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Thank God 7 Weeks To Go-Book For The Football Stir Crazy
by Peter Doherty
I hate the summer. Always have always will. Even with the World Cup or European Championship there's to long between seasons. I like wearing a coat & I hate hot weather even more so I'm even more miserable than usual,anyone who knows me is staggered by this fact coz I'm miserable as sin between August & May but go off the scale in the summer. I'd steam roller bunnies & send orphaned kids cockling in Mr Blobby keks to cheer myself. So how do I deal with it. With great difficulty & by reading anything I can about the beautiful game. Now I'm not fooled at all by the latest epic by some prick who plays for Mingland & waxes his chest right next to his nail technician. No I avoid the modern biog by & large. What I want is fuck ups or storied when the local centre dash owned a newsagents during the week. So Swinesters I'm going to provide some worthwhile material to take you through the season of the reptile. If you've read'em then apoligies & if you're looking for hoolie lit sorry don't do that. Everyone has their own war stories & rivalries so you can follow your own teams loons on your own. Now this is going to be a 2 part job. This bit is gonna be UK based books & the next one, next month hopefully will cover the rest of the world. So on with the show. .
1. Jack & Bobby (A Story of Brothers In Conflict)-Leo McKinstry
The tale of the Charltons. Englands most famous footballing brothers. I went into this expecting to hate Jack as he bugged the fuck out of me when he was Ireland coach. Strangely not he is the shining light of the book. An unreconstructed sexist though he is he's more of a normal bloke who realised his limitations & wanted to fuck-off at the drop of a tweed cap. Bobby is a tit. Lord & Lady Muck. Wholly interesting for the background material & the tale of Bobby cutting ties with his past as he became a bigger star for United & England. Putting his reticence down solely to Munich seems wide of the mark. Basically he seems to know what side of the bread his is buttered on & nothing will stand in his way. Jack on the other hand goes on an alehouse tour of Ireland & doesn't pay for a drink. A really good read,surprisingly.
2. Back Home-Jeff Dawson
Stop reading this. Go on Amazon & buy this book. Seriously its that good. The story of the 1970 World Cup & Englands ill-fated attempt to defend the trophy,this is probably the best piece of football writing I've ever read. The match descriptions alone are brilliant. That you also get the Bobby Moore Jewellery case,Gordon Banks illness & Alf Ramsey's all round desperation to keep a bit of England were ever he was (shipping food & a coach to drive the players in over to Mexico coz he didn't trust Johnny Foreigner) this is a joy to read. Can't recommended it enough.
3. My Father & Other Working Class Football Heroes-Gary Imlach
A really touching book written by Imlach,the former Channel 4 TV Presenter,about his dad Stewart who played for Scotland at the 58 World Cup, Forest in the 1959 Cup Final & coached Everton during the early 70's. Reading something like this you see were the present day footballer got the seed to make sure they never got shafted like Stewart Imlach did. A tale of almost slavery in the national game only 50 years ago it is a heartfelt tribute & a cracking read. That we get a view of this thoroughly decent mans life from his birthplace in Lossiemouth to his last days makes it even more touching.
4. The Far Corner-Harry Pearson
A tour around the footballing world of North East England. Hilarious. Though dated now by Boro & Sunderland leaving their old homes since publication it still doesn't loose the knack to amuse as Pearson describes going to watch the oddest collection of matches in the most extreme leagues possible. Even the bus journeys are funny never mind some of the loons who follow the likes of Tow Law Town & how newsagents are still haunted by Len Shackleton abound. Quality.
5. Pointless-Jeff Connor
A bit like the Pearson book except Connor decides to stick with 1 gang of clowns. East Stirling. The worst team in Britain. Perpetually bottom of the Scottish 3rd Division & basically shite. Run by a gang of incompetents & a team that drop out at a moments notice coz they are better off signing on. A story of true dedication & idiocy is the best way to put it. Oh & the ground is behind World Of Leather or something. Imagine.
6. Lost Babes- Jeff Connor
Connor again but a far more serious subject. The Munich Air Disaster & what happened to the bereaved & the survivors. A truly harrowing book. The writing of the actual crash & how changes in seat saved or cost lives of young men is heartbreaking. I've seen it said that this is an attack on United as they've become a megalith & used Munich to further their expansion. That's not the impression I got from the book. It looked to me that they were as unsure & unprepared as anyone else would be in such a situation. That they have become a mega-club is a fact but that should not be a reason to slaughter them at all costs. Their treatment of the families of the dead players does leave a bitter taste at times though. Some of the family tales are so sad. The presence of Duncan Edwards runs through the whole book. The man-child who will never grow old its a really moving read & should make anyone who's gloried & joined in that song look back with pangs of regret. Me included.
7. Englands Last Glory-David Miller
Similar in subject to Back Home this is the tale of the 1966 World Cup & again it is a cracking book. Maybe not up to the standard of Dawson's exemplary tome but a great read. Imagine McLaren taking Becks & that little Welsh Twat who used to play up front for Liverpool to the pictures the night before a World Cup Final. Well that's what Alf did. That we get the previous summers friendlies is a benefit as we can see the squad & the shift to "wingless wonders" take place & the book gives some sembelence of real reason behind this earth shattering switch in style. A really good read & I don't even like England & it got me.
8. Full Time-Tony Cascarino
Though I'd give you at least one biography so why not probably the best of the bunch. Most of us can remember Cascarino. Big fuck-off centre forward for Millwall,Villa & Marseille & the Republic. Well he's also a really honest geezer who's book takes us through the time he spent in Nantes as he went through a very hard divorce back in Blighty & tried to bring up a new daughter in France. Also the famous tale about his qualification,or lack of it, for the Republic is explained & even though he lied his socks off you'll admire his desire to play footy as high up the scale as possible. He's now on Sky occassionally & Ashley Cole is still a tit.
Well that should keep you entertained until I can supply the world tour. Remember the more you read the more you can ignore the kids & your wife on holiday. Its the law.
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