germany overturn a 2-0 lead, taking advantage of Peter Bonetti’s unfeline goalkeeping display.

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.

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.

The Autobiography
by Mike Summerbee & Jim Holden
Century, £18.99
Reviewed by Ian Farrell
From WSC 260 October 2008 

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In an attempt to sell Mike Summerbee’s autobiography beyond a niche market of Manchester City fans, George Best is pictured alongside him on the back cover, while his minor role in Escape to Victory is hyped in the dust-jacket blurb. With few of his great moments – or massive bust-ups – caught on tape, and his eight-cap England career covering little of note, Summerbee’s impact on the collective consciousness is surprisingly slight for such a great player. He will always be thought of in relation to other people: as Best’s best friend in the Swinging Sixties, as one third of the Bell-Lee-Summerbee triumvirate, or as “Nicky’s dad”.

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