Whatever your colours, read all about it…

Football Books: News and Reviews



Viollet: The Life of a Legendary Goalscorer 0

Posted on September 02, 2011 by samh

Viollet: The Life of a Legendary Goalscorer, by Roy Cavanagh and Brian Hughes (2001)

This book about “Busby Babe” Dennis Viollet puts the often underrated Manchester United striker up there in his rightful place alongside his more famous colleagues.

The authors also tell the story not only of that legendary United team of the 1950s but also about football in general in the post-war years. It was undoubtedly a golden era, but one in which the players earned little more than the people who watched and adored them.

Buy this book from Amazon

The Tommy Taylor Story 0

Posted on September 01, 2011 by samh

The Tommy Taylor Story, by Brian Hughes (1996)

When Tommy Taylor signed for Manchester United from Barnsley in 1953 he was generally regarded as the finishing touch to Sir Matt Busby’s famous Babes.

It had been rumoured that as many as 17 clubs had been chasing the 20 year-old’s signature and United’s fee (£29,999) instantly made Tommy one of the highest profile players in England. But was the Second Division striker worth it? Would he live up to the pressure at Old Trafford where so many before and since have failed? In the event, history records that Tommy went on to score 112 goals in 166 league games, 11 goals in 14 European Cup matches and five in nine FA Cup ties.

Taylor represented England 19 times, scoring 16 goals. He quickly became known among United fans as ‘the Smiling Executioner’, and was an integral part of the Busby Babes side that dominated the English game during the mid-1950s, until tragedy struck in 1958, when he was one of the eight United players who lost their lives in the Munich air disaster.

Buy this book from Amazon

Tappy: From Barry Town to Arsenal, Cardiff City and Beyond 0

Posted on August 29, 2011 by samh

Tappy: From Barry Town to Arsenal, Cardiff City and Beyond, by Derek Tapscott and Terry Grandin (2004)

In April 1954, Derek “Tappy” Tapscott pulled on his Arsenal shirt, made his first-team debut against Liverpool, scored two goals and signalled the start of an extraordinary career.

He tells his life story in an engaging style – growing up in Barry with 15 brothers and sisters, his early days as a forward with Barry Town, then a fateful journey to London, unaware that the Arsenal were keen to sign him and finally returning to Cardiff City.

Tappy relates the many highs and lows in his career, including being signed to play for Wales 48 hours after his Arsenal debut, playing against the “Busby Babes” in their last league game before the Munich air crash, lining up with John Charles against an England side sporting Stanley Matthews and Len Shackleton, and being chased down the pitch by Real Zaragoza defenders for shoulder-charging their keeper when Cardiff City faced them in the Fairs Cup.

Buy this book from Amazon

My Manchester United Years, by Sir Bobby Charlton 0

Posted on August 29, 2011 by samh

My Manchester United Years, by Sir Bobby Charlton (2007)

This book represents the first time England and Manchester United legend Sir Bobby Charlton has told his story, in his own words.

In this, the first volume of his autobiography, he tells of the Munich air disaster of 1958 and the impact the tragedy had on his life and his football. Sir Bobby also charts his extraordinary career as one of the original Busby Babes, who went on to European Cup glory just 10 years after the devastating air crash, which all but wiped out Matt Busby’s young side.

Sir Bobby, who wrote this book in conjunction with award-winning sports journalist James Lawton, also describes his early life growing up in a tight-knit community in Ashington, Northumberland, with brother Jack.

Buy this book from Amazon

Roger Byrne: Captain of the Busby Babes 0

Posted on August 29, 2011 by samh

Roger Byrne: Captain of the Busby Babes, by Iain McCartney (2000)

Manchester United have enjoyed more than their fair share of great players down the years, but none has been more comitted to the cause than Roger Byrne.

