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

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.

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 

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

Reviewed by Joyce Woolridge
From WSC 255 May 2008 

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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 

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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.

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