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Football Book Reviews

Looking for a good football book to read? Soccerphile reviews some of our favourite books on soccer.

World Cup books, Japanese soccer and World Cup 2002 Korea/Japan, England national team, football hooligans, player autobiographies, European football, football fiction, Non-League Football, David Beckham, academic, Dutch football, Arsenal, Liverpool FC, Manchester United.

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Football titles reviewed include:

Soccer books "The Miracle of Castel di Sangro" by Joe McGinnis
"When Beckham Went To Spain" by Jimmy Burns
"Pyramid Football Guide To Non-League 2004-5" by Joe Bush (Ed.)
"Woody & Nord: A Football Friendship" by Gareth Southgate and Andy Woodman
"Among The Thugs" by Bill Buford
"Flick-to-kick: An Illustrated History of Subbuteo" by Daniel Tatarsky
"Ultra Nippon: How Japan Reinvented Football" by Jonathon Birchall
"Badfellas: FIFA Family at War" by John Sugden & Alan Tomlinson
"The Best of Enemies: England v. Germany, a Century of Football Rivalry" by David Downing
"Japan, Korea and the 2002 World Cup" by John Horne & Wolfram Manzenreiter
"Fever Pitch" by Nick Hornby
"Tor! The Story Of German Football" by Uli Hesse-Lichtenberger
"The Fashion Of Football: Soccer From Best To Beckham, From Mod To Label Slave" Paolo Hewitt & Mark Baxter
"Those Feet - A Sensual History of English Football" by David Winner
"Ajax, the Dutch, the War - Football in Europe During The Second
World War" by Simon Kuper
"The Fan" by Hunter Davies
"National Pastime" by Hunter Davies
"Calcio" by John Foot
"Forza Italia" by Paddy Agnew
"Farewell but not Goodbye" by Bobby Robson
"Provided You Don't Kiss Me - 20 years with Brian Clough" by Duncan Hamilton
"My Father and Other Working-Class Heroes by Gary Imlach" by Gary Imlach

Click on the image, author or Amazon USA, UK, Japan link to purchase.

Forza
Italia

Forza Italia: A Journey in Search of Italy and Its Football 

Paddy Agnew

Ebury Press

ISBN: 0091905613
Paperback, 320pp

There could not be a timelier book as the Italian national team prepares to travel to the World Cup in the midst of a scandal engulfing its entire football culture.
Paddy Agnew is the perfect person to write this part memoir, part analysis of what makes Italian football so unique: The Irish journalist has lived in Italy for twenty years and during this time has encountered the likes of Diego Maradona, Sven-Goran Eriksson and Silvio Berlusconi, whose political party - named after a football chant - gave the book its name. He also has his eye on the ball and is eerily prescient about the current scandal, which he saw coming over the horizon.
Front line reports of the big names and events in Italian football are interspersed with tales of Roman life seen through a foreigner's eyes. These interludes are fascinating and sometimes jaw-dropping but serve to illuminate why Italian football is the way it is, an enormous sub-culture that springs organically from its parent country.
Brimming with colourful anecdotes and adroit analysis, Forza Italia is the must-read for those with an interest in the pressure-cooker of calcio who want to know what it really feels like on the ground.
With the current mega-scandal exploding on the eve of another World Cup, tournaments which tend to be cataclysmic affairs for the azzurri, there could be no better accompaniment.

Sean O'Conor

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Outcasts
United

Outcasts United

Warren St. John

Fourth Estate

ISBN: 0007264356
Paperback, 320pp

A team of refugee children find a home away from home in Warren St.John's touching and empathetic book 'Outcasts United'.
The kids in question have witnessed all manor of trauma - war, rape, torture, seeing family murdered etc before having to start their lives again when the United Nations resettles them in a small town not far from Atlanta.
Their battles are far from over however as this conservative enclave is run by an all-American mayor who hates soccer and is policed by xenophobic cops, leaving the refugees to feel like real aliens in their new home. Enter Luma Mufleh, a single-minded Jordanian woman who after bravely leaving her homeland for good, had striven to live the American dream by herself.
One day she watches refugee kids hanging around doing nothing and decides to take control of the situation. She starts a football club called the Fugees and before long the immigrant half of Clarkston are all desperate to get involved. The book tells the story of the various people who are drawn together and chronicles a season in their lives, as Lumah fights to keep the club going in the face of a lukewarm or downright antagonistic locality. Her insistence on discipline and commitment to the cause almost drives her mad, but there is the strong undercurrent of a hero on a mission who will not fail.
An American tale perhaps, but also one about the globalised world we are all living in where football is a unifying power, and a force for good. The lost souls of Clarkston are handed a haven, an identity and a means of belonging by the Beautiful Game.
St. John might not be a born soccer writer but is a talented journalist with an knack of letting you into people's lives and making you identify with their innermost feelings. Expect to hear more of the Fugees' inspiring tale when the film version is released, but in the meantime read this thought-provoking book.

Sean O'Conor

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Calcio

Calcio

John Foot

Fourth Estate

ISBN: 0007175744
Paperback, 592pp

Tackling the Mount Everest that is Italian football has been a peak too high for English authors in the past. If there is one country where football is more than life and death it is surely Italy. This is the country where the best-selling newspapers are football ones, where Abramovich-style industrialists were buying up clubs as far back as the 1920s and where the Prime Minister not only owns the nation's top team but named his political party after a football chant.
But with "Calcio - A History of Italian Football", John Foot has finally scaled the mountain and 592 pages later planted a flag of academic authority at the summit.
Highly readable, the book is part chronicle of the game in Italy and part probe into the issues that make Italian football so particular. The early years of football have been meticulously researched and throw up alternatively charming or eye-opening anecdotes, such as Reading trouncing Milan 5-0 or a game between Lucca and Viareggio that ended with an armed uprising the Italian army took two days to put down.
Further chapters explore the famous teams, players and managers as well as the media, political and commercial interference and the myriad scandals that have given calcio a shady reputation overseas. The running theme is that football in Italy resembles a gigantic bonfire, fuelled by an addicted population, bewitching everyone while growing ever more grotesque and dangerous by the day. While our word fan is the shortened form of fanatic, the Italian one, tifo, is short for typhoid-sufferer.
If Foot has any axe to grind it is rightly with the ultras and their unacceptable grip on Italian clubs, who are still running scared of them in 2006. One can only hope books like this will help open Italian eyes to the outrageous way these semi-hooligans carry on with impunity, and free tickets, while attendances across the board in Serie A are falling.
At the end, Foot admirably confesses he has almost fallen out of love with his subject matter, but like Italy itself, calcio goes on, ugly and beautiful in equal measure.
There are several memorable photos throughout the book and an accompanying glossary of Italian football terminology. "Calcio" is not just the first English-language survey of Italian football but has set an impressive benchmark for football histories in general.

