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

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

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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 

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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 

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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 

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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 

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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 

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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.

by Brad Friedel with Malcolm McClean
Orion, £18.99
Reviewed by David Wangerin
From WSC 268 June 2009 

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No colourful boots for Brad Friedel – no self-aggrandising tattoos, no trophy wife, and certainly no flamboyant hairstyles. But, almost inevitably these days, there is a book. Not that we should begrudge this Premier League stalwart a foray outside his penalty area; indeed, how a collegiate star from Ohio became one of England’s most dependable goalkeepers and a hero of the 2002 World Cup would seem to be a story worth reading.

100 Years of the PFA
by John Harding
Breedon, £18.99
Reviewed by Joyce Woolridge
From WSC 269 July 2009 

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Trade union history is not the easiest of material to turn into an engrossing read. Chronicling the history of the Players’ Union brings an additional challenge, that, in some quarters at least, there is little sympathy for the PFA and its purported defence of irresponsible, greedy players “holding the game to ransom”. Harding’s update of his earlier pioneering PFA official history For The Good of the Game is an unashamedly polemical and timely reminder of why the PFA exists and what it has done for professional football. Written with the same clarity and skill as Harding’s classic biography of Billy Meredith, Football Wizard, and the underrated Living to Play, this book is yet another timely addition to what could be thought of as an ongoing “elevatory project” within football which seeks to counter the stereotype of the “footballer as a thick-headed yokel who needs constant discipline and cannot be trusted to manage his own affairs” as maverick 1970s PFA Chair Derek Dougan put it.

by John Wark
Know The Score, £18.99
Reviewed by Gavin Barber
From WSC 269 July 2009 

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Sometimes it’s the little details that point towards the most interesting aspects of a book. One does not expect the acknowledgements page of John Wark’s autobiography to thank Warner Chappell for permission to reproduce the lyrics to Shirley Bassey’s I Am What I Am. But sure enough, all three verses of Warky’s favourite song are there in the final chapter: we learn that he frequently gives it a spin on the stereo when he gets back from the pub. The image of the legendary hardnut cutting a tipsy rug to this well-known gay anthem is an unexpected one.

Northern and Proud
The Bob Stokoe Story
by Paul Harrison
Know The Score, £17.99
Reviewed by Joe Boyle
From WSC 269 July 2009 

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Left Back In Time
by Len Ashurst
Know The Score, £17.99
Reviewed by Joe Boyle
From WSC 269 August 2009 

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As Sunderland head for next season with another new manager, where are the templates for managerial success on Wearside? Bob Stokoe is the obvious choice but, on the evidence of two recent books, a more nuanced understanding of the club and the game comes from Len Ashurst, another former Sunderland boss.

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