A Fitbawbags Guide to Fitba Literature # 7 – The Fifty Book Challenge- The Supplementary Cast

Now that I am home the challenge is over. Set the bar a bit too low at fifty as I manged over another half as many on top . Then again I was away for longer than I expected. I definitely excelled myself though. No doubt about it. Seventy six fitba books read in one hundred and seventeen days is a pretty impressive going if I do say for myself. I read some of the best books I have ever read, I read some run of the mill books and unfortunately read some total dirge. But a highly enjoyable random idea to keep me occupied during a hellishly long trip, inclusive of being locked up for weeks in quarantine with nothing but my thoughts (and an easily bribeable booze delivery guy). Maybe now I am home I will switch topics for a while , World Wars, explorers, rocker biographies in order to top up the fitba book pile again, as it has taken a fair dent over the last four months.

The following books were powered by addiction like levels of Yorkshire Tea, Foxs Glacier Fruits, the sounds of the likes of GBH, Warrior Soul, Skid Row, Testament and Exodus and a will to get home to Wee Man and the Banks o’ Dee-er. The last two were washed down by a few Kronenburg in Charles de Gaulle airport. Once again I have lifted the reviews straight from Twitter.

50+1- Man Friday, The First Half – Stuart Kane (2020)

7/10

Few days break from the books watching classic films (Witchfinder General, stupendous). Back on the written word now. I have always said, if I had a time machine one of the things I would do is go back and watch Robin Friday play. The ultimate cult figure. This is a hybrid. It’s a fiction book based on non-fiction. Basically Robins Reading career in a story. I liked it. The man immortalised by the Super Furry Animals has his Royals life told in a story form. Being a big fan of Robin and read enough to know the facts.These facts are held together with other wee bits to keep the story flowing. Think, if someone’s life was made into a film. This is how this book works. It’s creative and an enjoyable read. Second part coming? The Cardiff years, jail and death? The book title suggests maybe. Good to hear this was written off the back of reading “The Greatest Player You Never Saw”. One of my favourite fitba books.

“On the pitch I hate all opponents. I don’t give a damn about anyone. People think I am a mad lunatic. I am just a winner” – Robin Friday

50+2 – The Frying Pan of Spain – Colin Millar (2019)

8/10

After it coming up in conversation I thought I would give it a go. That and Sevilla are rocking the UEFA cup again. Glad I did. Quality stuff. One of those more than a fitba book jobs. It’s a history of the city too. From Sevilla and their debatable foundation date, the merger that started Real Betis Balompie this book takes you through the entire histories of both clubs, the start of the rivalry, civil war, relegations, Maradona, Denilson, UEFA Cups, Joaquin and more, its full of great info. People who don’t like in depth histories, be warned it not for you as this is a big book and is very well researched and very time consuming. Perfect for me as that what I want to read. Colins account definitely shows a passion for his work, the city of Seville and the football within it. Estádio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan has been top of my bucket list for a while. After reading this I may just stay a week and get a game at both grounds when I go. Quality read

50+3 – Cairos Ultras – Ronnie Close (2020)

4/10

Had high hopes, but unfortunately not. The opening of the book is good Talking about the alliance between Al Ahly Ultras (UA07) and hated rivals Zamalek (UWK) during the revolution against Hosni Mubarek and again after the harrowing goings on in Port Said a year later. The Port Said massacre cannot even be comprehended and the details are there but then…..The book goes all over the place. It dives into history of Ultras as Italian, bypassing Argentinian teams, Brazilian teams and if course Hadjuk Split. It’s lacklustre. Then the speil about celtic fans and their anti fascist-anti bigotry and anti racist stance was just laughable. Clearly read out of a supporters group manifesto. How about speaking to Shay Logan, Max Lowe(mistaken for Logan) and even going back to Mark Walters. Aleksandr Tonev for god sake??? As for the bigotry. “Stepping out of the sectarian ghetto”, ” far from the sectarian fault lines”, “now orientated towards contemporary cultural values”. The author has clearly read words with no experience. He follows up that trend with saying UEFA continually punishing. Celtic (8 times) is double standards as if they are freedom fighters. Charged “for taking a political stance”. Look up the charges before you ink your quill and let your belly rumble min. From here the book changes. It turns into a pit of academic crap trap and renders the book a non fitba book. Was the point of the book to get across that Ultras are powerful. Yes he succeeds in that early doors but the book forgets that it’s a fitba book. It masquerades as what looks to be a uni paper. Disappointed after a good start. The four is from that first two chapters only for the record.