Sean O'Conor

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My Father

My Father and Other Working Class Football Heroes

Gary Imlach

Yellow Jersey Press

ISBN: 0224072684
Paperback, 256pp

One of only four football books to win the William Hill Sports Book of the Year award, My Father and Other Working Class Football Heroes is a touching tale of a son's quest to know his father, in the process painting a valuable canvas of the lost world of English football.
Imlach's father Stewart played for Scotland at the 1958 World Cup and won the FA Cup with Nottingham Forest a year later, but the young Gary knew little of his life until he went looking after his death, discovering amid yellowed newspaper files and recollections of elderly colleagues an era of low-wage, grafting, bread & butter footballers, utterly unrecognizable to today's 'baby Bentley' prima donnas.
The final two chapters, recording how the stars of yesteryear have fallen as fast as they had risen, and the author's melancholy admission that he was falling out of love with football as his father was dying are particularly poignant.
Like Tony Cascarino's extraordinary autobiography Full Time, this comes from an unexpected source. But, like the former Irish international, sports presenter Gary Imlach has produced a studied work of pathos and a considered reflection on the game's social importance to those involved.
Eschewing the conventional approaches to sports histories, Imlach's vested interest in unearthing the past endows a football story with nostalgia-free emotion and creates an instant classic of the genre.

Sean O'Conor

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The Fan

The Fan

Hunter Davies

Pomona Press

ISBN: 1904590020
Paperback, 352pp

As a season-ticket holder for both Tottenham Hotspur and their North London rivals Arsenal, Hunter Davies has a stronger claim than most to the title of "The Fan".
His loyalties lie with Spurs (he shares his Highbury seat with another semi-regular), but as he explains with his trademark good humour, his true passion is the game of football itself.
That love, though, is not unconditional. In his collection of observations of the game between 1996 and 2003 - first published in his fortnightly column in The New Statesman - the prolific and celebrated author is clearly unhappy with the direction the British game has taken in an era when Sky dictates kick-off times and players earn tens of thousands of pounds a week before the bum-fluff has been blown from their chins.
Like many supporters with middle-class sensibilities, Hunter had a satellite dish installed only when it dawned on him that any attempt to face down the Murdoch media juggernaut would be self-defeating, depriving him, as it would, of his raison d'etre - long afternoons and evenings in front of the box, soaking up anything from the Champions League to the French lower divisions.
The original format for his musings mean the chapters can seem unconnected - a diary this is not. But all of the important occasions are there: Euro 2000, the departure of "our Kev" and the arrival of Sven, the World Cup in Japan and South Korea, and the stirrings of Rooney-mania.
In between we are treated to entertaining digressions - set out in short, pithy chapters - on everything from following Carlisle United, Davies's topsy-turvy diet, his neighbours in the stands, the FA, Sky (again), Julie Burchill's excruciating attempt to explain David Beckham's sex appeal, Prince William's support for Aston Villa and, in a more serious vein, Spurs' latter-day neglect of their elderly former legend, Bill Nicholson.
There are also vignettes from the Davies household, usually involving genteel digs at his wife, who, despite her preference for evenings alone at the theatre or cinema, probably knows more about football than her hubby lets on.
Who, after all, could have lived with a man of Davies's obsessive nature for so long and not be influenced by it?
The reader's time in his company is limited to a few hours over 300-plus pages, but his seductive techniques, buttressed by amiability and humour, are no less sharp for that. For most of us a season spent watching football at White Hart Lane is a terrifying prospect, but one imagines being able to sit next to Davies at his wryest every other Saturday would make it more than bearable.
Compared with the (surely worn-out) fandom genre whose writers delight in recalling pints sunk and noses split, or miles clocked and funny foreigners encountered, Davies occupies another football universe. As a highly recommended close-season read through "The Fan" should prove, "Hunt" is no mere "supporter with a pen," but, happily for us, a first-rate writer who happens to be barking about "footer".

Justin McCurry

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Farewell but not Goodbye

Farewell but not Goodbye

Sir Bobby Robson

Hodder & Stoughton

ISBN: 034082347X
Paperback, 352pp

Sir Bobby takes us on a stroll down memory lane here in his 2005 autobiography, a leisurely trip through a life steeped in football. From his days down North-Eastern mines right through to his less than ceremonious exit from Newcastle United, the club he grew up supporting, Robson's is an endearing story of a life far-travelled and come full circle.
This is well-written, engaging and packed full of anecdotes and quips from the dressing room and training ground involving younger versions of household names - certain misters Gascoigne, Moore, Figo, Ronaldo and Mourinho are just a few - and reminders of those half-forgotten in football history. Starting out at Fulham, by his own admission he had less than an illustrious career playing club football (no medals and his best was a fourth place finish with West Brom) before time with England as player then coach ("It wasn't the hand of God, it was the hand of a rascal") and then off on his globetrotting international career, battling cancer a couple of times on the way, the faithful Elsie, wife of fifty odd years always by his side, propping him up when needed.
You can't help but hear Sir Bobby's distinctive voice taking delight in recalling his eventful life with relish, probably with a finger wagging and a glassy look in his eyes. His age obviously comes in here, the book reading like a story that only an old man could tell, but the beauty of this is you've got a get out card - it's a book. You don't have to sit there awkwardly for that little bit too long stifling yawns, you can shut him up at any time by just putting it down. But make sure you come back to it again later, because it's good stuff.

Paul Robinson

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National Pastime: Buy this book from Amazon.

National Pastime

Stefan Szymanski and Andrew Zimbalist

Brookings Institution Press

ISBN: 0-8157-8258-6
263pp

"National cultures are built around national pastimes." How we play games helps to define how we perceive ourselves. This book analyzes the story of two great sports - America's game, and the world's game.

Baseball is the national sport in America, a national obsession that remains limited to North America, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and several islands in the Caribbean. Soccer is truly the world's game, a sport that no one nation can claim as its own (though some in England might try). Unlike the World Series, the World Cup is truly international and often a measure of national self-esteem. National Pastime is the first cross-cultural comparison of these sporting passions and the mega-businesses they have spawned and become.

Stefan Szymanski and Andrew Zimbalist examine how organizational structures have made Major League Baseball a hugely profitable business - thanks in large part to its monopolistic protection under US law - while soccer leagues around the world struggle to break even. The authors go back to the beginning of baseball and British football - and how these games became businesses.

In their final chapter, the authors discuss how baseball and soccer can learn from each other. This is an engaging and fun read. Whether you are a baseball or soccer/football fan, you will enjoy National Pastime.

C. Ogawa

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The Miracle
of Castel di Sangro

The Miracle of Castel di Sangro
A Real Life Footballing Fairy Tale

Joe McGinniss

ISBN: 0767905997
Paperback, 416pp, 16pp b&w illustrations.

American journalist, Joe McGinnis spends the 1996-97 season in the Italian boondocks with impoverished small town club Castel di Sangro, who by a 'miracle' have risen to the heady heights of Serie B, the second tier of Italian professional football.
More than a fly-on-the-wall account of proceedings on the pitch, McGinnis, like him or loathe him, paints a tragi-comic picture of Italian provincial life that tourists never see. Tension mounts as the team face the drop back to the obscurity of Serie C while McGinnis draws the reader deeper into the unfolding, troubling events at the club, which climax in a sudden, unexpected and disturbing finale.
The Miracle of Castel di Sangro
is a lasting classic footballing story with a human touch and a must-read primer for fans of Italian soccer history.
The corruption at the heart of this book remains a disturbing given in the game in Italy to this day as we fast forward to Calciopoli and Scommessopoli.

