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The Football Books Thread

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Recommend a book about football that you've enjoyed.

 

Provided You Don't Kiss Me - 20 Years With Brian Clough by Duncan Hamilton. This superb book won the Sports Book of the Year for 2007 and if you read it you'll know why. The author was the local Forest correspondent for most of Clough's time there as manager and he was accorded a level of access to every aspect of the club, but especially to Clough himself, that most journalists today can only dream of.

 

The result is a really personal account of a man who comes across as multi-dimensional: generous and cruel, driven and haunted, deeply flawed and, of course, a genius. It's brilliantly written in a personal style that puts the author in the narrative while never losing focus of the book's subject. The structure also makes it very readable as the chapters are thematic rather than chronological which allows for the perspective time brings to come to bear on the events described.

 

In short, this is a superb and highly readable biography - one of the best I've ever read (certainly the best that's not Liverpool-related).

Edited by Paul

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My second one is one I've written about on here before, but I thought I'd put it in this thread. It's The Damned United by David Peace. It's actually a coincidence that I've started with books on Clough - they just happen to be the last two that I've really enjoyed.

 

For those of you who don't know, it's a novel rather than a biography and it therefore merely uses the 44 days Brian Clough was in charge of Leeds as a nail to hang a story on. The book switches backwards and forwards between Clough's time as manager of Derby, where he won the league, and the brief period when he was in charge of Leeds United. This narrative device allows Peace to exagerrate various aspects of his character brilliantly as Derby comes to represent an ideal of what a club should be, almost Clough heaven, and Leeds the complete opposite - a very personal hell.

 

The writing styles used in the two narrative threads are also quite distinct from each other in order to reflect this heaven and hell metaphor. In the Leeds sections, the character of Clough descends to the verge of madness as his obsessive hatred for Don Revie manifests itself in dark thoughts and a sea of alcohol. The actual prose itself is dark and oppressive and in places it is hard to read. However, this is a deliberate attempt to evoke the character's claustrophobia and desperation.

 

Overall, another great read and way, way better than the film of the same name that bears little relation to this far superior version of the story.

Edited by Paul

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One Flew Over The crossbar

It is wriiten by Irish bloke Brian Kennedy and it is about the woes of supporting a lower league team which is his beloved Exeter .I have to be honest and admit I only read a little of it but having a soft spot for the club I may well be a little biased .

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Us Vs Them by Giles Goodhead.

Basically an englishman now based in the States, rediscovers his love of football by travelling to 8 derby games around the world. Not so much a commentary on the actual games played but gives some background on the rivalries and talks about his experiences trying to get tickets, and general matchday atmosphere.

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Guest Ulysses Everett McGill

Just started reading this, so I've borrowed the Guardians review.

 

Had to order it from the States an all for some reason

 

Review: The Ball Is Round by David Goldblatt | Books | The Guardian

 

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The Ball Is Round: A Global History of Football

by David Goldblatt

992pp, Viking, £30

 

It is half-time in the new film Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait and the screen is filled with a series of seemingly random images from across the world. One of these shows the aftermath of a car bomb in Iraq. The scene is a familiar one: burning wreckage, smoke, chaos. One of the bystanders is sporting a football shirt from Real Madrid and has Zidane's name on the back.

 

Since it became a worldwide phenomenon, nobody has attempted to write an overall history of the game. Now David Goldblatt's stunning book will be the measure against which all other such volumes are judged. Weighing in at more than 900 pages, this might seem a mighty read. But Goldblatt has packed the book with detail, stories, match reports and rumination. It can be read cover-to-cover or dipped into. It is both a magnificent work of synthesis of other people's research and a voyage into entirely new territory. I found myself zipping around the globe, and across time, from Saudia Arabia to Ireland, from Bolton to Calcutta. The book moves from comments on types of studs to descriptions of matches. Part of the joy of The Ball Is Round is its eclecticism.

 

Goldblatt is convinced - rightly - that football cannot be isolated from history and sociology (and economics), and that these forces cannot be understood without reference to the most global and wealthy of all sports: "No history of the modern world is complete without an account of football." Thus he mixes accounts of coups, booms and busts, strikes and revolutions with tales of goals, transfers, victories and penalty shoot-outs. While not making mechanical links between economic change and footballing development, the author always positions the sport within its changing global context. Given the difficulty of such an undertaking, Goldblatt has pulled the whole thing off with panache. Sometimes he overreaches himself, but these moments are fairly rare. Above all, this book poses so many questions that it should provide a stimulus for enthusiasts and students to look into different areas of the game, especially in terms of comparing national sporting traditions.