50+4- John McGovern, My Story – John McGovern (2019)

7/10

The best player never to be capped for Scotland? John McGovern will be many people answer. Fine easy read this. Brian Cloughs go to guy. Four times signed by ol Big ‘ed which shows how good John must have been. Hartlepool to Derby to Leeds to Forest then Bolton he went. The books good as it give his opinion of Clough which is good to see it from another angle rather than in book about Clough. McGovern would have ran through a wall for him it seems and was the father figure he never had. Also good to hear his views on no Scotland caps. He takes it well and knows his career was very good but also realises “even one cap would have been the icing on the cake”. Incredible that Ally MacLeod didn’t know he was Scottish. The highlight of the book is the Forest days which comes as no surprise. To captain the team to the holy grail twice when it was a real tournament without Qatari, Emirati or bogging juice interest and was just the champions is no mean feat. The book also has great anecdotes too, winding up Alan Ball, Archie Gemmil and the champagne, out in Amsterdam. A decent easy read if you see it. Oh aye and he’s pals with AC/DC. Nice

50+5 – Head To Head – Jaap Stam (2001)

6/10

The book that supposedly led to Fergies self proclaimed biggest error in the game. Well late to the party on this one. Especially since I think Jaap is one of the finest defenders I have seen. Early pops at Alan Hansen and David Pleat were a good start. Interesting to see what he makes of transfer fees of the modern day after saying Man United paying ten million for him is more than any player should be worth. The book starts with the struggle to get to Man United with PSV playing hardball. (Chelsea and Liverpool also were sniffing). From there it describes his ropey first few games and then becoming the best defender in the country and winning that historic treble. Very little on any other parts of his career, Zwolle, Cambuur, Willem II, PSV. Pretty much based around Man United and Netherlands. It’s an honest account with good wee tales of wanting to thump “arrogant tossers” Mario Basler and Lothar Matthaus” in Barcelona, Fillipo Inzaghi being his “least favourite players in the game”, crediting Batistuta for being ace and the World Club Cup over FA Cup debacle. I am still trying to work out the Fergie Fury inducing controversial remark. Fergie tapping up maybe? Fergie telling his players to go down like Europeans? I’m not sure. Still one of my favourite players to this day. A tough old school hard unit. Bit like myself (ahem). Seems like a pretty level headed dude, however he did say Gary Neville would make a good manager. Ooops

50+6 – Do You Speak Football – Tom Williams (2018)

10/10

Brilliant

A book on world fitba terminology. Bloody brilliant idea for a book and brilliantly pulled off. I’m basically going to reel off a heap at random . It’s 10/10. I don’t need to big it up anyore. Go out and buy this book.

Viveza – Sharpness of bending the rules (ARG) .Me as a player pretty much.

Onde dorme a coruja- Where the Owl sleeps, meaning in the top corner, (BRA)

Pipoqueiro-Popcorn man is a man who allows big games to pass him by without influence. (BRA) I know a manager like that.

Ratón – Mouse, a coach or team who suffer for their own defensiveness. (CHI) see above

Tácticá de Murciélago-bat tactics, a team who defend so deep they are like bats hanging off the crossbar(ECU)

Gordie Howe Hatrick – Score, set up,get sent off (CAN).NHL term and I like NHL

Cuauhtemiña – Remember Blancos “toad jump” in France 98. Mexicans call it this (MEX)

Bartolo- Clogger(COL) plenty of them in Scotland

Holzgeschnitzter- Wooden carving, large and clumsy player with lack of skill(AUT) Scotland again

Bundesligahår- Mullet (DEN)

Reducer – Early tackle to sort someone out (ENG) sadly a dying art

Pihkatappi-Faecal Plug, the defensive midfielder(FIN)

Kampfschwein- Battle pig (GER) Think Lee Richardson

Lepkevadász – Butterfly Hunter, flapping goalkeeper(HUN)

Bidone-Rubbish bin, poor foreign signing(ITA)

The Yankisms are daft. But I wouldn’t expect anything less.