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Provided You
Don't Kiss Me
20 Years With
Brian Clough

Provided You Don't Kiss Me - 20 years with Brian Clough

Duncan Hamilton

ISBN: 0007247109
Fourth Estate; Paperback, 256pp

The legend of the green sweatshirt grows by the day but 'Provided You Don't Kiss Me - 20 years with Brian Clough' is the first book written by one of King Clough's inner circle.
Throughout Clough's Nottingham Forest years, Duncan Hamilton was within spitting distance, at first as a sheepish teenage reporter at the City Ground and before long traveling with the players on the team bus and sitting across the desk from the boss every day.
This is a riveting tale of how greatness rises and falls, a chronicle of how nagging insecurities and internal weaknesses eventually conquering a publicly swaggering genius. Touching and eloquently written, 'Provided You Don't Kiss Me' is Clough in close-up - a painfully honest, word-for-word, as-it-happened history of an amazing man at his best and worst.
Anyone who remembers Clough should read this book, and anyone who doesn't too - for he was one of the true characters of the English game.
Every chapter reveals extraordinary incidents - vignettes of Clough's coaching genius, his myriad eccentricities, moments of human pathos, drink-fuelled rages, bitter rants and quarrels, or acts of family love and random kindness.
While accepting the enigma of Clough will endure, Hamilton has probably come closer than anyone ever will to distilling a remarkable football coach and unforgettable man.

Sean O'Conor

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Comrade Jim

Comrade Jim - The Spy Who Played For Spartak

Jim Riordan

ISBN: 0007251149
Fourth Estate; Paperback, 240pp

A few years ago a man pretending to be George Weah's cousin hoodwinked Graeme Souness into giving him a run-out for Southampton.
Portsmouth-born Jim Riordan's appearance for Moscow Spartak in 1963 was equally amazing, given he was in Russia not as a footballer but as a translator and communist activist, yet unlike the fake Saint, he was called back by the club to play for them again.
Imagine taking part in a Sunday league game and later that day arriving at a stadium as one of 50,000 fans, only to discover you are going to be on the field!
While that is an amazing tale in itself, this engrossing and touching memoir is far more a valuable document of the failed communist dream. Like many others from across the globe, Riordan travelled to Moscow fuelled by the desire to forge a better world from the ashes of the war.
Football does not get much of a mention until halfway in and despite the title, does not form the centerpiece of this engaging autobiography, but the author's vivid recollections of Soviet life, and the famous faces he mixed with make this the most enjoyable book I have read this year.

Sean O'Conor

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The Damned Utd

The Damned Utd

David Peace

ISBN: 0571224334
Faber and Faber; Paperback, 368pp

David Peace's 'The Damned Utd' is a landmark book in the soccer canon because it hauls football into the domain of the historical novel. Lavished with praise from the literati, this will appeal just as much to any fan ever touched by the entrancing madness of King Brian Clough. David Peace impersonates 'Ole Big 'Ead' during his 44 days of hell at Leeds United in 1974, to recount one of the most bizarre and enigmatic episodes of post-war English football. Despite sitting on the fiction shelves, this reads throughout like Cloughie himself is speaking, unbeatable in the fortress of his own ego, desperate to get his revenge on life's slings and arrows, but doomed once more to go down in merciless flames when he steps into the lair of his demons. Peace has scoured the history books, newspaper cuttings and player biographies of the period to produce what is really a new departure for soccer literature, a novel which feels uncannily like a real testament of sporting history. 2009 sees the release of the feature film version of 'The Damned Utd', surely one of the greatest football books yet written.

Sean O'Conor

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Garrincha

Garrincha: The Triumph and Tragedy of Brazil's Forgotten Footballing Hero

Ruy Castro; Translated by Andrew Downie

ISBN: 0224064320
Yellow Jersey Press; Paperback, 436pp

The 'little bird' won the World Cup in 1958, was the star of the 1962 Finals, scored 232 league goals and is considered by many Brazilians to be greater than Pelé. Yet his name and fame were largely forgotten once television arrived and Ruy Castro has written an important book to revive his reputation.
Garrincha was a fine player indeed but that was nothing compared to what he did off-field. To call his life a rollercoaster would be an understatement. Having grown up in rural poverty he moved to the big city of Rio to become a footballer but never grew up. His life involved a legion of lovers and numerous children, grinding poverty and fabulous riches, astounding fame, success, addiction and finally tragedy. In comparison George Best has led a quiet life.
That Garrincha's sublime skill and remarkable story have been forgotten is wrong and this meticulously researched book, charming and astounding throughout in equal measure, has pleasingly set the record straight. A great tale about an exceptional human being.

Sean O'Conor

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Fever Pitch

Fever Pitch

Nick Hornby

ISBN: 0140293442
Penguin; Paperback, 256pp

You must've seen the movie, you must've read the book, he's a mellow yellow feline...well, two of these lines apply to Hornby's Fever Pitch, still more than very probably the world's most famous football book over ten years after its publication. Seen the film? Haven't read the book? If not, why not and if yes, well it's about time you read it again. Don't like football? Doesn't matter, read the thing anyway.
A book not just about football for football fans, but about obsession, about a burning, inexplicable (I mean I could understand it with the Mighty Boro, but Arsenal...) passion and where it drags the author over the years from his childhood in the sixties and seventies through to his continuing childhood in the early nineties.
Often hilarious, always engaging and well written, Fever Pitch is Hornby's attempt at making sense of his obsession, to put it into perspective in the grand scheme of things and maybe help people on the outside of this phenomenon to understand somehow. But of course there is no sense to be made of it, it just happens, it just is, and that's what makes it so interesting, so funny and a bloody good read.

Paul Robinson

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When Beckham
Went to Spain

When Beckham Went to Spain: Power, Stardom and Real Madrid

Jimmy Burns

ISBN: 0718147472
Paperback, 272pp
Michael Joseph

The prospect of another hagiography of Goldenballs would sink the hearts of all but the starry-eyed teenager, but this one is different. What makes this worth reading is the fact that Becks' celebrity circus has touched down in Spain, a country a world away from England, and specifically at Real Madrid, a galaxy away from Manchester United. In fact, those of us jaded by the prospect of more Beckhamology will be pleasantly surprised by the fact Jimmy Burns largely ignores him.
Few are better qualified to write this tale than Burns. The author is half Spanish, grew up in Madrid and has published a guide to Spanish literature as well as working for the FT, BBC & The Economist amongst others. His two football works, 'Barça - A People's Passion' and 'Hand of God - The Life of Diego Maradona' were top-drawer football texts and not Harry Harris-style sycophantic potboilers. The book weaves between Beckham's celebrity and Spain's story of Franco, Catalonia, corridas, cojones and futebol.
Beckham comes across as a tool for Real, a man of little intrinsic substance who will ultimately not amount to much. We learn little here we do not already know about Goldenballs and there is more evidence that the end of his Real days will come to pass thanks to the increasingly destructive provincial mindset and xenophobic tantrums of his far from 'posh' wife Victoria.

Sean O'Conor

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Pyramid Football Guide

Pyramid Football Guide To Non-League 2004-5

Joe Bush (Editor)

ISBN: 0954346653
Paperback, 190pp
IBS Publishing

If you have yet to savour the delights of English lower league football, then what sublime pleasures and delights await you: For here beats the true heart of English football with its die-hard fans who wouldn't swap it for the Premiership any day. For the uninitiated, there is no better starting-point than the Pyramid Football Guide to Non-League 2004-05, a superb 200-page glossy guide to the teams and competitions below England's four full-time professional divisions. Here you will find the Blyth Spartans, Hickley Towns and Leigh RMIs of this world; as the cover says, "local clubs for local people". There are six divisions covered, plus resumes of all the major competitions, useful local information and excellent directions for finding the stadia, never an easy task at this level! In the introduction, editor Joe Bush rightly mentions the "value, history and unique nature" of this level of football, "a culture", he continues, "that you would struggle to find anywhere else in the world and whose praises we should all be keen to sing."

