by Mickey Thomas
Century, £18.99
Reviewed by Ashley Shaw
From WSC 261 November 2008 

Buy this book

 


By the end of this book it’s difficult not to feel angry with Mickey Thomas. The stench of natural talent wasted for the want of a smidgen of intelligence hangs over most of his career, even if the author appears to have learned his lesson by the book’s close.

A Footballer’s Life
by Mel Sterland with Nick Johnson
Green Umbrella, £18.99
Reviewed by Andy Hockley
From WSC 262 December 2008 

Buy this book

 


Mel “Zico” Sterland was a fine right-back who deserved more England caps than the one he picked up against Saudi Arabia in 1989. Given that there is plenty to say about his career, you might be surprised to learn that the title of this book is not the worst thing about it.

The Autobiography
by Ian Rush
Ebury, £18.99
Reviewed by Robert Fordham
From WSC 263 January 2009 

Buy this book

 


“It’s funny,” Ian Rush says at one point, “how often seemingly inconsequential things seem to stick in your mind for years to come.” As his autobiography ploughs through lists of opponents for pre-season friendlies, “funny” is not the word that comes to mind. Likewise, the dressing-room jokes Rush recalls are often less side-splitting than he supposes. An attempt to dress him up as a “rough-edged youth” made good, off the back of one bungled shoplifting attempt, falls flat.

by Lou Macari
Bantam, £18.99
Reviewed by Jonathan O'Brien
From WSC 263 January 2009 

Buy this book

 


There’s a 30-year-old piece of footage, buried somewhere in the BBC’s archives, of Lou Macari leaning out of the window of the Scotland team bus to talk to Tony Gubba, an hour or so after the 1-1 draw with Iran at the World Cup in Argentina. Despite the awfulness of the result, Macari looks awesomely relaxed, even though you can hear the enraged Scottish fans baying for the team’s blood outside. If his own account in this book is to be believed, the cheekily carefree Macari of 1978 is long gone and not coming back.

The Autobiography
by Denis Smith
Know the Score, £17.99
Reviewed by Andy Thorley
From WSC 264 February 2009 

Buy this book

 


When Stoke beat Arsenal recently, Arsène Wenger became really upset. Stoke’s players, he said, were dirty and tried to injure his side. Thank goodness he didn’t see Denis Smith play. Such is the frequency of the accounts of on-pitch violence that this autobiography of one of the Potters’ greatest ever players reads like a new Danny Dyer show, Naughty Tackles of the 70s.

The Willie Johnston Story
by Tom Bullimore with Willie Johnston
Know the Score, £17.99
Reviewed by Alex Anderson
From WSC 265 March 2009 

Buy this book

 


Featuring the most infamous hay fever remedy ever and 20 red cards in 20 years, Willie Johnston’s career is publishing gold dust. Yet by the end of this structureless, misspelled, style-free trudge of factual inaccuracies, you’re left astounded not by Johnston’s experiences but by author Tom Bullimore’s inability to provide a remotely commensurate book.

The Graham Roberts Story
by Graham Roberts with Colin Duncan
Black and White, £17.99
Reviewed by Archie MacGregor
From WSC 266 April 2009 

Buy this book

 


In the concluding chapter of this book there’s a faintly amusing moment of DIY psychology when it’s declared that: “You either love me or hate me. There’s never been any middle ground with Graham Roberts.” It has to be said that the preceding 240 or so pages of cliche drenched text are unlikely to have inspired many to convert to the former.

The Journey of a Japanese Genius
by Martin Greig
Mainstream, £16.99
Reviewed by Justin McCurry
From WSC 266 April 2009 

Buy this book

 


Though sprightly in parts, Martin Greig’s biography of Japan’s most gifted footballer is too often the victim of the pitfalls inherent in crafting a book around protracted quotations and match reports.

The Biography of  Terry Paine
by David Bull
Hagiology, £19.95
Reviewed by Tim Springett
From WSC 267 May 2009 

Buy this book

 


You can’t accuse the author of this excellent tome of not doing his homework, or loving his subject. David Bull, a retired social policy lecturer and lifelong Southampton fan, has penned a fully authorised biography of the player he considers to have been the best that he ever saw play for the Saints. Paine was certainly a remarkable player: 713 league appearances for Saints as they rose from the Third Division South to the top flight and remained there for eight seasons tell their own story. Likewise the 19 England caps that he won – the last against Mexico in the 1966 World Cup finals – without having kicked a ball in Division One.

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 

Buy this book

 


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.

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