Author Topic: Really good books about football (soccer)  (Read 966 times)

Blinder Data

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Really good books about football (soccer)
« on: January 18, 2019, 04:34:31 PM »
I am currently enjoying Sid Lowe's Fear and Loathing in La Liga: Barcelona vs Real Madrid. So far it is a really good book about football. It's a very readable account of the two clubs, telling the history of their rivalry through the key players, managers and presidents who directed the successes/failures of the clubs and added to the rivalry. Loved the sections on the Civil War, but that historical period has always been interesting to me.

I have Simon Kuper's Football Against the Enemy on my shelf which I've heard very good things about.

Any other reccos?

Re: Really good books about football (soccer)
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2019, 10:44:55 PM »
I used to read football books and really enjoyed David Conn's The Football Business which talked about the start of the Premiership and what nasty greedy soulless cunts the majority of it's chairmen are. It's probably a bit out-dated now as it came out about 20 years ago.

Some journey man (Gary something?) wrote a good book about his life in the lower leagues and that was good, as are both volumes of Jimmy Greaves' autobiographies. I think the first one starts with him throwing up in the toilets before going on to Russell Harty's chatshow and ends with some homophobic abuse of Julian Clarey.

Re: Really good books about football (soccer)
« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2019, 11:52:23 PM »
Some journey man (Gary something?) wrote a good book about his life in the lower leagues and that was good

That'll be Gary Nelson's Left Foot Forward: A Year In The Life Of A Journeyman Footballer, and its follow-up, Left Foot In The Grave.

You could also try (and apologies for the Amazon links but it's easier to read the blurbs there):

Soccernomics by Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski
The Greatest Footballer You Never Saw: The Robin Friday Story by Oasis's Guiggsy and Paolo Hewitt
Dynamo by Andy Dougan
My Father And Other Working Class Heros by Gary Imlach

Also - two Arsenal-centric books that non-supporters might appreciate:
Rebels For The Cause by Jon Spurling
Stuck In A Moment: The Ballad Of Paul Vaessen by Stewart Taylor

Oh, and some books that aren't specifically football-based but are fascinating are the Played In Britain series. I have the Played In London book but the others in the series are bound to be as interesting. They also published Engineering Archie which is an amazing book. Sample pages here:

http://www.playedinbritain.co.uk/pdf/engineering-archie-46-47.pdf
http://www.playedinbritain.co.uk/pdf/engineering-archie-140-141.pdf

sprocket

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Re: Really good books about football (soccer)
« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2019, 02:32:41 PM »
Any of the recommendations above that I've read were excellent, I'll throw in a few more.

Michael Calvin has a series of books examining the state of the English game, I've read The Nowhere Men, No Hunger In Paradise, and Living On The Volcano and enjoyed them all.

For biographies, A Life Too Short: The Tragedy of Robert Enke by Ronald Reng and Back from the Brink by Paul McGrath and Vincent Hogan are both excellent if quite bleak. Full Time: The Secret Life Of Tony Cascarino by Cascarino and Paul Kimmage was (slightly) lighter as far as I can remember, I'm not sure how much time is devoted to his glory days at Parkhead though.

The Damned United by David Peace (may depend on how well you get on with his writing style).

Once In A Lifetime  by Gavin Newsham (also a really good documentary of the same name).

The Miracle Of Castel Di Sangro by Joe McGinniss.

Tor! by Uli Hesse does a similar job to Lowe on the history of German football, Jimmy Burns' Barca covers much of the same ground.

For club-specific stuff Simon Hughes' Liverpool books are good enough to overlook the trauma of remembering Nicky Tanner.

Re: Really good books about football (soccer)
« Reply #4 on: January 19, 2019, 04:56:16 PM »
The Mixer by Michael Cox is excellent look at how tactics evolved through the Premier League era. Well worth a read.

Re: Really good books about football (soccer)
« Reply #5 on: January 19, 2019, 05:33:58 PM »
Remember when football hooligan books were a thing?

Re: Really good books about football (soccer)
« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2019, 07:22:53 PM »
Inverting the Pyramid Jonathan Wilson a history of tactics.

Beastly Fury Richard Saunders History of early days of football. As I remember it says that most histories place too much emphasis on ex public school boys and not enough on the working class.

Re: Really good books about football (soccer)
« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2019, 07:35:53 PM »
I've always thought "A Strange Kind of Glory", a biography of Matt Busby by Eammon Dunphy, is an excellent read for anyone interested in the history of English football.

Re: Really good books about football (soccer)
« Reply #8 on: January 19, 2019, 09:41:19 PM »
Brilliant Orange about the history of Dutch football

Re: Really good books about football (soccer)
« Reply #9 on: January 20, 2019, 03:28:55 AM »
Remember when football hooligan books were a thing?

Yes I do.  In 1997 I was working in a branch of Books Etc when an agent brought along two of her clients, Dougie and Eddy Brimson, to sign copies of their recent publication.  "This is Doug and Eddy," she said, "they've written a book."  I was impressed.  From the look of them I'd have been impressed if she'd told me they'd read a book.

Mark Steels Stockbroker

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Re: Really good books about football (soccer)
« Reply #10 on: January 20, 2019, 11:34:55 AM »
Mark Hodkinson - Believe In The Sign. Also a perfect evocation of the shit 70s.

Re: Really good books about football (soccer)
« Reply #11 on: January 21, 2019, 10:41:51 AM »
I remember enjoying Behind The Curtain: Travels in Eastern European Football by Jonathan Wilson but it's probably massively out of date now.

Re: Really good books about football (soccer)
« Reply #12 on: January 22, 2019, 07:08:36 PM »
I remember enjoying Behind The Curtain: Travels in Eastern European Football by Jonathan Wilson but it's probably massively out of date now.