Sean O'Conor

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Morbo

Morbo: The Story of Spanish Football

Phil Ball

ISBN: 0954013468
Paperback, 256pp
WSC Books

Having emerged from Serie A's shadow in the late 1990s, La Liga is Europe's No.1 destination right now with Real Madrid's Galacticos, Beckham and all, and a Ronaldinho-inspired Barcelona at the helm of a new golden age of Spanish football.
In this superb guide, Phil Ball really gets under the skin of el fútbol, tracking it from its origins in the dusty town of Huelva in the 1880s to the Bernabeu and Nou Camp of today via the fierce local pride of teams such as Athletic Bilbao, Valencia and Deportivo La Coruña and the sorry saga of a national team that never delivers.
As much a cultural history of modern Spain as a guide to its football, Ball proves that the two in this case are one and the same.

Sean O'Conor

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Flick-to-kick

Flick-to-kick: An Illustrated History of Subbuteo

Daniel Tatarsky

ISBN: 0752860836
112 pp

Ah, Subbuteo - the flicking of little figures around a crumpling sheet of green baize that boys young and old recall so fondly. In the now forgotten age before computers, Subbuteo was the closest approximation to soccer to be found in a game format and could also be played alone, allowing the fan to indulge his own fantasies based on the beautiful game. Everyone who was into football at school, it seemed, owned a Subbuteo set.
This charming book, great value in hardback at £7.99 and wonderfully illustrated, retells the history of this curious game. For so long a cottage industry of hand-painted figurines, Subbuteo (Latin for 'hobby') was started in 1947 by a Kent man more interested in ornithology than football who deliberately sited new factories in areas good for bird-watching.
As well as historical nuggets such as the police investigating the company over the theft of the World Cup in 1966, there is plenty on those eccentric accessories plus its lesser-known editions, which included speedway, angling and snooker! When its makers announced in 2000 it was to be withdrawn there was an outpouring of piqued nostalgia, and they were forced to retract. As the author triumphantly concludes, "As long as the game of football is played I believe so will the game of Subbuteo".

Sean O'Conor

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The Fashion Of Football

The Fashion Of Football: Soccer From Best To Beckham, From Mod To Label Slave

Paolo Hewitt & Mark Baxter

ISBN: 1840188073
224 pp

Music and style journalist Paolo Hewitt and friend Mark Baxter decided to chart a neglected theme running through modern football history: The clothes. From the wildly dressed George Best in the swinging sixties to the Armani-ed Premiership boys of today, sartorial style has accompanied footballers in England. And running parallel to the players' styles is the story of the fans' attire.
The Fred Perry and Tacchini tops of the 1970s through the 'casual' looks of the eighties to today's Stone Island-clad lads is an equally important part of England's football culture that completes the picture of football culture. But this is as much a book about style and youth culture itself than its football-related history, written in a free and unchained style, where Soho's Bar Italia rubs shoulders with 1960s London boutiques, '70s mods, Rodney Marsh and David Beckham.

Sean O'Conor

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Those Feet

Those Feet - A Sensual History of English Football

David Winner

ISBN: 0747547386
288 pp

In a follow up to the magnificent "Brilliant Orange - The Neurotic Genius of Dutch Football", David Winner tackles the kaleidoscopic character of the English game, a far from easy task.
His excellent opening chapter on the Victorian origins of football is enough to shock readers expecting a conventional narrative as it postulates the thesis that the aggressive English style is a direct consequence of a long-held national angst about masturbation.
Winner bravely tries to cover all bases in his psycho-analytical overview of the national game. Other chapters address nostalgia, xenophobia, the weather, pessimism and the loose concept of 'Englishness' forged in our imperial heyday. Whilst it is easy to pick holes in many of Winner's ideas, at the same time books of this type have elevated football literature to levels that would have been unthinkable twenty years ago.

Sean O'Conor

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Ajax

Ajax, the Dutch, the War - Football in Europe During The Second World War

Simon Kuper

ISBN: 0752842749
256 pp

Simon Kuper's second book after "Football Against the Enemy", a collection of intelligent football essays that won the William Hill Sports Book of The Year Award is a heartfelt study of football amidst society in World War Two. Kuper himself is a Jew who grew up in Holland loving football and imbibing the national myth of the Netherlands as a beacon of tolerance.
In this book he shines an uncomfortable light on the truth of Dutch's less than stellar war record - more Jews were deported per capita than in any nation outside Germany whilst millions stood by and did nothing, all set alongside the parallel world of Ajax, the 'Jewish club' of Amsterdam, who lost one of their players, Eddie Hamel, to the gas chambers.
A well-written and engrossing read that crosses the boundaries of sport, history and politics.

Sean O'Conor

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Woody & Nord

Woody & Nord: A Football Friendship

Gareth Southgate & Andy Woodman

ISBN: 0141012145
Paperback, 304pp
Penguin

Woody & Nord tells the story of 2 very close friends - Gareth Southgate & Andy Woodman - who met and became the best of friends as young, wide eyed apprentices dreaming of the future at Crystal Palace, their contrasting career paths at different ends of the professional football spectrum and the lasting bond of friendship between them.
The book is a refreshing take on the footballer autobiography/ghost writer format, providing an interesting look into the workings of the mysterious world of professional football at the highest and lowest levels. Gareth with Aston Villa, Middlesbrough and England while Andy struggles to earn a living in the lower leagues and stay in professional football as long as possible - Southgate's search for professional fulfilment versus Andy's fight for mere financial survival.
The book does, especially towards the beginning, seem like it might become a tad too sentimental any time soon, though they manage to veer away from that path in the nick of time to make a very interesting and entertaining read, one of best football biographies, and certainly the best autobiography (if you forget about the ever present lovely assistant) out there at the moment.
The one thing that appears to have remained constant throughout both players' turbulent careers is their friendship, but this aspect isn't excessively pushed on the reader, it is simply an onrunning thread that is worked quite subtly into the text, providing a link between what are, on the surface, two very different footballing characters and careers and giving an extra perspective on events. Don't worry, it doesn't become a full on heartwarming Nick Hornby affair that it has the potential to do, but instead makes a much more interesting propositon of each player's individual biography. Gareth himself admits that his and Woody's own separate autobiographies would hardly have anyone but their most diehard (Are there any of you out there?) fans waiting with baited breath.
Both players manage very well to give a thoughtful, informed analysis of football's disappointments, disillusionment and triumphs and the similarities and differences of very different levels of the game through their own experiences, being two players who are very much at critical points in their lives. They both have lot of serious thinking to do about their futures making it the ideal time to look back.

