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Rock the Crossbar

Thursday, January 19

Reading List

Looking to build up a library of decent footie reading spanning everything from serious history to self-serving autobiography and hoolie travelogues. Suggestions? Rock the Crossbar



    By Blogger Rich Hughes, at 10:51 AM  

  • Yes, yes, Roy of the Rovers. Very good. Just no one tell me to buy "Captain for Life" by John Harkes or "Go for Goal" by Mia Hamm.

    By Blogger Glazer Shmazer, at 11:14 AM  

  • Only a Game?: Diary of a Professional Footballer - Eamon Dunphy

    By Blogger TheBusbyBoy, at 11:18 AM  

  • 'Yes, yes, Roy of the Rovers. Very good. Just no one tell me to buy "Captain for Life" by John Harkes or "Go for Goal" by Mia Hamm. ' - I don't have to - they were in your origional post before you edited it.

    By Blogger Rich Hughes, at 11:59 AM  

  • Have to agree with John about "Only a game" - it's a great book about being a (fringe)footballer when players were not on mad money. In terms of hoolie books, the best I've read has been "Congratulations, you've just met the ICF" by Cass Pennant. Read a few books from Cass and Co and this is the best one; the others I could have given a miss.

    By Blogger Chris P, at 12:29 PM  

  • Tom also omitted a book he read with extensive references to Max Weber. Believe it also laid the blame for the lack of the sport's popularity on Harvard. And to think the Harvard was the only college identified (sweatshirt) in the Nike commercial. The irony!

    By Blogger Chris P, at 12:33 PM  

  • Thanks for the suggestions...There's a compilation of "When Saturday Comes" I may have to track down, as well. Apologies for the earlier double post, Rich, I got a weird error message after the first post and put up the second (the one to which you refer)...

    By Blogger Glazer Shmazer, at 2:32 PM  

  • I devour this sort of writing. I have shelves of these books at home.

    My favorites are

    The Beautiful Team - Garry Jenkins
    He goes back and finds all of the guys from the Brazil 70 team and talks to them. I lent this to a Brazilian neighbor who told me this book made him weep with joy. Me too.

    Those Feet and Brilliant Orange - David Winner His takes on why the Dutch play football the way they do and why the English play the way they do. His interview with Rep is hilarious, and his interview with Haan is intense. Haan tells the story of how his brother was murdered by the occupying Germans and how that influenced his full-blooded style when playing them. And how he's never recovered from the '74 final.

    Gazza Agonistes - Ian Hamilton Hamilton followed Gazza around Italy during his days with Lazio. A very detailed list of his shenanigans there and good writing.

    Football in Sun and Shadow - Eduardo Galeano Uruguayan poet riffs on football. Best bit is when he takes an old Argentinian target man around a supermarket built on top of the pitch that the old boy played on. The ex-player tells about how, the winger came down the produce aisle, crossed it to someone over by the soda display who one-touched it to him coming through from the meat counter. Very affecting reading.

    Futebol - Alex Bellos This one is great because it's so all-encompassing. Interviews with Socrates, Zico, Junior-Check! Histories of classic moments like Black Sunday, the 70 final, and the classic 82 encounters-Check! All the craziness of the Brazilian league, the samba schools, the kids in the favelas, the corrupt and seemingly teflon directors, and best, the evangelical church's inroads into today's footballers like Kaka and that bloke at Bayern-Check!

    The Hand of God - Jimmy Burns Gives you more perspective on why anyone so gifted and able always resorted to the mingy-est cheating. Good on what drove the poor dim-wit to the pipe too.

    Tor - Hesse Lichtenberger History of the German game. Good on the 54 Final where a team of amateurs won the whole thing. Good also on the German mavericks, Schuster, Fischer, Overath.

    Fever Pitch - Hornby But you knew that. This spoke to me because he and I are roughly the same age so we went to the same matches. He remembers Super-mac's hat-trick on my 11th birthday. I was there. And there's a picture of me in a naff rayon Arsenal kit where I look just like the kid on the cover of the book.

    The Game of Their Lives - Douglas Liked this story told by the survivors of the USA team about the day they squeaked it by the English team of Matthews and Finney.

    My 1998 World Cup Story - Hoddle This is a personal favorite because it reveals the God-botherer as a complete self rightous nutter. It's crap of course, but he really does say the things you've read. As you're reading, stay awake and your jaw will drop lower, and lower, and lower. Incredible.

    Simon Kuper doesn't write a bad book. Football Against the Enemy and the Ajax book were great. He was also involved in a short lived series of "Granta"-ish football writing called "Perfect Pitch." Five volumes were published before the project faded away, but they were really good.

    Ajax, Barcelona, Cruyff - Berends
    No one can write the definitive Cruyff book because he's such a cranky bastard. But Berends got pretty close. It's too bad that Cruyff seems so determined to show us that we love him a whole hell of a lot more than he loves us. At least the others pretend.

    A Season With Verona - Parks Great Stuff about traveling around Italy with the Hellas Hoolies. Great anecdotes.

    The Miracle of Castel Di Sangro - McGinniss Another great book about an upstart Serie B team's adventure during the mid nineties. How he got so close to the club is beyond me.

    And there's much more. There's the Sir Alf book, the book about French football with the chapter on Cantona, the book about Japanese football. The joy is that it's endless.

    By Blogger gooner71, at 2:45 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Simon Burke, at 3:22 PM  

  • one book stands head and shoulders above else - its called Rock Bottom and its the autobiography of Paul Merson. Its touching and was written while he was in rehab - its written at a surprisingly high level.. for Paul.
    Its filled with monosyllabic love letters to his wife Lorraine and is a gripping ride - its like a season of 24 in one book.

    By Blogger Simon Burke, at 3:23 PM  

  • Excellent stuff. I have Football in Sun and Shadow, Gazza Agoniste (an amazing read), and Game of Their Lives. I'm just finishing How Soccer Explains the World, which isn't bad. Will definitely give the Merson book a look, as well as Gooner71's suggestions.

    By Blogger Glazer Shmazer, at 3:38 PM  

  • You've been fuckin reading "How Soccer Explains the World" since I have known you :-)

    By Blogger TheBusbyBoy, at 3:01 AM  

  • Oh ya, I know Rich was hounding me to do a preview of United and The Bindippers on Sunday but I didn't have time. Sorry Rich. For what its worth I am going to say we will bounce back from the derby and win 2-0 - Ruud and Rooney. Not ultra confident or anything but I usually like us when we are bouncing back from a painful result.

    By Blogger TheBusbyBoy, at 3:04 AM  

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