Ah Christmas, my favourite time of the year, dark nights, heating on, lights twinkling in the window, carols from Kings College, tons of chocolate, sacks full of nuts (Oooer Missus!) and of course the presents!
Every Christmas present pile since I can remember has contained at least a couple of books. The first thing I do with a new book is smell it, oh yes, the freshness of unsullied paper and ink! I seemed to get a new edition of The Guinness Book of Records every year from age ten to sixteen and I would ahem “entertain” my captive family audience by reading out from it aloud. “Did you know the tallest man who ever lived was Robert Wadlow who was nearly 9ft tall?” Thankfully for my family I shut up when the eagerly awaited Christmas edition of Disney Time started.
I could go on and mention the comic annuals I received but instead I will concentrate on some of my favourite football books. In no particular order they are…
The Far Corner by Harry Pearson
I always admired Harry’s writing in the When Saturday Comes magazine. He’s very knowledgeable about football and witty with it. In this book he travels around the North East watching games from the 93/94 season and meets some very quirky characters along the way, from the Premier League to Non-League it’s a joyous read.
The Glory Game by Hunter Davies
This was the first book I’d read that actually took you behind the scenes at a football club. Think I got it from Marsh Green library in the early seventies; anyway I managed to buy a copy a couple of years later. Fascinating account of the 1971/72 season at Tottenham Hotspur. One of the best books on football.
The Football Grounds of Britain by Simon Inglis
A book about football grounds? Are you mad or summat? Words spoken by every wife and girlfriend when you mentioned that you wanted it for Christmas, but you know what? it’s brilliant! Every football fan should have this book, think of the fun you can have just dropping in the conversation “Did you know the first cantilever stand ever built on a football ground was at Scunthorpe United’s former home the Old Show Ground in 1958?” That should break the ice at any party. Not that I get invited to parties funnily enough…
Goalkeepers are Different by Brian Glanville
My introduction into fictional football was way back in 1971 when Goal magazine serialised this short novel. I was hooked and it remains the best fictional account of football that I have read up to now. Mind you it doesn’t have much competition with most fictional novels on the sport being terrible. Ah but football comic strips were a different story…
The Football Man by Arthur Hopcraft
Written in 1968 this book is a fascinating look into a football world long since gone, certainly in the top division. Hopcraft’s writing is poetic in its imagery and it’s a book of its time which will be deemed old fashioned by some but if you like your retro football it’s well worth a read.
Topical Times Annual
This was a Christmas staple in our house (along with a games compendium but we won’t go into that now) I didn’t know what the Topical Times was and I certainly never saw it in the section that included adult mags (Stop tittering at the back) like Reveille or Tit-Bits (I won’t tell you again. These were informative magazines full of good well written articles, honest!) It certainly was a fine football annual though…
The Best of Charles Buchan’s Football Monthly
Charles Buchan’s Football Monthly was up there with Goal magazine in my eyes. Good intelligent writing covering all aspects of the game not just the top division. Shoot magazine was good but dumbed down as the years went by and the football magazines for kids today are nothing but posters of Premiership millionaires. Sadly my collection of magazines went to whatever was the equivalent of the “Gant” in the mid-eighties after my Mam got sick of the sight of em’ Thankfully some genius came up with the idea of a “Best of” book a couple of years back. Very good it is too.
Got Not Got by Derek Hammond and Gary Silke
Thankfully retro football is now in vogue again and this book along with others in the series is a godsend to the thousands of football fans like my good self who fondly remember the late sixties and the seventies. Packed full of brilliant photographs and memorabilia it really is eye candy retro. Well written and a must buy.
Rest in Pieces: South Liverpool Football Club 1894-1994 by Hyder Jawad
Received this as a gift last Christmas after several not so subtle hints to the wife. A massive, and I mean MASSIVE book about the non-league club and its varied and rich history. If you had told me I would buy a book on this club when I first visited Holly Park in the early seventies I’d have had you locked up. It remains the only club house in football that drew a deathly hush when I and my Dad walked in. I’d only seen that happen in cowboy films and seeing as my Dad didn’t have a Colt 45 (the gun not the beer) we supped up and went back out in record time. Mind you we came to no harm and worse stuff happened at Netherfield (the shoemaking gits, no I won’t let it lie) Hyder is a friend of mine and a football fanatic, he has more football memorabilia than anyone I’ve ever known and his knowledge of the game is second to none. Now available in paperback I just wish Hyder would do something similar for Wigan Athletic. Recommended
I’ll review some other of my favourite football books in the new year… probably
I could go on all day, as you well know but my mince pie is calling and I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a brilliant New Year!
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