Paul Robinson

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The Best of Enemies

The Best of Enemies: England v. Germany, a Century of Football Rivalry

David Downing

ISBN: 0747549788
Hardcover, 251pp

Downing's book is a fascinating and thoughtful look at one of football's most exciting/ passionate/ dull/ controversial/ over-rated (delete as you see fit) clashes - the England vs Germany match. Downing examines England-Germany games at both international and club level - the triumphs, the failures and the (gulp, swallow the pride and whisperingly admit it) far too regular mediocrity of arguably the most eagerly awaited event in any English football calendar - from their very first meeting in the death throes of the nineteenth century up until the Euro 2000 group stage meeting in Charleroi.
As an historian and football fan, he brings the best of both worlds together in writing this book, giving us history without sterility and managing to conveying the excitement and passion of the beautiful game without coming across as just another overzealous fan. England & Germany meetings over the years are recounted in a refreshingly objective way; accounts are presented from numerous sources from both sides of the divide and subtly peppered with his own comment. The best way to put it might be that it's like the story's told by a very knowledgeable bloke in the pub but without the droning on, repetition, off-track ramblings or spit flying into your pint.
And you can easily get away from it if you want. Downing writes about the actual football in tandem with the games' social and political background, painting a vivid picture of the times in which they were played and their importance (or lack of it). We go from the first ever meeting with "youngish, fit-looking men" reading about the developments in the Boer war as they travel to Berlin by a combination of train, horse-drawn cabs and foot, through the "shameful salute", the world wars and the English-German sentiments left in their wake and, of course, 1966 to the tabloid frenzies and penalty shootout disappointments of recent years. It all adds up to give a fuller understanding of these games' effect on each nation's psyche as well as being an utterly entertaining, revealing and often piss-funny read. Stereotypes and the perceived differences of the two nations are presented and deconstructed and, maybe surprisingly for some, a hell of a lot of similarities are revealed (possibly the source of a lot of England-German animosity, but that's by the bye).
The Best of Enemies is a great book that manages to provide everything that a lot of books try and fail to - it's got heroes, villains, highs, lows, cry-babies, bad losers, blinkered idiots, inspirational mavericks, unsung heroes - and all with the added bonus of being true! And about football! Woohoo!

Paul Robinson

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Referee

Referee: A Year in the Life of David Elleray

David Elleray

ISBN: 0747536929
Hardcover, 256pp

Take a little trip down memory lane to the 1997-98 season and peek into the diary of one of football's most respected and thus, on more than the odd occasion, hated professional men in black (green/blue/yellow - delete as applicable). In "Referee: A year in the life»" posh nob David Elleray gives a day to day account of refereeing at the highest level, juggling the life of a Premiership match official with that of a Harrow Housemaster with all the stress and reward that entails. Due to the diary format it occasionally gets bogged down in the minutiae of daily affairs but the account gains momentum as the season progresses and we follow Mr. Elleray to such far flung locations as Saudi Arabia, Brazil and Keele University as well as all the usual Premier League haunts, ending with his appraisal of the 1998 World Cup as viewed from the eyes of a referee who was unfortunately unable to participate. It's an eye opener to see what a referee has to cope with when not being screamed at and abused by all and sundry on a Saturday afternoon and may even, horror of horrors, evoke a little sympathy in some football fans. Of course, not only the pressures and the pitfalls of refereeing are covered here, but also the praise and reward that comes from being one of the most respected figures in football, not just from the powers that be but from fans too. Mr Elleray comes across as a serious professional whose heart belongs to the game, though it causes no end of conflict with other aspects of his life while at the same time providing him with life-affirming experiences that would be so difficult to give up. Mr Elleray said in one TV interview, "The challenge was to say something interesting without being too controversial", and that is what he has managed to do here - there is a little bit of bitching and a good dose of personal opinion thrown in, but nothing that could cause him grief in future seasons. An essential read for anyone who has realised that they may never score for England and is thinking of refereeing seriously and a good holiday read for fans of the game generally - no matter what your opinion of the blokes with the cards. Even Mackems can find solace in Elleray's words and convince themselves that the Stadium of Light is indeed one of the games "great footballing cathedrals".

Paul Robinson

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Among The Thugs

Among The Thugs

Bill Buford

ISBN: 0099416344
Paperback, 316pp

 

Classic and often comic must-read account of American journalist meets British football hooligans in the 1980s and 1990s. Standing on a railway platform one Saturday afternoon someone aims an empty vodka bottle at the author from a passing train and Buford sets out to find out why.
Ex-Granta editor Bill Buford thus begins his epic journey to the ugly heart of fan violence starting with Manchester United in Turin in 1984 and Among The Thugs reaches a personal, painful climax with England at the World Cup in Sardinia at Italia 90.
In a series of thrilling narratives describing his dark odyssey of discovery into football mob violence, Buford takes us along to comprehend the attraction and ultimate repulsion of that oft-repeated euphemism 'crowd trouble'.
If you only ever read one book about football violence this should be it. it remains a classic of the genre.

David Oak

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England's Quest

England's Quest for the World Cup: A Complete Record 1950-2002, Third Edition

Clive Leatherdale

ISBN: 1874287619
Paperback, 334pp

The FA's aloofness and wariness of 'Johnny-foreigner' kept England out of the first three FIFA World Cups.
Leatherdale's absorbing book kicks off in 1950 when the Home Internationals were first used as World Cup qualifiers and Scotland declined to go to Brazil in 1950 as 'runners-up'. Every subsequent England qualifying game and World Cup match comes complete with a detailed and compelling match report and full statistics, scorers and attendance. The strengths of the book lie in Leatherdale's precise and fluent prose, which never lapses into any glorification of England's checkered history in the competition and the intriguing subplot of England's continuing failure to adapt their football for success on foreign fields.
The appendix has a complete list of England's World Cup goal scorers, goalkeepers, captains and records against other teams. The statistics reveal England have never beaten Brazil in a World Cup game and the book as a whole reveals many of the reasons why.

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World Cup Panini Collections: Click on the image to purchase.

World Cup Panini Collections 1970-1998

Hardback, 290x230, 472 pages, full colour throughout.

The best-selling book on Soccerphile.com in 2002 and deservedly so!
A superb and nostalgic collection of Panini stickers and cards of all the teams and players from the 1970 World Cup in Mexico up to France 1998.
Includes the official World Cup logos and posters. A true collector's item.
The Italian company may have temporarily suspended sale of their stickers as a protest against Italy's elimination in Korea, but don't miss out on this.

This book is available on Bol.com's Italian site - search for "World Cup Panini".


Ultra Nippon

Ultra Nippon: How Japan Reinvented Football

Jonathan Birchall

Paperback - 249 pages including 8 pages of b/w images.
This edition 1 March, 2001
ISBN: 0747264090

A forerunner of English language writing on Japanese football, BBC correspondent Jonathan Birchall spends the 1999-2000 season following Shimizu S-Pulse as they pursue J.League glory under English manager Steve Perryman. Birchall gets to grips with all the now-familiar idiosyncrasies of Japan's football experience: fans who don't fight but sing in unison and clean up after the game, passive players who lack initiative and the strident foreigners struggling to get their message across at any given time, in this case Perryman, Dragan Stojkovic and the 'evil' Dunga.
While Birchall's narrative about Shimizu's ultimately frustrating season in particular and the early years of the J.League in general is interesting enough, the author can't resist telling us into the bargain what an odd place Japan appears to bemused Western journalists. So be prepared for a few chortles at the expense of the usual targets - salaryman suicides, fuzzed out pornography and space age vending machines selling sex aids. Still Ultra-Nippon is a good place to start on Japanese football as the genre grows after the World Cup.