Glad “Heid the Ba” got in. Frequently. Used by myself

Looking to name your new band? Some great words found in this

This really is an ace book. I read it in a oner. Fascinating and amusing. Excellent work

The highlight though…….. Ladies and gentlemen……… from Nigeria. Dundee United – Idiot

50+7 – The Expected Goal Theory – James Tippet (2019)

6/10

Not sure what to make of this. The Expected Goals Philosophy is….. ” is a metric which assesses every chance, essentially answering the question of whether a player should have scored from a certain opportunity”. This theory supposedly makes a lot of money for gamblers. I kind of get it but I also see it as pointless. It’s about adding a value to each chance created to show you you how likely a team is to score. Rather than how many they score. But then this is where I find it’s daft. There must be many many occasions where it fails. How many times have you seen a game and though “that should have been 5 or 6” and it was one. Or worse you lost 2-1 or drew. What it is a good indicator for is how good your creative players are and how much they set up. Moneyball/Oakland As theory. Beneficial when trying that no doubt. Another thing is it proves your team has played well but lacked the finishing touch. It’s insignificant as fitba is results driven and goals make results. The book itself smacks of “you cannot discredit this”. It’s a bit too pro the philosophy. But fair play, the author believes in it and he’s gone to writing a book on it. Hats off. Just not sure the philosophy is totally for me. I do see some benefits though. There will be some who buy into it. For me, elements of it maybe, but a lot I do not. Quick read if anyone does want to give it a bash to see what it’s all about. It’s worth it for a wee understanding. The scouting chapter (Moneyball) is good. Proof is in the pudding with Brentford rise who adopt a similar strategy.

50+8 – Why Are We Always On Last – Paul Armstrong (2019)

8/10

The story of author Paul Armstrongs over a quarter of a century career beind the fitba cameras. I liked this. It was a good look behind the scenes. From editing Match of the Day for 15 years and multiple World Cups. This is a captivating read. A career spanning 30 years working his way up took him to being the man who kept one of fitbas most famous institutions together. Yet not many will have heard of him. It’s quite the career and one I would loved to have had. His ability to tell his stories like a fan make this book. Trainee to helping on a Question of Sport, to being at Hillsborough, editing opening montages for tournaments and Cup finals, Olympics, working with Stubbs, Hansen, Lawrenson, Shearer. His anecdotes of Brian Clough, Peter Schmeichel, Ian Wright and Clarence Seedorf are a good laugh. It’s a quick read but ticks all the right boxes. Full recommended. It’s amusing, it’s written well, it’s moving, it’s easy to read in one(which I did) , it’s just a great book. Godfrey sounds like a hoot

50+9 – Against the Elements – Matt McGinn (2020)

8/10

I have picked good books on the whole so far. This continues the trend. From being also rans who used to take hidings the size of Malta and San Marino to the World Cup. This is the story of the nation taking their future into their own hands and improving. This is the tale of the people of Iceland and their “rest when they are dead attitude”. This transferred into fitba. With influence from Norway they set about changing the infrastructure so kids had somewhere to play, this is about the coaching and the effort put in to improving. The book jumps about a bit from speaking to natives, to players, coaches, to the author spending Iceland World Cup matches in different places. Including on a trawler. Its a cracker. Fitba yes but also history/travel. Very engaging and full of wee facts about the Island. I would say the Icelandic tourist board should be due Matt a percentage of commission because I want to go now after reading and I’m sure others would feel the same. Good too see Lars Lagerback getting the credit he was due. But there is a lot more to the story of Iceland than him.

Nice early mention of Aberdeen and their 10-0 victory over KR in 67. Never realised Jens Petersen being present added to the shame of the result given the ill feeling between Iceland and Denmark

Roll on corona pissing off, I fancy a Valur game(first non Scottish team I ever saw in the flesh).

50+10 – The Overcoat Men – Mark Hodkinson

8/10

To be honest I never thought I would read a book on the history of Rochdale AFC. I also never thought I’d be 200 days without a game. Here we are on both counts. An in depth look at Rochdale AFC and the history of Rochdale the place too. It kept me hooked. Formed in 1907 the club have seen ups and downs as has the town itself (during the industrial revolution the average life expectancy was 31) which I am sure a lot of towns/clubs in the area suffered from. A lot of doom and gloom lets say. This book captures it all. Amateurish running of the club for long spells and the chairmen. Interesting stuff. When you get to the “Overcoat Men” part its the best section of the book. The story of the club escaping extinction from dastardly backhandedness which I wont go in to. A totally random pick but a good one. You certainly don’t need to be a Dale fan to enjoy it. It almost has a TV drama type feel to it. A well written book. Highly enjoyable.

