The Beautiful Game in Words
Soccerphile contributor Andy Greeves recommends some of his recent and all-time favourite football reads. Read on for a collection of all-time classic football books.
The Glory Game
The Glory Game by Hunter Davies
Being a Spurs fan, I have to start with a book based around the White Hart Lane club.
Hunter Davies was given unprecedented access to Tottenham Hotspur during the 1971/72 season, in which the club became winners of the first-ever UEFA Cup competition.
From stories of the late, great Bill Nicholson and tales of away trips in Europe to an in depth look at what it was like to be part of one of the top English clubs of the 1970's, Davies' book is an enthralling and classic football read.
The Smell of Football
The Smell of Football by Mick Rathbone
Mick Rathbone bucked the trend of the normally dour and predictable ex-football autobiography last year with the release of The Smell of Football.
The frank and honest account covers his career from being a shy teenager at Birmingham City, who actually used to feign injuries to avoid playing in matches through to his post-playing career as Head of Medicine at Everton Football Club.
‘Baz's' anecdotes throughout the book make this a compulsive read, with tales of English football legends he has encountered throughout working life including Trevor Francis, Sir Alf Ramsey, Wayne Rooney and David Moyes.
Dennis Tueart - My Football Journey by Dennis Tueart
In part, Dennis Tueart's fantastic autobiography feels more like of a fly-on-the-wall documentary of the going on behind the scenes at Manchester City in the 1990s.Pulling no punches, Tueart talks of the power struggles and erratic league form which characterised his time as a director at the club, which dropped into the third tier of English football in 1998.
His playing tales meanwhile centre around winning the FA Cup with Sunderland in 1973 and his last-hurrah on the pitch playing for the New York Cosmos, with all the razzmatazz that went with it.
During his time in the States he rubbed shoulders with the likes of Mick Jagger, Jerry Hall, Rob Stewart and Bjorn Borg. Extraordinary considering this was during time before footballers at large were considered celebrities - especially in the 'Soccer-sceptic' USA.
Arsenal - The makings of a Modern Super Club
Arsenal - The Makings of a Modern Super Club by Alex Fynn
Over the last season or so, questions have been raised of Arsene Wenger's future at Arsenal for the first time. His 16 year reign at the club to date though has largely been complete success and the Frenchman has come a long way from the individual dubbed ‘Arsene Who?' when he first took the Gunners' hot seat.
Fynn's book reminds all of the revolutionary approach Wenger has brought to English football and Arsenal both on and off the pitch. Irrespective to a certain degree of league standings, Arsenal remain the embodiment of an ultimate 21 st century football club.
Insight from former Saatchi and Saatchi director Fynn, coupled with comment from Gooner fanzine editor Kevin Witcher and others connected to Arsenal, the book is a fascinating story of a club transformed by the autocracy of one man.
Arsenal - The Makings of a Modern Superclub has recently been updated to incorporate the story of the 2010-11 season.
Walter Tull (1888-1918) Officer, Football: All the Guns in France Couldn't Wake Me
Walter Tull (1888-1918) Officer, Football: All the Guns in France Couldn't Wake Me by Phil Vasili
Amid the current storm of alleged incidents of racism in English football this season, this book tells of the prejudice and abuse suffered by Walter Tull at the beginning of the 20th century, as he became one of the first professional black footballers in England.
Abuse that Tull received from opposition fans when playing for Tottenham Hotspur forced him to make a move to lower league Northampton Town. Just years later, he would fight for Great Britain and serve the country with distinction as an officer in World War I.
Tull's battle to overcome barriers of acceptance is a powerful, inspirational and at times, harrowing tale centred around problems within the 'beautiful game' and British society during his lifetime.
Andy Greeves spoke to Phil Vasili about Walter Tull's story.
Superfan! The Amazing Life of Morris Keston
Superfan! The Amazing Life of Morris Keston by Morris Keston and Nick Hawkins
It is an old football cliché that the game would be nothing without its fans. Without characters like 'superfan' Morris Keston, football would be a duller place for sure.
Keston's book tells of his obsession with Tottenham Hotspur and the lengths he has gone to over many decades following his beloved club. He only went on one family holiday in 35 years such was his dedication to Spurs. Why spend time of a beach when there is football to be watched eh?!
Keston's commitment to Tottenham and the beautiful game as a whole saw him thrust into the inner echelons of football and friendships with some of the biggest names in the game such as Geoff Hurst, Jimmy Greaves and Gordon Banks. Indeed, he would even go on to organise events and testimonials for many top footballers.
In the modern game, where supporters feels more detached from their clubs as ever, the thought of a fan becoming mates with his football heroes seems unlikely to say the least. Morris lived the dream - the 'superfan' who became something of a football personality himself.