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Japanese Rules

Japanese Rules: Japan & The Beautiful Game

by Sebastian Moffett

Paperback - 232 pages (2 May, 2002)
Yellow Jersey Press;
ISBN: 0224062050

It is a somewhat brave move to release a book on Japanese football without covering World Cup 2002, but for Moffett, the interest lies in the working week that made the big party possible. Before Japan was ready to host the world's largest sporting event, football had to be procured, promoted and popularised in a country that was, in many ways, unsuited to the world's favourite sport. Japanese Rules tells us how the explosive but short-lived boom for football came about and how the J-League stuttered along until the big event with both the objective viewpoint of an anthropologist and the close focus of a documentary maker. The stories of Japanese organisers, players and fans looking abroad for inspiration and of foreigners coming to Japan and overcoming cultural obstacles tell the story of Japan's love-hate relationship with the outside world in microcosm. So Japanese Rules is not thin on historical, economic and cultural context, all essential for understanding any phenomenon of modern Japan. Moffett, a long-term resident of Japan, was clearly following events closely at the time which also gives his tightly-written prose vivid colour. His match reports are filled with tension and there are moments in this book that are truly moving, such as the account of Gary Lineker's last game for Grampus 8 - a must read for any fans still smarting over that Graham Taylor substitution. But the real strength of this book is just how much it allows its cast to speak for themselves. Moffett has digested volumes of Japanese football books, news reports and has conducted many of his own interviews of major figures in the football scene. The result is a text littered with well-chosen quotes and revealing facts giving strength to insightful conclusions. This is the definitive article in explaining how soccer secured its foothold in a most unlikely corner of the world.

Will Yong

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Tor!

Tor! The Story Of German Football

Uli Hesse-Lichtenberger

ISBN: 095401345X
WSC Books
pp 304

"Tor! The Story of German Football"- is a fascinating account of the game in Germany: its roots in the athletic clubs of the eighteenth century; World War 1; the rise of the Nazis and World War II; the first international successes, especially the surprising win against Hungary in 1954; the subsequent formation of the DFB in West Germany; the game in East Germany; the lows of the 80s; and up to the present state of the game. Written by Dortmund fan Hesse-Lichtenberger, who doesn't shirk passing judgment on those with whom he disagrees or mentioning his own wardrobe of torn jeans, the book also goes into the geo-political reasons for the health or otherwise of German football. Together with the lesser-known figures he mentions, there are all the famous players of the game in Germany: Günther Netzer, Overath, Paul Breitner, Berti Vogts, Uli & Dieter Hoeness, Rudi Völler, Kevin Keegan, Effenberg, Jürgen Klinsmann, Fritz Walter, et al, as well as the five German European Footballers of the Year - Gerd Müller, Franz Beckenbauer, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Lothar Matthäus and Matthias Sammer. And the teams: amongst others, Borussia Moenchengladbach, Borussia Dortmund, Werder Bremen, Hamburg, Nuremburg, Fürst, Kaiserslautern, Schalke 04, Köln, Stuttgart, 1860, and, of course, the most powerful, successful and hated team in the land: Bayern Munich.
The book successfully manages to put many ill-conceived notions of the nature of German football to bed, such as the aura of invincibility that surrounds it due to consummate professionalism. In fact, the German leagues teams' players were still amateurs when the national team won the World Cup in 1954, and corruption has surfaced periodically in the game.
At club level, German teams have not fared as well in European competition as English, Spanish or Italian teams - a point overlooked by Hesse-Lichtenberger.
However, it is in the international sphere where Germany has achieved real success, with three World Cup victories to its name, equal to Italy and surpassed only by Brazil. Uli Hesse-Lichtenberger recounts not only the excitement of the wins, but also details such as the tentative national feelings aroused in the post-World War II period. It's a must-read for anyone curious to know the game as it is played in Germany, and would be particularly interesting for those fans planning to watch the upcoming 2006 World Cup in Germany. That's four billion of us, then.

Peter Rodd

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Dynamo

Dynamo: Defending The Honour Of Kiev

Andy Dougan

Paperback - 254 pages (4 March, 2002)
Fourth Estate; ISBN: 1841153192

This is a book for those interested in the space between football and morality. It's the tale of everyday folk caught by surprise by Hitler's attack on the Soviet Union in June 1941. These shocked citizens included footballers, and these in turn included the talented members of the Dynamo Kiev team. How did they react to the Nazi occupation of their homeland? Under what conditions did they live and die? Dynamo starts brightly yet gently with a sentence designed to catch the eye of a publisher: "Valentina and Alexei were very much in love, a blind man on a galloping horse could see that."
From this description of a wedding party the story wends its way to a darker, uglier place. Author Andy Dougan seems to be playing the role of a counter-attacking sweeper in his attempt to inform the reader of last thousand years of Ukrainian history whilst blending in the personal tales of the footballers involved, the fear of Stalin's legitimised thugs (the NKVD) and the death and terror brought by the brutal Germans. For those acquainted with John Houston's 1981 film "Victory", in which a group of WWII prisoners of war - including Pele and Mike Summerbee - play a match against the Germans for propaganda purposes, this book will strike a chord.
The film is pure invention, but Dynamo describes real matches between subjugated people and the occupying 'master race'. Should the more highly skilled Kiev players let the Germans win the game for fear of the consequences to themselves and the general population; or should they soundly beat them to show they were not cowed? It's an exciting read whether or not you are interested in history or football. Moreover it's a true story. Dougan also has done his homework in refuting the official Stalinist line concerning the events.
There are, however, a few annoying features of the book. The Dynamo Kiev goalkeeper, we are told, is not "unbeatable", as though there once existed a player possessing such a quality, which I doubt. And there is a small but unnecessary amount of hyperbole: the same keeper's "..eyes burned with a passion and intensity which spoke of his total love of football" and "..they won the USSR Cup for the first time in 1954 trouncing Ararat Yerevan.." A one-nil "trouncing"?! There is also, and strangely for a history book, no index; and this despite the range of personalities mentioned: from the composer Mussorgsky to the Mongolian Golden Horde, from Nazi film-maker Leni Riefenstahl to AC Milan star striker Andrij Schevchenko. Editing quirks aside, this is a very interesting work that reminds us that these evil happenings occurred only sixty years ago. It begs bigger questions, too. Could the world slip back into the dehumanised chaos of state-sponsored violence? Is the war-peace cycle inevitable? Verdict: one-nil to Andy Dougan.

Peter Rodd

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Going Oriental

Going Oriental: Football After World Cup 2002

Edited by Mark Perryman

Paperback - 192 pages (30 September, 2002)
Mainstream Sport; ISBN: 1840186771

From the man behind the "Philosophy Football" range of sporting attire comes a mixed kitbag of writings analysing the multi-faceted fallout from Asia's first World Cup. A major theme is the rehabilitation of Englishness as a result of an unexpectedly trouble-free tournament. The book's title belies the fact that it is less about Japan and Korea than it is about the foreign fans who either visited or stayed at home. Those wishing to gain an insight into Japanese football would do well to pick up copies of either Jonathan Birchall's "Ultra Nippon" or Sebastian Moffett's "Japanese Rules".
FIFA corruption also looms large over many of the essays and one good reason to read this book is David Conn's account of how Sepp Blatter got his sticky paws on World Cup 2002 and how his fingerprints have been subsequently removed. What works less well is some unnecessary intellectualising.
David Winner's look at the tournament through the prism of Chaos theory is as unenlightening as Wendy Wheeler's utopian argument that football is "a very significant part of... how humans are to manage the complex world in which we now live". Luckily though, most of the articles are immensely readable and all contain thought-provoking angles on the World Cup experience: from home, away, Japan, Korea, heartfelt fandom and cynical commercialism. As long as you don't mind Beckham on one wing and Baudrillard on the other, this is a timely requiem for World Cup 2002 before the ball rolls on to Portugal and Germany.

