Classic football literature

Steve Field appreciates of I See It All by Gil Merrick, the former Birmingham City and England goalkeeper

This book has a curiously casual approach to games and events long since regarded as seminal. You would expect some acknowledgment that 23 England appearances in goal – all between 1952 and 1954 – was, for a Second Division player, rather an unusual record. Or that setting up the Nat Lofthouse strike which con­firmed the “Lion of Vienna” legend was a notable achievement, or even that the 6-3 Wembley defeat against Hungary in 1953 actually took place. The explanation probably lies somewhere between Gilbert Merrick’s famed coolness and a clearly hurried printing deadline hot on the heels of the World Cup cam­paign which ended his international career.

Mike Ticher celebrates the annual bible of facts and figures

There is a mistake on page 158 of the 1979-80 Rothmans Football Yearbook. It maintains that on March 27, 1979, Crystal Palace played a 1-1 draw with Crystal Palace.

Neil Dixe Wills discovers the life and times of Jimmy Seed, through his classic autobiography

“Eventually there will be a soccer League of Nations with clubs flying off to South America in little more time than it would take Newcastle to travel to Plymouth by train. These days may not be realised in my time, but they are coming.” Meet Jimmy Seed: child soldier, double title-winner, leviathan of The Valley and, judging by the statement above, pretty useful soothsayer.

Neil Wills reads Tom Finney's book from 1958 and cannot help but think that, despite certain differences, parts of the game remain the same

An evil press fabricates stories to provoke trouble. Players are paid to throw games. England’s administrators are out of touch with reality. Italian football is dogged by too many foreign signings and the chican­ery of top industrialists. The skewed allocation of Cup final tickets leads to a healthy market for touts. Fans invade the pitch to assault players, and talk of a Eur­opean super league continues unabated. Welcome to 1958.

John Williams comes off his line smartly to grab a chunk of goalkeeping history

I’m not sure how it is with you, but when I think back to childhood footballing days, things seem decidedly hazy. Detailed accounts of the hours we spent playing and watching are pretty much beyond me now.

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