Brought up in Gorton, a working-class suburb of Manchester, Byrne was at first a promising wing-half, later even turning out at centre-forward, but he came into his own as a left full-back for United and England. Read more…

When Pele Broke Our Hearts: Wales and the 1958 World Cup 0

Posted on August 29, 2011 by samh

When Pele Broke Our Hearts: Wales and the 1958 World Cup, by Mario Risoli (1998)

This is the story of Wales’ only appearance in the World Cup Finals; it was later reprinted with a new preface by Nicky Wire of the Manic Street Preachers, who loved the book.

Wales managed to get to Sweden in 1958 through the back door, after hostilities in the Middle East meant that Arab teams refused to play Israel. Wales were picked to play them instead, beat them 4-0 over two legs and were on their way to their first and only World Cup – and what is surprising is that this remarkable story had not been fully told before.

Cardiff journalist Risoli’s book reads like an extended newspaper article, which is not a bad thing: the many interviews with the surviving members of the Welsh team make the book more than just a dry history. Their comments and humorous anecdotes make the book come alive, as do appropriate quotes from newspaper reports of the time.

Risoli also includes a lot about the background surrounding the 1958 World Cup, not least the air disaster in Munich shortly before the finals began, which tragically wiped out most of Busby’s Babes. This had a direct effect on the Welsh team, as their manager Jimmy Murphy was also Matt Busby’s assistant at Manchester United; he had to act as United manager too, and instead of celebrating Wales’ achievement he was mourning United’s loss: “He was doing the job of four men…As a result he was not as well prepared for the World Cup as he could have been”.

The backgrounds of each of the players is also interesting; the point is made that they were worlds apart from the stars of the Brazilian team. They still are: in their retirement, many of them still live in Wales, a good number of them in Swansea. All of this crystallises the strong sense of identity in the Welsh team, due to their close-knit roots and the fact nobody gave them a prayer in the tournament.

But they ground out good results again Sweden, Mexico and Hungary in a punishing schedule, and reached the quarter-finals, where they were to play Brazil. The rest is history, as they say, and the title of the book gives you some clue as to the outcome. But Wales were resilient, and were only just edged out by a team of legends. This meticulously researched book makes this story seem not all that long ago, even when some of the players are long gone and the black and white photographs have faded.

Review by Sam Hawcroft

Buy this book from Amazon

Harry’s Game: An Autobiography 0

Posted on August 28, 2011 by samh

Harry’s Game: An Autobiography, by Harry Gregg, Andy Walsh and Richard Kurt (2002)

Has there ever been a period in any football club’s history as perplexing as the 1950s and 1960s at Manchester United? The Munich air crash dominated everything else.

Millions of fans also remember the rise of the Busby Babes, the dark years of the early 1960s, and the glorious renaissance of the Best, Law and Charlton era.

Goalkeeper Harry Gregg was at the very centre of this phenomenal era, a vital participant in all the club’s dramas. This book tells the inside story of one of the most important years of the world’s biggest club. Gregg was an important political figure at Manchester United, a leader of the old guard and one of Matt Busby’s closest “boys”. He tells of the triumphs of the Babes, the 1958 Cup run, and the continent-conquering Sixties rebirth. He also looks at the darker days, misdeeds and boardroom moves as the Edwards dynasty tightened its grip.

Buy this book from Amazon

Big Fry: Barry Fry – The Autobiography 0

Posted on August 24, 2011 by samh

Big Fry: Barry Fry – The Autobiography, by Barry Fry with Phil Rostron (2001)

Barry Fry is one of the most colourful characters in English football.

His journeyman career has taken him to Old Trafford, where as a player he was one of the original Busby Babes, through to football management at Barnet, Southend, Birmingham and Peterborough, among other clubs. Wherever he goes, “Bazza” has a knack of making the headlines.

Among others who feature in Barry Fry’s all-encompassing career in the game are George Graham, Bobby Charlton, Tommy Docherty, Ron Atkinson and Alex Ferguson. Whether it’s tax evasion, fraud, transfer bribes or chicanery in the dressing room, Barry Fry has experienced it all as a player, manager and club owner.

Buy this book from Amazon

  • Abebooks.co.uk

    Bored at Work? Download an eBook instantly!



↑ Top