Will Yong

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Kicking

Kicking: Following the Fans into the Orient

David Willem

Paperback - 208 pages (October 2002)
Mainstream Sport; ISBN: 1840186232

A thick-leafed, deceptively short account of the World Cup through the eyes of an ex-English teacher in Japan. Willem tells of how the World Cup brought foreigners (especially the English) together with the Japanese on something of a cross-cultural first date. One side of this story is the way in which Japan won over its foreign guests with faultless organisation and countless random acts of "kamikaze kindness". In exchange, foreign fans provided entertainment. For the Japanese, the (mostly) good-natured irreverence of their guests constituted part of the World Cup circus. Willem describes many instances of these kinds of cultural exchange with a sharp eye and a keen wit although his photographs of the same are worthless.
Willem does not, however, limit himself to "World Cup world" as he calls it. Like many people who have lived in Japan for a couple of years, he has much to say about Japanese culture too. Many digressions are distinctly non-World Cup related but this adds depth to the overall World Cup experience by proxy that reading this book provides. But the sinister turning point is when Willem attends the court hearing of an Ireland fan who runs into trouble with the Japanese police for selling a single ticket. The Kafkaesque machinations of the Japanese legal system shows something of what lay beneath the surface glitter of the World Cup.

Will Yong

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My Big Lily

My Big Lily

Keith Norris

Paperback - 284 pages (2002)
Big Lily Productions; ISBN: 095437620X

Husband, father, company man, dog and cat owner, and above all devoted Manchester United fan, Keith Norris is the owner and creator of the eponymous flag Big Lily.
Personified throughout the book, Lily has gone on walkabout to Brazil, Spain, Thailand, Japan, Italy and of course, much of England. Norris contends that Lily is 'the biggest Manchester United supporter ever known;' at 100 feet long by 60 feet wide, in one sense he is surely right.
Norris has spirited this monster flag literally around the world to Man United matches. In the process, he has been 'befriended' by such luminaries as Roberto Carlos, Raul, and Fernando Hierro not to mention his Japanese wife. Although amusing in places - and very well-meaning - this is a book primarily for FOK (Friends of Keith), diehard Man United fans, or people on a beach with a lot of time on their hands. The book suffers mainly from repetition and an obvious lack of an editor.
Had there been fewer pub scenes 'having a laugh with' (fill in blank with FOK or footballer) and more on Northern Ireland and the history of Man United (the stronger parts of the book), it would have been a far better read.

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Badfellas

Badfellas: FIFA Family at War

John Sugden & Alan Tomlinson

Paperback - 256 pages (2003)
Mainstream Sport; ISBN: 1840186844

John Sugden and Alan Tomlison's account of FIFA's misrule of world football is the latest addition to the sizeable collection of books that address sleaze and corruption in the game. As such, it should appeal to anyone who enjoyed, say, David Yallop's 'How They Stole The Game' or, more recently, Tom Bower's 'Broken Dreams'. As an independent, authoritative history of FIFA and insight into the governing body's more illustrious characters, Badfellas cannot be faulted. Tomlinson and Sugden, both professors at the University of Brighton, write clean, measured journalese, while sparing us discussion of the minutiae of FIFA's day-to-day administration. But their central charge, that FIFA's name has been tarnished by a succession of megalomaniacs and creeping commercialism, though articulately made, has been leveled so many times the shock factor has all but disappeared.
There are several reasons for this, one of which is that Badfellas is not a new book, but an updated, amended version of the 1999 work 'Great Balls of Fire: How Big Money is Hijacking World Football'. Nevertheless, the new material is at times riveting; Sepp Blatter's controversial reelection as FIFA president at the 2002 Congress in Seoul, the collapse, on his watch, of FIFA's marketing partner ISL, the bidding campaign for the 2002 World Cup, and the successes and failures of the tournament itself. Interviews with various FIFA luminaries (not all of them are smug mercenaries, it was pleasing to discover) and first-hand accounts of the unsightly FIFA-corporate love-in that accompanies all major tournament are a joy to read and will raise the hackles of any fan who cares one iota about the game.
Elsewhere, all of the familiar episodes in FIFA's Hall of Shame are covered: Sir Stanley Rous's courting of white footballing authorities in apartheid South Africa, the rise and rise of Joao Havelange and the shambolic, though at times brilliantly spun, rise to the top of the Brazilian's prodigy Blatter. Some minor quibbles. The authors' failure to recognize the vast array of sources they must have drawn on to supplement their own interviews and research is poor form given their academic background, and the absence of an index is an irritant in a book of almost 300 pages.
The book could also have benefited from a more thorough edit to ensure that the inclusion of recent developments did not sit awkwardly with material written in the late 1990s. Parts of the chapter on the bidding war for last summer's World Cup were written as if the tournament had yet to take place, even though Badfellas was published this year and includes a chapter on Korea/Japan 2002. Early passages give the impression that Havelange is still FIFA president and-god forbid-that Graham Kelly still occupies an office at the English FA. The greed and corruption genus, like that of the hooligan memoir, is in danger of reaching saturation point. For the current penchant for attacking those at the very top of the game's administration to really invigorate football literature, the debate needs to be moved along. Thanks to Sugden, Tomlinson, Bower et al, we now know the nature of the problem and the identities of the chief culprits. So what, as fans, viewers and consumers, are we going to do about them? Merely thinking about that question will prompt inward groans of exasperation. But it needs answering.

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She Stood
There Laughing

She Stood There Laughing: A Man, His Son and Their Football Club

Stephen Foster

Paperback - 208 pages (2004)
Scribner UK; ISBN: 0743256832

From their glory days in the 1970s Stoke City fell into the lower leagues of English football in the subsequent two decades, offering little joy to their loyal fans. In the 2003-4 season however,with an influx of Icelandic(!) money and backing the team found itself in the First Division. She Stood There Laughing relates the tale of one man's support for his beloved team over the season and his relationship with his son through the medium of football. Unlike many football dads the writer doesn't force his affiliation on his offspring. "It's lifelong pain pain, misery and despair you're looking at here, you know that don't you?" he warns, further complicated by the fact that they live in Norwich some 200 miles away from Stoke. Nevertheless his son agrees to go along for the ride which includes trips to some of the less glamorous venues in England. The book is a reminder that for millions of people the football fan experience is not about following the high flying Man Uniteds and Real Madrids of this world but about devotion to underachieving teams that, at best, offer the possibility of a reasonable cup run or the joyous relief of avoiding relegation. In a kind of low-fi Fever Pitch the writer makes intellectual asides without being pretentious and is often quite funny. A little more background about the local Stoke-Port Vale rivalry might have been helpful for most readers but otherwise She Stands There Laughing is one of the better additions to the 'fanlit' canon.