50+11 – Trapattoni, A Life in Football – Egon Theiner and Elisabeth Schlammerl (2008)

4/10

This book is a fail. It’s far to fast at you. His playing career is squeezed into forty one pages.This despite the man winning serie A twice, the Coppa Italia once, ECWC and twice the European Cup with one of the great all time performances up against Eusebio. Then thirty six years of coaching in 132 pages. With his first six clubs whizzed past despite fifteen major trophies in that time(44 pages). It’s just not in depth enough. The great old boys CV is excellent and needs justice done for it. It’s a shame as there could be a great book written on him. A book on a guy with twenty six major trophies as player and manager and many more(super cups etc) is worthy of better. I had high hopes now but it fell flat. However I will be trying his daily keeping the cold away method when I’m home. An espresso in the morning and a Witbier at night. I talk about pages but it’s also worth mentioning the text is huge making even less to read.

50+12 – The Second Half – Roy Keane (2014)

7/10

I bought this ages ago. Before I took a dislike to him and his pantomime villain, unanalytical and just tying to be controversial style punditry which really makes him look like a twat. It’s good and honest as was the first instalment. Haaland, he just can let go with the book opening with getting stuck in to him and calling him a prick. This after explaining the hearing over chapter one (150k fine, ooof). Interesting to hear him respecting his old team mates, Forlan, Ruud, Ronaldo. Maybe that’s due to his new found love of wanker punditry. Respect for Viera even shines through and he admits Viera would win in a fight. Oh to be a fly on the wall in the tunnel at Highbury or when he had a fight with Schmeichel or when using shagging positions as an analogy with Carlos Quieroz would have been hilarious to see. I didn’t realise his exit from Man United was as bad as it was. Interesting to hear the story from the other point of view. Not a bad read. A lot on managing Sunderland. To be fair there are a lot of laughs at some of his grumbles. Shame he’s just a deliberately placed stooge now.

50+13 – Up Pompey – Chuck Culpepper (2007)

8/10

As the cover says. “Clueless American Sportswriter”. Great idea for a book and a great book. Chapter 3 where he hears the different uses of fuck is hillarious and sets the tone. His cluelessness shines through early doors and thats not a bad thing. This is the story of a Virginian man who has no idea about fitba. After heading to England to live, he attends a few games around the country and then stumbles on Match of the Day. He chooses Portsmouth as his team due to the atmosphere at Fratton Park. From there he’s hooked. His openess and coming to terms with stuff makes this book the cracking read it is. The aforementioned fucks, the hating the other team, the rail replacement services, the songs in the terraces, the celebrating coming anywhere but first, no tickets at the gate, and alot more. I’m a big admirer of people who aren’t scared to self depreciate. I do it myself. There are plenty examples here. Home and away(Blackburns a shambles, but a funny one at that) he follows Pompey and it’s a magic read following him. (Despite the book being 13 years old now). It’s also good to get an American point of view and how fitba compares to American sports. I am annoyed this passed me by for so long.

50+14 – Our Boys and The Wise Men – James K Corstorphine (2020)

7/10

Early history of Dundee FC. Not so much for the subject but more for the author as I like his “The Earliest Fife Football Clubs” and “On that Windswept Plain”, East Fife history. He’s good with the detail from the early early days and this is no different. Before United and Dundee there were Dundee Hibs, Dundee Harp, Strathmore, St Clements and eh Perseverance FC among others. More importantly from a Dees point of view, Our Boys and East End(“The Wise Men”) who merged to form the dark blues. This is another good effort from James as always. I do love a book about fitba when it’s in its infancy. Books where most teams don’t exist now. I tend to get lost imagining what it was like back then, the grounds, the quality, the crowds and this was no different.I can picture where some of the grounds were. Not all though. Out of all the Dundee teams featured in this book only Lochee United survive to this day. (And Dundee obviously). None of them made it into the 1900s. After the merger in 1893 with East End and Our Boys put of the picture. They both still found themselves in the next Scottish Cup draw. SFA shite then, still shite now. Books like this are needed to keep the history of the game before it turned into the monstrosity it is now alive. James is doing a sterling job. Hopefully another in the pipeline