 

It is at its best when Goldblatt visits Latin America. There are a series of superb chapters on Argentine and Brazilian football which perfectly weave together politics, dictatorship, tactics and wing-play. Some of the most interesting sections deal with the urban teams of Buenos Aires, with its heady mix of immigrants and indigenous cultures. Other areas take in the links to Peron and the political implications of football's rise and fall in the various countries on the continent. The Ball Is Round also wears its heart on its sleeve: a furious section deals with the Chilean coup of 1973 and the shameful decision to allow Chile into the 1974 World Cup as a result of the Soviet Union's refusal to play a qualifier in the infamous national stadium where "the air of blood and brutality was tangible". But we also learn about masculinity, about the "anti-football" of the 1960s and 70s which developed in Argentina (and was surely copied by Leeds United), and of course about the great players and very different footballing cultures which these nations produced over time.

 

Short match reports are interspersed throughout the text, taking in key matches or moments in footballing history. This device breaks up the narrative to good effect as well as allowing us to "take the field" among the players, almost as if we were actually attending games, or reading contemporary accounts. This is important, because Goldblatt never loses sight of the fact that the game itself also matters. Not everything can be explained or understood through world economic trends, regime change or immigration shifts. Football's essential qualities remain the same, whether you are playing on a dusty field in India or in a huge stadium in Germany. It is difficult to do justice to the range of this work, which moves from a solid account of the origins of the game, on to tactics, globalisation, administration and corruption.

 

However, the book is not without its problems. Not enough is made of the importance of the referee - and the relationship between players, fans and match officials - in different footballing nations. The treatment of countries is uneven, and some chapters are reduced to lists of victories and cups. Goldblatt ruminates long and hard on the lack of success of the game in the sports-obsessed US without coming up with convincing answers to this key question.

 

Inevitably, some players and teams are sacrificed in the quest to cover almost everything. It is a shame, for example, that the genius of Roberto Baggio hardly merits a mention. Long before David Beckham, Baggio the Buddhist was immensely popular as a world footballer. The same could be said of Giuseppe Meazza - probably the best striker in the world in the 30s. Moreover - and again inevitably - the book also contains errors, omissions and some strange opinions. Spanish and Italian fans would not agree with the assertion that South Korea was a "a worthy semi-finalist" in the 2002 World Cup. Alessandro Costacurta is not a midfielder. Black player William Tull did not play in the 20s (he died in the first world war) and Juventus did not go through "the second great phase in the club's history" in the mid-50s. Of course, these are just quibbles, but the rush to finish the book before the 2006 World Cup was over has left the author a little exposed. His argument that Italian football is a "dying culture" sits uneasily with the Azzurri's unexpected tournament victory (their fourth overall) in July.

 

Elsewhere, the author admirably restrains any temptation in favour of his own team (apart from repeating the urban myth that Osama bin Laden is - or was? - an Arsenal fan). Perhaps Goldblatt's Tottenham roots are showing in his obvious dislike of Abramovich's Chelsea, but he is also echoing the feelings of many fans.

 

Elegant, witty, stylish and crisp, the language of the book moves swiftly forward, taking the reader with it. We name-check Gil Scott-Heron as we move inexorably from the mud-baths and textile factories of the past to the VIP suites and prawn sandwiches of today. Goldblatt is not optimistic about contemporary football. He sees today's game as emptied of meaning and controlled by corrupt oligarchs and bloated administrators. But he also understands football's beauty and simplicity - those features which have inspired such passion and created so many devotees and, latterly, readers and writers of and about football.

 

There is more food for thought in the few pages of the conclusion than in a hundred ghostwritten biographies of rich twentysomethings. Quite simply, The Ball Is Round takes football history to a new level.

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43 Years with the Same Bird.

 

I'm half way through this, stayed up too late last night as I couldn't put it down, one word FANTASTIC!

 

Brian Reade has a superb writing style, humour and just captures the essence of why we all love this fantastic club, and how it takes over your life.

I don't agree with all of his ultra socialist ideals, but hey what the heck!

 

I couldn't recommend this book more highly.

I've got 'Here we go gathering cups in may' ready to read next, which I believe from friends is superb, but it would be hard pressed to match Brian's efforts to date!

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43 Years with the Same Bird.

 

I'm half way through this, stayed up too late last night as I couldn't put it down, one word FANTASTIC!

 

Brian Reade has a superb writing style, humour and just captures the essence of why we all love this fantastic club, and how it takes over your life.

I don't agree with all of his ultra socialist ideals, but hey what the heck!

 

I couldn't recommend this book more highly.