Michael Marshall

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No More Buddha

No More Buddha, Only Football

Chris England

Hardback - 352 pages (2003)
Hodder & Stoughton; ISBN: 0340825472

A late addition to the list of writers and journalists who are paying for their World Cup jaunts by writing a book. Forget the guff on the dust jacket about "reliving the World Cup", Chris England's enjoyable diary gives us not so much the drama of the tournament as the story of a likeable Englishman re-igniting his passion for the game on very foreign ground.
Managing to follow his team all the way to the quarter-final against Brazil, England doesn't make it to Korea, referring to the events over there as "the other World Cup" and like any other fan, his World Cup experience is viewed as much from the sports bar as the stadium. Luckily for England and writers like him, the streets, hotels and watering holes of Japan provide more than enough opportunities for anecdotes and observations.
If you were an England fan at the World Cup, England's book reads like the diary you might have written if you had a pen as sharp. You'll find all the encounters with inedible food, hi-tech toilets and excessive politeness that you would expect from a first visit to Japan with enough references to Benny Hill, Carry On and TV snooker to make an Englishman feel at home. For those that didn't make it, it's an enjoyable chronicle of a discerning football fan's first encounter with unfamiliar territory.
The title comes from the mispronunciation of "no more borders" by an internationally minded young Japanese and many cultures do appear in England's book -- though always seen through the eyes of the quintessential Englishman. Noisy Americans, Ireland fans and Mexican Wave-ers all find themselves on the receiving end. However, the humour is as consistently warm as England himself is affable and readable. Icy satire is reserved for Sepp Blatter, the Premier League moguls and Rivaldo - just where it's required.

Will Yong

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Japan, Korea and
the 2002 World Cup

Japan, Korea and the 2002 World Cup

by John Horne, Wolfram Manzenreiter (Editors).

Paperback - 240 pages (2002)
London: Routledge; ISBN: 0415275636

How did the border-crossing ambitions of Hideyoshi (Toyotomi) in the late-sixteenth century influence whether or not Hidetoshi (Nakata) would be defending the national colours on home turf? Why did it take until 1998 before Japan made an appearance at a World Cup if the game of kickball (kemari) had been around since the sixth century? What's the social movement behind the omnipresent and ever-smiling volunteers active at the diverse venues? What drove the host cities to spend US$2,881 million of taxpayers' money in order to build ten "White Elephants" without even bothering to look at their future beyond the World Cup? John Horne and Wolfram Manzenreiter's "Japan, Korea and the 2002 World Cup", which appeared just before last year's finals, provides answers to these and other questions. Thirteen chapters written mainly by academics offer an insightful and detailed analysis of the greater implications of the four-yearly tournament. The volume is organised thematically in four parts. The first part focuses on "the competition behind the competition" and looks at the power struggles surrounding the organisation of the tournament. The four chapters of the second section should appeal most to readers who are interested in the historical development of football and its globalisation process in the host nations. The third part deals with influences of the World Cup on national political economy and civil society, such as its role in the growth of voluntary groups as a new social movement in Japan. The final section looks at the tournament as a mega-event which transforms urban spaces and as a media event with global sociological and commercial implications. One theme the book fails to address thoroughly, however, is fan culture. Shimizu Satoshi's chapter on the Urawa Reds fans provides a glimpse into the different values, meanings and identities attached to football fandom in Japan, but only briefly refers to national fan culture surrounding the national team. The behaviour and appearance of both Japanese and Korean supporters was, from a comparative point of view, one of the most striking features of the past World Cup and deserves further attention. "Japan, Korea and the 2002 World Cup" is in the first place a scholarly publication on sports studies. It is certainly no light poolside reading, but for those willing to make the effort it does provide a deeper understanding into the larger social, economic, political and cultural ramifications of "the people's game" in the two host nations.

Bart Gaens

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Sexy Football

Sexy Football

by Peter Gilmour

Paperback - 275 pages (1999)
Naked; ISBN: 0953605108

Not only do we have to thank Ruud Gullit for coining such a marvelous phrase, but for triggering the thought inside Peter Gilmour's head to write this wonderful book. Sexy Football epitomizes everything a good novel of this genre should be, as too often football novels have failed to deliver. This however is undoubtedly the best since Fever Pitch. From a brilliant first chapter through to the last it is funny, witty, intelligent, and takes you to many unexpected places that will make you laugh, cry and gasp in disbelief. A story that is set around football and the role it plays in the protagonist's life, we also follow him through his sexual rites of passage. Reading with the increased intrigue of a voyeur who thinks they have just witnessed a murder across the street, we see him draw parallels between the two and also how they manage to intertwine themselves to affect his life.
Sexy Football is a brilliant read. A must in fact! Regardless of whether you are a fan of the world's greatest game or not, you will love it.

Paul Harvey

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500 dagen in Zuid-Korea:Buy this book from boekenwereld.com

500 dagen in Zuid-Korea

Jan Roelfs

Kosmos Z&K ISBN: 9021539284
Verkrijgbaar in de boekhandel en op www.boekenwereld.com

In december 2000 wordt voetbal- en tenniscommentator Jan Roelfs door Guus Hiddink gevraagd voor de functie van teammanager van de Zuid-Koreaanse nationale ploeg, die zich gaat voorbereiden op het wereldkampioenschap voetbal in eigen land en Japan in 2002. Jan Roelfs houdt zich in die rol bezig met allerlei praktische zaken en hij organiseert de contacten met de Koreaanse en internationale media. Hij ervaart aan den lijve wat het betekent om direct betrokken te zijn bij de trainersstaf van een van de WK-deelnemers. De onpartijdige tv-verslaggever voelt nu zelf de spanning voor een wedstrijd. Jan Roelfs vertelt in zijn boek over zijn persoonlijke ervaringen en over de werkwijze van headcoach Guus Hiddink tijdens de 500 dagen die voorafgaan aan het WK en het WK zelf. Hij beschrijft hoe alles waar Hiddink mee bezig is slechts zijn doel dient: de tweede ronde halen op het WK. "Mr. Hiddink", buiten zijn werk een levensgenieter, is een coach die alle touwtjes in handen heeft. Hij leidt de groep met strakke hand, maar is ook open en humoristisch. Het begrip "open vizier" ligt hem in de mond bestorven. Typerend voor het belang van openheid is het doorbreken van het senioriteitsprincipe: het door de cultuur bepaalde ontzag dat jongeren hebben voor ouderen. Het loslaten van deze strakke sociale omgangsvorm wordt door de Koreaanse spelers als een kultuurschok ervaren maar evenzeer als een bevrijding: de jongere spelers krijgen de kans zich te ontwikkelen en manifesteren. Hiddink weet ook de rol van de multinationals, die via een commissie van wijze mannen tot dan toe de nationale voetbalselectie hadden bepaald, te elimineren. Hij laat zelfs de legertop merken wie de baas is als het over voetbal gaat. Deze houding vormt een rode draad in de aanpak van Hiddink: hij schuwt confrontaties niet. Integendeel, hij gebruikt ze om zijn positie te versterken. Iedere zwakke plek in de organisatie wordt weggewerkt. Zo worden er ook wijzigingen doorgevoerd in de medische staf. Wanneer de resultaten voor en tijdens het WK beter worden, neemt de populariteit en het aanzien van Hiddink ongekende vormen aan. Het hoogtepunt van de 500 dagen in Zuid-Korea is ongetwijfeld de explosie van vreugde na de strafschop waarmee Zuid-Korea zich plaatst voor de halve finale. Het moment ook voor Jan Roelfs die als rechterhand van Hiddink plotseling het voorrecht heeft te delen in dit succes. 500 dagen in Zuid-Korea geeft de lezer geen inzicht in taktische of technische voetbalzaken. Wel wordt duidelijk dat de wijze waarop Guus Hiddink zijn rol als coach vorm geeft van wezenlijk belang is geweest voor de prestaties van de voetbaldwerg Zuid-Korea. Een interessant boek voor voetballiefhebbers en zeker voor trainers.

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