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Archive for ‘Fiction’


Alfie Jones and a Change of Fortune, by David Fuller 0

Posted on April 27, 2012 by samh

It’s not often that children’s football books are reviewed here, but Alfie Jones and a Change of Fortune is a worthy exception. This book, aimed at young children aged about 7-10, is the first in a planned series focusing on football-mad Alfie and his friends.

The story, by FA-qualified football coach David Fuller, who coaches a youth team in Brighton, manages to tap into not only the enduring popularity of football but also of Harry Potter-style fantasy, which is still very much in vogue.

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…

Philosophy Football 0

Posted on August 29, 2011 by samh

Philosophy Football, by Mark Perryman (1997)

This book describes a spoof football team of philosophers and their thoughts on the game.

The team consists of Camus, Baudrillard, Simone de Beauvoir, Gramsci, Wittgenstein, Nietzsche, Sun Tzu, Oscar Wilde, Umberto Eco, Shakespeare and Bob Marley. The strengths and weaknesses of each player are described and analysed in footballing terms.

On the upside, this was an interesting idea, which sought to point out that football has many more cultural links than swearing, pies and beer bellies – but on the downside, it offered every pub bore and nouveau fan a platform to occupy the moral high ground with their “intelligent” take on the game. The book spawned a whole new marketing opportunity to sell football shirts to the more refined fan (and university students). There are a wealth of shirts now on sale adorned with the names of such luminaries as the above – and more.

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Own Goals, by Phil Andrews 0

Posted on August 29, 2011 by samh

Own Goals, by Phil Andrews (1999)

When City’s star Italian footballer is accused of sexual assault by a glamorous model, the media has a field day.

The northern Premiership club secretary thinks they’ve been framed and employs private detective Steve Strong to investigate. He soon discovers there is something more sinister afoot than a sex scandal.

This is a fast-paced, modern and readable book that is perfect to while away a long journey – which is not to belittle its achievement: Andrews has a knack for real page-turning writing which never bores. The story may be a little far-fetched, but that is its appeal. Raymond Chandler for the Loaded generation.

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Manchester Buccaneers: The Diary of a Manchester United Fan, aged 12, from Tampa Bay 0

Posted on August 28, 2011 by samh

Manchester Buccaneers: The Diary of a Manchester United Fan, aged 12, from Tampa Bay, by Adrian Sherling (2006)

THIS is a satirical diary of a young American soccer fan who supports Malcolm Glazer’s new Manchester Buccaneers.

Roswell P Shambling is an American youngster who likes Malcolm Glazer and has decided to support Manchester United (or Manchester as he calls them).

From his home in Tampa, he follows all the latest developments of his new team, commenting on what he believes Sir Ferguson should do, worrying about Ferdinand Rio getting into a bar brawl in the northern English town of Sweden (and why would he be there when Manchester is in the south?), sadly watching his beloved Roy Keano leave and questioning why he never played for England, delighting in watching Manchester take on the Russian side London Chelseas and seeing the Roonaldo brothers succeed… Through his website, Roswell attempts to spread the word about Manchester and their successes and failures against teams such as Tott Nam (made up predominantly of young Vietnamese players).

A great antidote for any Manchester United hater, or United fans disillusioned by recent events.

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Goodnight Vienna, by Phil Andrews 0

Posted on August 27, 2011 by samh

Goodnight Vienna, by Phil Andrews (2000)

England’s soccer coach is under pressure to resign – the team’s poor showing in the World Cup qualifiers is evoking such hostile press and mail that private investigator Steve Strong is hired to protect him.

From London to Vienna, the trail goes to England’s last match for which Strong must keep the coach alive.

Following on from the success of 1999’s Own Goals, this is another cracking football fiction book from Andrews, a sports journalist. There are even more hi-jinks than in the previous book, plus an exciting conclusion which will have you glued to the pages. This fast-paced page-turner doesn’t pretend to be anything other than what it is: a good story, well told and very entertaining. Perfect for the beach or a boring train ride.

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4-4-3, by Eamonn Murphy and Jeremiah Scanlon 0

Posted on August 22, 2011 by samh

4-4-3, by Eamonn Murphy and Jeremiah Scanlon (2005)

THIS is a novel about a park football team, the grass-roots players who play on municipal parks up and down the country every weekend come rain or shine – not the pampered and overpaid professionals we normally read about in the tabloids.

It charts the exploits of four school friends, Brad, Mickey, Shea and Tommy, who happened to meet on their very first day at school. Read more…

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