I've got 'Here we go gathering cups in may' ready to read next, which I believe from friends is superb, but it would be hard pressed to match Brian's efforts to date!

 

That is my favourite. Absolute brilliant book. Or Phil Scratons book on Hillsborough, both are excellent reads.

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I just copied this of amazon as I couldn't be arsed to type out a load of stuff this morning.

 

My Recommendation goes to:

My Father and Other Working Class Football Heroes by Gary Imlach.

 

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Stewart Imlach was an ordinary neighbourhood soccer star of his time. A brilliant winger who thrilled the crowd on Saturdays, then worked alongside them in the off-season; who represented Scotland in the 1958 World Cup and never received a cap for his efforts; who was Man of the Match for Nottingham Forest in the 1959 FA Cup Final, and was rewarded with the standard offer - GBP20 a week, take it or leave it. Gary Imlach grew up a privileged insider at Goodison Park when Stewart moved into coaching. He knew the highlights of his father's career by heart. But when his dad died he realised they were all he knew. He began to realise, too, that he'd lost the passion for football that his father had passed down to him. In this book, he faces his growing alienation from the game he was born into, as he revisits key periods in his father's career to build up a picture of his football life - and through him a whole era. "My Father and Other Working-Class Heroes" brilliantly recaptures a lost world and the way it changed, blending the personal and the historical into a unique soccer story.

If you can get past the fact his Dad was a coach at the BS, its a great book about 50 and 60's football and how players, clubs, contracts and conditions were.

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Morbo by Phil Ball, about the history of Spanish football.

 

I second this.

 

It's a fascinating read. Some surprising revelations, quite a few myths dispelled, an analysis of the culture and some really interesting accounts from Spanish fans.

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Recommend a book about football that you've enjoyed.

 

Provided You Don't Kiss Me - 20 Years With Brian Clough by Duncan Hamilton. This superb book won the Sports Book of the Year for 2007 and if you read it you'll know why. The author was the local Forest correspondent for most of Clough's time there as manager and he was accorded a level of access to every aspect of the club, but especially to Clough himself, that most journalists today can only dream of.

 

The result is a really personal account of a man who comes across as multi-dimensional: generous and cruel, driven and haunted, deeply flawed and, of course, a genius. It's brilliantly written in a personal style that puts the author in the narrative while never losing focus of the book's subject. The structure also makes it very readable as the chapters are thematic rather than chronological which allows for the perspective time brings to come to bear on the events described.

 

In short, this is a superb and highly readable biography - one of the best I've ever read (certainly the best that's not Liverpool-related).

 

 

I quite agree. I've been recommending this for some time. For all the praise that Damned UTD has attracted, this one has been a little undervalued. I prefer it. There's a little niggle in that, as a Bascombe-like local hack, Hamilton appears overly eager to airbrush much of Liverpool's dominance out of the picture, but otherwise, as you say, it's a rivetting read, and the latter part on Clough's alcoholism is astonishing given that he was still (ostensibly) managing a Premiership club.

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I recently finished this.

 

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It was a decent read, giving an insight to the circus that was Real Madrid around the time of the Galaticos. Definitely recommend it to anyone.

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'Full Time - The secret life of Tony Cascarino' is a decent read, which concentrates almost as much on his off-field exploits as what he did on it. The main controversy the book stirred up was the revelation that he was never actually qualified to play for Ireland, but there are plenty of other good stories like this excahnge between him and Liam Brady following a 1-5 defeat for Celtic at Neuchatel Xamax in the UEFA Cup:

 

"What the fuck is going on, Tony? I've never seen you play so badly!"

"Yeah, I dunno...I was just crap."

"Well that's fucking marvellous: I pay a million pounds for a player and three months later he tells me he's crap! Thanks a fucking lot."

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Brilliant Orange: The Neurotic Genius of Dutch Football: David Winner: Amazon.co.uk: Books

 

In Brilliant Orange--the neurotic genius of Dutch football, journalist David Winner explores his personal fascination with the land that gave the world Van Gogh, Rembrandt and Johan Cruyff--searching for reasons why such a tiny country has produced some of football's most intelligent, enigmatic and unfulfilled teams.

 

Winter talks with the players, past and present--including Johnny Rep and Ruud Krol from the losing World Cup Final sides of 1974 and 1978--uncovering their personal experience of the public triumphs and disasters. But it is the breadth of his enquiry into what it may mean to be Dutch--reconciling a colonial past with a multi-cultural present; living with the memories of wartime occupation and collaboration; the tensions between a fiercely individualistic, libertarian spirit and the principles of communality--that makes this such an extraordinary and wonderful book. --Alex Hankin --

 

EDIT: If you want to purchase it dont forget to do it via TLW.