50+15 – Big Mal – David Tossel (2012)

7/10

A visionary? A pioneer? A mad bastard? A great coach? A Billy Big Balls? A shagger? A bit of everything I would say. What a character Big Mal was. They don’t make them like him anymore. I say you don’t get folk like him in the game any more. I don’t think there is a place for folk like him in the modern game,which is fitbas loss. His abrasiveness wouldn’t go down too well in today’s modern softie fitba world. I learned two things that were connected. I never realised he had to retire from fitba due to tuberculosis which led to him having a lung removed. This heartbreak for him gave up his centre half berth at West Ham to a young Bobby Moore.The books well researched and written. I just got it as a kindle filler but ended up reading it in one(busy on night shift). Definitely an enjoyable read. Filled with interesting tales of life time touchline bans, porn stars in bath tubs, affairs, bust ups, alcoholism and there are fitba bits too. Man City bit being the best. He left the world in a sorry state but he left his mark on fitba. No doubting that.

50+16 – Mr Stein – Bob Crampsey (1986)

6/10

Had this with me, since it was the 35th anniversary of his death I thought it was perfect timing to give it a bash. Not bad. Straight to the point history of the great man. Which he was. Despite all the “fit you reading about him for” clowns down here. He’s Scottish fitba royalty and his record of achievement proves this. Had a habit of taking struggling teams up a level. His job at Dunfermline was excellent work, then he was Hibs manager with highest win percentage. Even Celtic were struggling with only a League Cup in ten years. Obviously what he did at Parkhead was excellent and too think they almost didn’t hire him as he had the wrong views on Mary. Poor ending there though. Some career in the dugout. Twenty six majors in all. First time I’ve read in depth on the man. An average book but I learned a few things about him. I never realised his Leeds stint lasted 44 days. Same as Brian Cloughs ill fated reign.

Was 70/71 a missed opportunity in the league for Aberdeen?

50+17-Venables, The Inside Story – Harry Harris and Steve Curry (1994)

6/10

Early on it becomes apparent it linked to a book I have just read. Venables was coaxed into starting coaching by Malcolm Allison who saw potential in him. Taking him under his wing at Crystal Palace eventually taking over from Big Mal. Not a bad read. Not just a fitba man but a lot of fingers in other pies away from fitba. Dodgy east end geez. Absolutely. I think this has become clear over the years. Did his career bare the fruits it should have. I would say no. Only three majors in 28 years managing. Hyped? The book is a decent enough read. Good detail of every stage of his career between playing at Chelsea until managing England (dated book, cheap on eBay). Some good facts found in it. When he was at Palace he tried to sign Steve Archibald from Aberdeen. Never knew that before this. There is also good detail on the dodgy money into Spurs scandal. Alan Sugar even saying he dived in too quickly as he trusted El Tel and didn’t think for a minute he was shady. I was to young to understand/care at the time. There are a lot more dodgy money stories in it, Gascoigne and Sheringham deals as examples. A likeable guy when you saw him on the telly. But I suppose you need to be that cheeky happy chappie when you are a shader in business and money in general. Decent enough read. Read large chunks at a time which is a good sign.

50+18 – Every Cloud – Gary Edwards (2019)

7/10

The short but action packed history of Leeds City. The club who’s demise after fifteen years existance led to Leeds United. 1904-1919 was it. Elland Road was home as rugby side Holbeck went under and LCFC moved in. Nicknamed “The Peacocks” this was one of many links to LUFC. The story in short. Founded – player died during a game – chairman died – Herbert Chapman managed them- World War One- nearly folded in 1918 after the war – financial irregularities (another link) -investigated- dead. They never made it out of the second tier at any point. The afters of the expulsion during the 19/20 season and consequent folding was a bit mad. The players were auctioned off like cattle in a city hotel to the highest bidders. Nowadays you would be a free agent when a club folds, see r******s and McGregor, Naismith, Davis etc in ’12. But more bizarre is Port Vale stepped into the the league in City’s place taking the results and points of the eight games played before the league booted Leeds out. A choice wee book that. Read in a night. Not surprising it was good as I do enjoy a book on old old Fitba. Nae often you will see Mugiemoss Youth mentioned in a book. Bill Menzies signed from them played 260 games for Leeds United in 22/23.

