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Power, Corruption and Pies: A Decade of the Best Football Writing from When Saturday Comes

Posted on August 29, 2011 by samh

Power, Corruption and Pies: A Decade of the Best Football Writing from When Saturday Comes, edited by Doug Cheeseman, Andy Lyons and Mike Ticher (1997)

If anything was directly responsible for promoting the intelligent side of football literature, it was WSC.

It finally found the high street in 1988, having begun in 1986 as a fanzine only available from specialist outlets. This collection follows on from The First Eleven, which brings together the first 11 issues of WSC.

Power, Corruption and Pies is serious, funny and weird – covering such fans’ concerns as terracing safety and hooliganism as well as anecdotes about Ron Atkinson’s legs. One gets a crushing sense of hindsight, too; the book starts with a ranting editorial from 1988 about the proposed sponsorship of the FA Cup. If only we’d known then that that was just the tip of the iceberg. Similarly, Annelise Jespersen’s article (also from 1988) about the woeful ground safety administration at Tottenham evokes a horrible flashforward to the following year’s tragic events. Hillsborough did not happen out of the blue; it was a tragedy waiting to happen, as most supporters could foresee – WSC was one of the first outlets for fans to bring issues to the attention of a wider audience.

On a lighter note, WSC increased the popularity of writers such as Harry Pearson, whose three-part satirical look at football nostalgia is included in true Monty Python “we used to lick t’road wi’ our tongues” style.

The collection also provides Nick Hornby a platform for defending media criticism of his Fever Pitch, which has been blamed, ridiculously, for both making the game more ‘bourgeois’ and middle-class, while at the same time encouraging lager-louts and ‘new-laddism’.

By 1995, the football magazine market had escalated to gigantic proportions, yet WSC stood out as the intelligent alternative among garish comics with pretty boys like Beckham and Giggs gracing the covers. But this had not reached its peak, as WSC predicted: “If England have done well [in Euro ’96] and look to be on course for the 1998 World Cup, expect a media frenzy to dwarf even the obsessive level of coverage devoted to the game in the past year: there’ll be daily newspapers for each League club, and Terry Venables will be in every TV commercial…”. If you think football has gone stark staring bonkers in the past few years, this book is your tonic.

Review by Sam Hawcroft

Buy this book from Amazon

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