I read it not so long ago and it’s great.

Tim Vickery correctly suggests staring with David Goldblatt’s The Ball Is Round. It really worth the effort.

I quite liked Calcio about history of Italian football.

Pirlo’s biography is good. Zlatan’s is a great read. Does a really good job at getting you to empathise with a 6ft+ black belt Tae Kwon Do multi-millionaire footballing immigrant Swedish genius (and I’m none of those things).

Re: Really good books about football (soccer)
« Reply #13 on: February 04, 2019, 01:19:37 PM »
I recommend Pete Davies' "All Played Out/One Night In Turin" so often that I should be on commission, a superb read.

Michael Gibbons' "When Football Came Home - England, the English and Euro 96" is also good, looks at the culture surrounding the time too as well as the tournament.

Tim Parks "A Season With Verona" is great too, the kind of thing I wish there were more of. It's part travelogue part social study part Serie A review.

Bennett Brauer

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Re: Really good books about football (soccer)
« Reply #15 on: February 05, 2019, 12:58:02 AM »
Inverting the Pyramid Jonathan Wilson a history of tactics.

Beastly Fury Richard Saunders History of early days of football. As I remember it says that most histories place too much emphasis on ex public school boys and not enough on the working class.

Both excellent, good call.

Re: Really good books about football (soccer)
« Reply #16 on: February 05, 2019, 12:59:16 AM »
I've always thought "A Strange Kind of Glory", a biography of Matt Busby by Eammon Dunphy, is an excellent read for anyone interested in the history of English football.

Dunphy’s Only A Game is really good too.

Jockice

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Re: Really good books about football (soccer)
« Reply #17 on: February 05, 2019, 05:37:48 AM »
If we're talking novels, The Damned United is excellent (even though I've never been able to finish another David Peace book) and I have very fond memories of reading The Blinder by Barry Hines when I should have been studying for my O-levels.

sprocket

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Re: Really good books about football (soccer)
« Reply #18 on: February 06, 2019, 12:25:36 AM »
Michael Gibbons' "When Football Came Home - England, the English and Euro 96" is also good, looks at the culture surrounding the time too as well as the tournament.

Reminds me that I should have mentioned Danish Dynamite which he co-wrote with Rob Smyth and Lars Eriksen.

The Blizzard is also worth checking out for long-form pieces, I think non-subscribers can access three per month.

Rolf Lundgren

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Re: Really good books about football (soccer)
« Reply #19 on: February 06, 2019, 06:20:32 PM »
'Garrincha: The Triumph and Tragedy of Brazil's Forgotten Footballing Hero' by Ruy Castro is probably the best football biography I've ever read. Can't recommend it enough.

'A Life Too Short: The Tragedy of Robert Enke' by Ronald Reng. Very sad as you might expect but a fascinating and sympathetic insight into depression. A book for anyone who wonders why rich, successful people would be depressed.

'The Miracle of Castel Di Sangro' by Joe McGinniss as mentioned above. Loud American blowhard who knows virtually nothing about football, apart from an appreciation of Roberto Baggio, immerses himself into a newly promoted Serie B team by moving into the tiny village where they play. McGuinness' bluster and brute honesty eventually become endearing and there's an incredible ending.

'Provided You Don't Kiss Me' by Duncan Hamilton. I'm a Clough obsessive and love his autobiographies too but this book written by a local journalist in Nottingham gives you the best sense of the man with a fair and objective eye.

'O Louis' by Hugo Borst. Ostensibly a biography of Louis Van Gaal but in parts an autobiography of Hugo Borst and his fractious relationship with Van Gaal. Not to everyone's tastes but the style of writing is fantastic.

MiddleRabbit

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Re: Really good books about football (soccer)
« Reply #20 on: February 07, 2019, 09:27:40 AM »
The Numbers Game - David Sally.  Sounds dry, but isn't.  A statistical analysis of loads of things that throws much received wisdom into doubt.  Most interesting book I've read about football, not against much stiff opposition admittedly.

Re: Really good books about football (soccer)
« Reply #21 on: February 07, 2019, 11:58:20 AM »

Small Man Big Horse

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Re: Really good books about football (soccer)
« Reply #22 on: February 07, 2019, 12:07:18 PM »
Remember when football hooligan books were a thing?

I read The Football Factory when it first came out and remember thinking it was pretty interesting, but I was a young and innocent man back then and I've no idea how I'd react to it now.

Re: Really good books about football (soccer)
« Reply #23 on: February 07, 2019, 01:40:07 PM »
I read The Football Factory when it first came out and remember thinking it was pretty interesting, but I was a young and innocent man back then and I've no idea how I'd react to it now.

All 3 books in that trilogy are interesting though I must admit revisiting them years later and skimming through, it's an abrasive read.

I've read a lot of the hooligan stuff, majority awful but recently finished Running With The Firm, it's the story that inspired the film ID, and that was very good

Re: Really good books about football (soccer)
« Reply #24 on: February 07, 2019, 02:28:56 PM »
One I've just been reminded of: Pegasus: The Famous Oxford and Cambridge Soccer Side of the Nineteen Fifties.

Recommended by (of all people) Bob Mills on the radio a few years ago, it documents the decline and eventual loss 'proper' amateur football after WW2.

Re: Really good books about football (soccer)
« Reply #25 on: February 19, 2019, 01:31:16 PM »

Re: Really good books about football (soccer)
« Reply #26 on: February 20, 2019, 08:37:25 AM »
One of the greats: https://www.abebooks.co.uk/servlet/BookDetailsPL?bi=22862740192

If we're going down that road, this is an absolute steal:

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Football-Handbook-The-Glory-Years/132248608629

Under £2.50 for over 500 pages of late seventies football nostalgia and Wikipedia-style info on clubs and players. Bargain.