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Football Books: News and Reviews

Archive for ‘Culture’

Spitting in the Wind: An Alternative View of Newcastle United 0

Posted on January 16, 2012 by samh

Spitting in the Wind: An Alternative View of Newcastle United, by Billy FuriousSpitting in the Wind, the latest book by ranter extraordinaire Billy Furious, aka Kriss Knights, represents two decades of “crackpot ramblings” on Newcastle United.

As a collection of fanzine articles (some previously unpublished and others with updated comments added with the benefit of hindsight), it is a haphazard and outspoken volume. At first glance, you could be forgiven for thinking it’s just another one of those badly produced, badly written amateur books in dire need of a proofreader and editor. While some of this may be true, certainly with reference to the production (which Furious’s website admits is “irreverent, sweary, often drunk and lacking in a basic understanding of any punctuation that [isn’t] a exclamation mark”), don’t let that put you off – this Billy bloke has a way with words that had me hooked from the start, and I’m not even a Magpies fan. Read more…

Football: A Short History, by Matthew Taylor 0

Posted on December 04, 2011 by samh

This is a slim volume, but then it is called ‘a short history’. At just 64 pages, it might not seem possible to cover in great detail the history of the game, but the conciseness of this book (published in October 2011) is what makes it attractive, as well as the many illustrations in what is an attractive layout.

Taylor starts with the origins of association football, which lie “in the chaotic and unregulated forms of folk football popular throughout Britain from the Middle Ages”, before discussing the split between the amateur and professional games. Read more…

October round-up 0

Posted on October 31, 2011 by samh

Nostalgia is always popular with football fans, and the rather lengthily titled Those Were The Games: A Nostalgic Look at a Century of Great Football Matches (When Football Was Football), released on October 6, promises a look back at “fascinating football matches from the last 100 years”, including the ‘White Horse’ FA Cup final of 1923.

Tim Quelch’s Underdog: Fifty Years of Trials and Triumphs with Football’s Also-Rans, published on October 14, looks back over a lifetime of watching struggling teams around the country, including some non-league teams. It’s a personal tale that also highlights the changing times and has been hailed as “a major work” by Backpass magazine.

Read more…

We Are Celtic Supporters, by Richard Purden 0

Posted on September 21, 2011 by samh

We Are Celtic Supporters, by Richard Purden, with a foreword by Rod Stewart (2011)

This book, published in September 2011, examines what created the culture, ideas and beliefs around Celtic football club. Author Richard Purden travels the world to find fans far and wide, from the ordinary to the celebrity. And there are indeed a wealth of the latter – as well as rocker Rod Stewart, who writes the foreword, there are exclusive interviews with famous fans such as Billy Connolly, Jim Kerr and Noel Gallagher. Read more…

When Saturday Comes: The Half Decent Football Book 0

Posted on September 02, 2011 by samh

When Saturday Comes: The Half Decent Football Book (2005)

This comprehensive A-Z covers all aspects of the beautiful game, from ‘abandoned matches’ to ‘Wrexham FC’ via celebrity fans, mascots, pitch invasions and the Bosman ruling.

Every club in the English League and the Scottish League has a separate entry, Fifa, Uefa, the PFA and the Football Supporters’ Association are covered, and the murkier areas of football such as boardroom politics and match-fixing are explored and explained with When Saturday Comes’ inimitable mix of humour and intelligence. It’s all the discerning fan needs to be reminded why football is still (against the odds) the people’s game.

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A Game of Two Halves: A Collection of the World’s Greatest Football Writing 0

Posted on September 01, 2011 by samh

A Game of Two Halves: A Collection of the World’s Greatest Football Writing, edited by Stephen F Kelly (1992)

Apart from the clichéd title, this book includes some first-class writing and is thoughtfully compiled in sections dedicated to all aspects of football.

Editor Kelly shows a keen eye for good writing, choosing some writers not widely known for writing about football. George Orwell’s famous attack on international sport, The Sporting Spirit, is included, as are short works by Albert Camus, Ted Hughes, Alan Sillitoe, H. E. Bates, Harold Pinter and J. B. Priestley. There’s even a football-related extract from Hancock’s Half Hour. Read more…

We Are Tottenham: Voices from White Hart Lane 0

Posted on September 01, 2011 by samh

We Are Tottenham: Voices from White Hart Lane, by Martin Cloake and Adam Powley (2004)

Rodney Marsh once infamously dubbed them ‘the worst fans in Britain’, but ‘fickle’ is the more familiar label applied to supporters of Tottenham Hotspur. But who are these seemingly forever unhappy fans?

We Are Tottenham puts Spurs supporters at the centre of the tale of a dramatic season at White Hart Lane, one in which fans’ hero Glenn Hoddle was axed after only six games, and the club faced a fight for its reputation. The book aims to expose the myth of the ‘average football fan’, providing a compelling account of the joy, frustration and absurdity of following a Premiership club. It uses the events and themes of the 2003-04 campaign to address the issues that matter to many football fans today, from the dominance of money to the passions of a local derby.

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Sweet FA, by Graham Kelly 0

Posted on August 29, 2011 by samh

Sweet FA, by Graham Kelly with Bob Harris (1999)

“A fascinating insight into football’s corridors of power” is promised on the front cover of this book.

This all depends, really, on how interested you are in the insider wranglings and alleged dodgy dealings of the Football Association, the Football League and the Premiership. Graham Kelly was at the heart of most of it, and so he has as good a right as anybody to lift the lid on it all; and the first question most people will have is: is he as boring on paper as he is in real life? Read more…

Striker, by Hunter Davies 0

Posted on August 29, 2011 by samh

Striker, by Hunter Davies (1992)

In this satire on the football autobiography, Hunter Davies highlights the 1990s clash between the old values of traditional working-class football and the game which had suddenly become fashionable again and which was attracting new legions of middle-class fans.

The central character is Joe Swift, whose upbringing was the stuff of “TV documentaries where they eat their babies, keep pigeons in the bath and have coal butties for breakfast”: he lived in “the worst council estate on the worst estate in the whole of County Durham”. Davies deliberately creates a stereotypical character; Joe symbolises every ordinary boy plucked from a deprived area to go on to stardom. Read more…

Steak… Diana Ross: Diary of a Football Nobody 0

Posted on August 29, 2011 by samh

Steak… Diana Ross: Diary of a Football Nobody, by David McVay (2003)

This book opens on a rubbish tip that doubles for a training ground littered with refuse engineers – known in those distant pre-politically correct days of 30 years ago as dustmen – and ends, more or less, at Elland Road, home of Leeds United and the European Cup finalists the previous season.

The diaries of David McVay, written during his formative years as a teenager with Notts County during the 1970s, invite readers on an undulating and nostalgic soccer sojourn that can never be repeated in the context of the modern game. Read more…

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