Required reading for those in love with the game
Need something to read on your next holiday? Of course, you don’t – there’s a recession on, and only Coleen Rooney can afford to lay around on a beach all day. Regardless, here’s our five favourite books written about the beautiful game…
by Nick Hornby
In his autobiographical account of attending Arsenal matches between 1968 and 1992, Nick Hornby eloquently evoked the irrational thoughts, hopes and fears of being a football supporter. The faithful account of countless hours spent at Highbury is augmented with details about Hornby’s personal life – the breakup of his family, his love life and his well-documented passion for music. We haven’t seen the British film version, but the American film, in which the protagonist loves the Boston Red Sox, is utter poo.
My Father and Other Working Class Football Heroes
by Gary Imlach
Journalist and broadcaster Gary Imlach immortalised the memory of his father Stewart in his superb 2005 biography. Imlach snr was a left winger for various sides in the fifties and sixties before moving in to coaching, and the book captures his career highlights from the perspective of his adoring football-mad son. If only every member of our Mercenary XI were forced to read about the humble working conditions and £20-a-week wages…
You’ll Win Nothing with Kids: Fathers, Sons and Football
by Jim White
A book about a dad who is forced to get involved with his son’s U-14 football team sounds alarmingly similar to the plot of ropey Will Ferrell film Kicking & Screaming, but trust us, this one is a brilliant read. While fretting about relegation, White deals with the banal drama of buying a new club kettle, and the vitriolic abuse that flows from the mouths of proud parents. The title is an Alan Hanson quote: “You’ll win nothing with kids,” said the Scotsman of the young Manchester Utd side that eventually went on to win the title.
The Damned United
by David Peace
This 2006 novel chronicles Brian Clough’s disastrous 44-day stint at Leeds Utd in 1974. The club were the league champions at the time, and Old Big ‘Ead managed just six wins. Peace describes it as “a fiction based on a fact,” and it has caused controversy, undoubtedly because Clough comes across as a bit of a drunk mentalist. The first person stream of consciousness style is a little difficult to get into, so if you don’t fancy the challenge wait for the film version which will be released in March.
Only a Game?: The Diary of a Professional Footballer
by Eamon Dunphy
Irish midfielder Dunphy spent most of his career at Millwall in the sixties and seventies, but is perhaps best known as the journalist and ranting radio presenter who is outspoken on just about every aspect of the game (Liam Brady is a “bitter little man”, Cristiano Ronaldo is a “poof ball” and Luis Garcia “belongs in a dustbin”). He kept a diary detailing success and disillusion during the 1973/74 at Millwall, and the subsequent memoir is a great reminder of a time when diving was done in swimming pools, and only ladies wore gloves. It was so successful that U2 asked Dunphy to write their official band biography.
Got any more suggestions for great football literature? Don’t keep it to yourself – share the love below…