Reviews from When Saturday Comes. Follow the link to buy the book from Amazon.

An Anthology Of Modern Football Writing
edited by Christopher Davies
Know the Score, £19.99
Reviewed by Terry Staunton
From WSC 265 March 2009 

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That title’s not the best pun you’ve ever read, is it? Not nearly as clever, witty or inspired as sports headlines can be, but it’s the first word that’s the main problem: what does it say about a book when the authors are seemingly apologising on the cover? Perhaps it’s unfair to be too petty when it comes to charity projects, and a cause such as Great Ormond Street Hospital (which benefits from sales of this book) is the epitome of worthy, but the Football Writers Association’s idea of inviting nearly 70 journalists to pen a fresh piece on any aspect of the game they choose was bound to be somewhat hit-and-miss.

Titan Books, £12.99
Reviewed by Harry Pearson
From WSC 266 April 2009 

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As a boy I always resented those bits of the comic annual that were given over not to the strips but to solid blocks of text, what my mother would term “proper stories”. It struck me that, like the bizarre habit of putting hard centres in boxes of chocolates, this was just another adult way of limiting a child’s enjoyment of life.

The Story of the Footballers' Battalion in the Great War
by Andrew Riddoch & John Kemp
Haynes, £19.99
Reviewed by Harry Pearson
From WSC 267 May 2009 

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Football folk are fond of commenting that some event – a natural disaster, terrorist outrage, loss of a relative to disease – has “put things in perspective”. And you can almost guarantee that five minutes later they’ll once again be arguing about a penalty decision as if their life depended on it.

Saturday Afternoons in Front of the Telly
by Jeff Stelling
Harper Sport, £15.99
Reviewed by Roger Titford
From WSC 270 August 2009 

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Not long ago I bought a remaindered copy of Barry Davies’ autobiography, Interesting, Very Interesting. “Toe-curling, very toe-curling” would have been more appropriate. Likewise, Jeff Stelling has drawn from the well of his own commentary for a title. In his case he confesses the pun on the Mansfield defender’s name was many months premeditated and this tells you all you need to know about his (or hopefully his ghost’s) style. But the truth is both Barry and Jeff are among my very favourite football broadcasters. Stelling has created in Soccer Saturday the only programme where I prefer the Sky offering to the BBC and he has used it as a platform to half-escape the backwater of satellite TV for Channel 4’s Countdown.

by Adam Riches
Mainstream, £19.99
Reviewed by Frank Plowright
From WSC 271 September 2009 

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We all know Roy of the Rovers, and more recently Striker, but memories of further football heroes from comics are murky. The many hours spent by Adam Riches poring through the comics in the National Publication Archives make him the man to fill us in.

The Biography
by Joel Miller
John Blake, £17.99
Reviewed by Paul Doyle
From WSC 247 September 2007 

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Good things about this book include: the high standard of spelling; functionally correct grammar; and the fact that if you dropped it from a great height on to the head of the person who recommended it to you, it would do serious damage. Beyond that, the highest praise you could give it is that it reads like an extended Wikipedia entry, a broadly efficient collation of information already in the public domain. If you think that makes it worth almost 18 of your English pounds, then you presumably pay for WSC with wheelbarrows of gold. Well done.

The Autobiography

Norman Whiteside
Headline, £18.99
Reviewed by Joyce Woolridge
From WSC 249 November 2007 

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It’s June 1991, and Norman Whiteside won’t get out of bed. His fearless attitude on the pitch inspired a Manchester United fanzine, The Shankhill Skinhead, but he spends his “bed-in” crying, unable to come to terms with the reality that he is finished as a footballer at 26. So begins Determined, his autobiography, and he spares readers none of the harrowing details as he traces how a series of medical decisions, made in good faith and often the standard treatment then available, had, as he puts it, “done for him” by the time he was 18. By that tender age he is unable to rotate his hips, giving him his trademark robotic-style run, has lost his pace, and has a knee in which bone grinds against bone. Chips will henceforth regularly flake off into the joint, causing excruciating pain, swelling it up to the size of a swede, necessitating further surgery. Injuries used to be discussed in macho style in football autobiographies, an inevitable consequence of a man’s game, the honourable scars of battle. The recent trend of revealing the pain, both physical and mental, of professional football is refreshing and welcome, if often difficult to read without wincing.

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.

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 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.

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