50+19 – Scotland, The Quest For The World Cup – Clive Leatherdale (1994)

7/10

A collection builder (for my Scottish fitba book collection). Also a bit because of the author as I enjoyed Mr Leatherdales Dons books. Game by game history of Scotland and the World Cup. Including qualifiers. I’m no Scotland fan but I love reading about the old days. From East Fife, Airdrie, Morton, Clyde players in the squads, World class players we used to churn out and the 100k plus crowds. Seemed much better back then. Maybe I would have cared then. As stated it’s in a game by game format. Sounds like some belters over the years. If I could go back I’d go to Italy in 65, West Germany in 69, Czechoslovakia Joe Jordan game in 73 all at Hampden but also the abandoned bloodbath in 63 v Austria. Scotland seemed to always get Czechoslovakia in qualifying I noticed. Another good book to the Scottish fitba collection. Dated (stops at failure for USA 94).But worth the read. Random thing I learned. Israel were booted out of Asian federation in 1976. They tried to enter the African, Central American and South American before applying for Europe.

50+20 – Football Clichés – Adam Hurrey (2014)

8/10

A good laugh this. Quick but full of the dirge we are subjected to all the time. As the author says, is there a business that uses clichés as much as fitba? 100s upon 100s all found in one place. You could make a great drinking game from this book and the telly. Beleaguered managers in the managerial merry-go-round. Scoring with aplomb or an impudent chip. Snatching a last gasp winner. Lacking the half yard over the hallowed turf. Ballooning or blazing one over. There are the plural teams, the Aberdeens and the Banks o’ Dees of this world. There’s a player showing what he’s capable of. What about the lottery of a pen shoot out? Or places that are always tough to go. There are the slide rule and pinpoint passes. The catalogue of errors. Hatful of chances and the array of talent. Hammer blows to title bids, which could also be a dent or a derailing. There’s the hitting and slapping of bans. Clubs being raided or cherry picked with swoops for players. Then there are teams keeping tabs on a player who’s club have issued a hands off warning. Good craic this book. You will have heard them all before, but seeing them all in one place makes you realise fitba is a melting pot of clichés. Similar read to “Do You Speak Football” . Easy, relatable and amusing. Whether commentators, pundits or punters we are all at it

50+21 – The Nowhere Men – Michael Calvin (2013)

6/10

Not as good as some of his other books. Still interesting none the less. But lacking something. I have never read a book on scouts before so it has that going for it. Hard worked folk? You bet they are. It’s a twenty four hour a day vocation. The book speaks to numerous scouts throughout the land. I actually think this is the issue with the book. Too many involved. It covers work load, technology, the inner sanctum of scouting circles, the harshness of losing your job and the mileage and more. It’s a bloody tough job. As the book went on I felt myself losing a bit of interest. But what’s not one mans cup of tea is someone else’s as this book won awards. It ends well with Michael coming to the conclusion of his profession of journalism being similar due to the dog eat dog competitive nature. A good author with good books out there. “Living on the Volcano” being one. Unfortunately this one didn’t keep my attention like other books I have read.

50+22-The McMarvels v The Sassenachs – Don Gillan (2020)

7/10

A book on fitba at the beginning. Yes please. Starting off with a brief history of the origins of the game the original rules are laid out. Then all the amendments follow. Number 13 and final in the original has to be my favourite and never fails to raise a smile. “No player shall be allowed to wear projecting nails, iron plates or gutta-percha on the soles or heels”. It’s always made me laugh. Who would put nails through their Umbro Specialis. But more interestingly gutta-percha? That’s tooth filling material is it not. A lot of effort. A good book. Its right up my street. It’s made up from newspaper article from the likes of the Scotsman and The Sportsman it’s based around the early games between Scotland and England but does feature Queens Park v various English teams, Lancashire v Glasgow, Renton v West Brom. The book starts in March 1870 and heads to May 1888 with good info about “Scotch men” in their “knickerbockers” playing at the Oval and the West of Scotland Cricket ground, formations stating the keeper “1-2-1-7”. Advertising in papers for players to play. Changing ends at goals. Two umpires, scrimmaging, papers talking about “splendid kicks”, “great kicking powers” “excelling in throw ins” and “capital runs”. It’s a great wee look back in time. To a time which is almost forgotten these days. A fine book to add to the Scottish collection.