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Since posting last (about 5 hours ago) I've now finished reading '43 years with the same bird'.

 

The highest praise that I can give it is that I'm now going to virtually force my mrs (23+ years with the same bird, nearly 22 of them married!) to read it.

I know she'll love the book, and the wroiting style, but i actually feel for the

1st time ever she might fully grasp why what she's married to is as passionate now about LFC as when sge first met him over half his life time ago!!

 

If you haven't already readt it, I implore you, BUY THIS BOOK.

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I concur on El Macca. As someone who loves Spain, I thought it was fantastic to read about the way he immersed himself in the whole culture of Spanish life. A great read.

 

43 Years With The Same Bird is also superb - especially towards the end when Reade writes about sharing his love of the Reds with his son. However, some of it irked me just a little bit. I felt that there were times when he was wearing his hardcore Red credentials just a little too prominently. It was as if he felt the need to prove how much he loves us when everyone already knows that.

 

The Tony Cascarino biography is good too in the way it shuns cliche and all the usual streotypes about footballers. The same can be said of Addicted by Tony Adams which is rutally self-critical in places. He now come across as a bit of a freak in interviews, with that combination of the recovering alcoholic's zeal for life and love of psycho babble all wrapped up in a persona that seems vaguely thick. Judgemental, I know - but that's my view of him. However, the book itself reveals huge depths of character and self-reflection.

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Football Against The Enemy by Simon Kuper = the Brazil '70 of football books.

 

Football Against The Enemy by Simon Kuper - 9780752848778 - Orion Books

 

Throughout the world, football is a potent force in the lives of billions of people. Focusing national, political and cultural identities, football is the medium through which the world's hopes and fears, passions and hatreds are expressed.

 

Simon Kuper travelled to 22 countries from South Africa to Italy, from Russia to the USA, to examine the way football has shaped them. At the same time he tried to find out what lies behind each nation's distinctive style of play, from the carefree self-expression of the Brazilians to the anxious calculation of the Italians. During his journeys he met an extraordinary range of players, politicians and - of course - the fans themselves, all of whom revealed in their different ways the unique place football has in the life of the planet.

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Where do I start. Futebol about Brazilain footbol is excellent. Likewise Tor about German football.

 

Then there are Jonathan Wilson's two books Behind the Curtaind and Inverting the Pyramid where he manages to make two difficult topics (football in Eastern Europe and tactics) seem fascinating.

 

Liverpool related, far foreign Land by Tony Evans hasn't received the praise it deserves.

 

Non football, the definite winner has to be Moneyball.

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Where do I start. Futebol about Brazilain footbol is excellent. Likewise Tor about German football.

 

Then there are Jonathan Wilson's two books Behind the Curtaind and Inverting the Pyramid where he manages to make two difficult topics (football in Eastern Europe and tactics) seem fascinating.

 

Liverpool related, far foreign Land by Tony Evans hasn't received the praise it deserves.

 

Non football, the definite winner has to be Moneyball.

Check out The GF Books Thread on the General Forum mate.

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What is the ultimate Shankly book, would you say?

 

Just reading 'Chronicles' by Bob Dylan now - not football, but a great book to all those who love Zimmerman..

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Great book with good humour and real feel about the game. Cover and description from Amazon

 

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Who still says 'soccer'; why does 'Arsenal' sound so foreign; who was 'sick as a parrot' first; was Shakespeare the game's first clogger; and what makes footballers better wordsmiths than the Eskimos? The answers to all these and more are revealed in Football Talk, football's first linguistic odyssey. Peter Seddon explores how words came about to describe football kit, boots and balls; playing techniques, foul play, girl talk and team terminology; and the language of commentators and footie mags - to list just a few examples. This is the definitive guide to football's history and culture in its widest sense, and the book's nostalgic and often humorous approach encapsulates Britain's two greatest exports the English language and football. Whether you're a football fanatic, armchair enthusiast or wordsmith, learning 'footie-speak' has never been easier.

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The best non-Liverpool football book I have ever read is ' The Glory Game' by Hunter Davies , which is a book that could never be written again at a big club in these days of Press Officers and the like.

 

Basically , Davies asked could he hang around with Spurs for a whole season in the early 70's & they said yes. He trained with them , socialised with them , went to the players houses , saw all of the fall-outs behind the scenes & noted everything down.

 

I believe the fall out was immense after it came out , with an enquiry at Spurs as to who agreed to the concept.

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