50+23 – The Beautiful Game – David Conn (2005)

7/10

“searching for the soul of football” the cover says. The book starts in the mercenary jamboree in England. I thought he can look as hard as he wants but he won’t find it there. Possibly a bit too dated to read nowadays as a lot has changed for the worse money wise. However a lot remains the same. Rip off tickets, buying success, the Glazers, Chelsea splashing cash. In the week where poor Macclesfield Town were wound up the book talks of Bury and we know how that went. York City are mentioned. They have had some fall. Notts County and Hull too. It’s not all doom and gloom these days. AFC Wimbledon have come on leaps and bounds. One of the most incredible stories in the English game. The full shebang from Wimbledon at Plough Lane to AFC. It may be fifteen years old but some of it could have been written now with other names. Decent chapters on Hillsborough/Sheff Wed, Wimbledon, and Bradford City. As I said, England is not the best place to start when looking for the soul of fitba. The fact in the same week Macc Town go bust over 500k, Gareth Urko Bale is set to pocket 500k a week. Disgusting. Maybe an updated version should be on the cards. It would be good to compare the two. The teams may have changed but the issues stay the same. Corona will have introduced many a problem that would fit in I am sure. Oh and lastly MK Dons can piss off!

50+24 – Money and Football – Stefan Syzmanski (2015)

7/10

I love a good fact and this starts of with a cracker. Torshavn in the Faroes means Thors Harbour. Why did I not know that before? This book had my attention early, and attention it needs as it is a fair bit to take in. Maybe more aimed at economic minded people. Unlike his joint effort with Simon Kuper “Soccernomics”. Not the kind of book you want distracted reading. Stefan talks about a lot of subjects affected by money. Ownership, stadiums, Dominance, Debt, Insolvency and more. His research is there to be seen and he’s a clever man with it. A lot of it seems obvious. More money=more chance of glory. Bigger stadium=more money. But we are fitba fans we will know this. He puts the meat on the bone lets say and shows this happening on average over history. Economics can be a boring subject with words that you have to look up what they mean. Well to me it is as I’m a “pint, fitba sweary” type fellow. Stefan does a cracking job of writing this so it doesn’t confront you with too much academic speak. Some good facts found in it. For example. (At time of writing). 17% of top flight clubs in Europe own their ground. The losses of Abramhovic pumping into Chelsea=almost half of his spend. Wage bills of 4 x the average is around the figure of what it takes to win stuff. The comparison on naming stuff was a cracker. “Financial Fair play is well named in the same way as Americas Got Talent…. does it?” Good book. My only gripe is with myself. This was more of a quiet night on the sofa type read where I have no distractions. Not an offshore book

50+25 – Africa United – Steve Bloomfield (2010)

8/10

The title seems tongue and cheek to me. The opening chapter is on Egypt and the hatred between Al Ahly and Zamalek and the Egypt v Algeria needle. Then chapters on Sudan/Chad, Congo/Rwanda, Somalia, Kenya, Sierra Leone/Liberia and more. It’s not a happy book. Famine, genocide, religious divides, civil war, corruption. Africa isn’t shy of bad news. We all know Africa is unsteady but this book is good at showing us how bad it is. The fitba mentioned is good too. From being in with the fans, to the players and there after careers. Highly enjoyable, which is good as I have ten hours until I’m finally home and the book challenge ends. Good to get a cracker near the end. No mention of Angola though. Never found anything about their fitba in any book. Highlight chapters, South Africa, Chad/Sudan, Congo/Rwanda. Give it a bash. It’s a superb read and it can make you not realise you are in danger on an aeroplane. Surely that’s a good sign(coincidentally from Africa too)

50+26 – A Strange Kind of Glory – Eamon Dunphy (1993)

8/10

In depth read about the big man. Very good stuff. I can see why it was praised at the time. What a man Sir Matt was. Excellent read about a man who went through what pretty much a select few will ever go through. Reading about the Munich disaster was gut wrenching for me. I cannot even imagine what went on. (Foer the record, glorifying disasters is as scummy as it gets, Ibrox, Munich). For Mattha, to come back from it is not only incredible but a lesson everyone who has been down in their life needs to know. From total despair to absolute glory. Not much more to say barring the man should be an inspiration to all in a life sense and in a football management too. A good way to wrap up the book challenge and board a flight to Aberdeen after what seems to be aeons.

Reading is great, fitba reading is better!

Published by pacman1903

Once a football fan. Now a football nerd

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