Books on Football

Discussion in 'Soccer History' started by frasermc, Jan 21, 2015.

  1. frasermc

    frasermc Take your flunky and dangle

    Jul 28, 2006
    Newcastle-Upon-Tyne
    Club:
    Celtic FC
    Country:
    Scotland
    I realise there is a 'soccer books' category in the actual books forum but thought it might be worth having a thread here (maybe there was an old one I can't locate) as well.

    I'm currently reading We are the Damned United. Not to be confused with the movie as this is based completely on factual recollections of the time of Brian Clough in charge at Leeds Utd (and just before) whereas I believe the movie took 'artistic license' at certain points apparently.

    Anyway, only just read the first 60 or so pages but it already has a classic Brian Clough quote. When asked about his move to Leeds the Liverpool job was also available at the very same time. Clough apparently laments it was just his luck to get the wrong job.

    If he had been made manager of Liverpool Clough said, "I would have been as close to that club as the paint is on the wall."

    Brilliant stuff. Just the sort of thing I would expect from Brian Clough.

    Oh, enjoying the book so far.
     
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  2. comme

    comme Moderator
    Staff Member

    Feb 21, 2003
    Some ones I've particularly enjoyed recently:

    Pep Confidential - Marti Perarnau: A Spanish journalist is offered unrestricted access to Pep Guardiola during his first 12 months at Bayern. Offers a great insight into his thinking, his methods and the goings on at a club during a remarkable year. Tactically fascinating and immersive. I'd actually recommend this to people that didn't like football as well.

    The Nowhere Men - Mike Calvin: An in depth study of the world of scouts, covering those who often work in the background. Maybe the best book I have read on the game. Terrific characterisation from Calvin (a writer for the Sunday Independent) in terms of getting up close and personal with some unsung heroes. Looks quite a bit at those who don't actually get paid do it purely for expenses (the 40p a mile brigade). Also gives you a great feel for quite how precarious an industry it is. I'd also recommend his previous book, "Family", which covers a season with Millwall.
     
  3. philly villain

    Jun 20, 2008
    Club:
    TSV 1860 München
    Country:
    Germany
    Inverting The Pyramid: A History of Soccer Tactics by Jonathan Wilson is a fascinating read as traces the evolution of tactics and formations from the 1880's up to present day. Very good at introducing you to the pioneers of the game as well as tracing paralell deveopments in the game in different countries and continents. Going on my third read through and thoroughly enjoying it.

    http://www.amazon.com/Inverting-The-Pyramid-History-Tactics/dp/1568587384
     
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  4. Excape Goat

    Excape Goat Member+

    Mar 18, 1999
    Hong Kong
    Club:
    Real Madrid
  5. PuckVanHeel

    PuckVanHeel Member+

    Oct 4, 2011
    Club:
    Feyenoord
    If one likes good texts and fantastic pictures with descriptions then "the age of innocence" is a great book. One can wonder whether the title was aptly chosen but if you can acquire it for a good price it is a nice book. The pictures tell the story and the descriptions are generally not superfluous. Sadly, there is not such one for other decades as far as I know (except for ones like the 1990 and 2004 versions for Pelé).

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/fo...ok-looking-1970s-footballs-Age-Innocence.html
    http://www.squawka.com/news/book-review-the-age-of-innocence-football-in-the-1970s/145816
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/thin...-1970s-really-footballs-age-of-innocence.html
    http://www.theguardian.com/football...enties-footballs-golden-age-of-innocence-book

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    Of the English books I also liked Duarte his book about famous Brazil matches, just because he is a native Brazilian, even though it is riddled with factual errors (scorers and cards not right).
     
  6. comme

    comme Moderator
    Staff Member

    Feb 21, 2003
    Yes, the age of innocence book is excellent. I got that for Christmas and it is packed full of evocative pictures.

    Also agree on Duarte's book. I enjoyed it myself and he is a nice guy from what I can see. It does have a few errors in there but there is something about it which set it apart from many of the others released to tie in with the World Cup.
     
  7. PuckVanHeel

    PuckVanHeel Member+

    Oct 4, 2011
    Club:
    Feyenoord
    Did you read almost all of them? I often find it hard to chose which one to pick. Book reviews are rarely conclusive. For ex. that Goldblatt one or Campomar one (needed to search for the latter name). I picked Duarte because the others looked, as far as I was able to see, more similar to Bellos his book (next to a mid-90s book written by a lifelong Dutch correspondent back then).
     
  8. comme

    comme Moderator
    Staff Member

    Feb 21, 2003
    Not really because I was pretty jaded having finished my own book. I'd overdosed on the World Cup for the previous year.

    Goldblatt's book I have flicked through in the shops and it isn't really a book about football. It's more a book about Brazilian politics/society with football thrown in there a bit.

    I also looked though the Campomar one and that did look good but haven't got round to reading yet.

    The ones I did read were Scotland 74 (decent), Danish Dynamite (excellent, particularly if you have nostalgia for that team), Duarte, and then also I read the new chapters in Glanville (not great), Terry Crouch/Corbett (okay), Freddi (typically thorough) and a new book on the World Cup by Nick Holt which was rubbish.

    I had a flick through the one on penalties by Ben Lyttleton which looked promising but perhaps overly long and would like to read 31-0 by James Montague but haven't got round to it yet.
     
  9. Gregoriak

    Gregoriak BigSoccer Supporter

    Feb 27, 2002
    Bolzplatz
    Weren't you a toddler back then? :whistling:;)
     
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  10. comme

    comme Moderator
    Staff Member

    Feb 21, 2003
    Well exactly. I didn't enjoy it quite as much as I thought I would have done if I remembered that team. Sadly they cover off the Euro 92 team in a few pages.

    I would imagine for someone who saw them at Euro 84 and WC 1986 it would be even better.
     
  11. PDG1978

    PDG1978 Member+

    Mar 8, 2009
    Club:
    Nottingham Forest FC
    I can't remember how much of them I saw at the time but I remember being aware of Laudrup and also Elkjaer, as well as of course their distinctive kits! Josimar's goals for Brazil were somehow what I was most aware of at the time and/or recalled the most vividly even before starting to look back at the games on Youtube etc.

    I watched the 1986 World Cup video, narrated by Michael Caine I think, though (Hero, IIRC) as a kid and/or young adult and Laudrup and Elkjaer feature a bit in that.
     
  12. PDG1978

    PDG1978 Member+

    Mar 8, 2009
    Club:
    Nottingham Forest FC
    Hard to compare Maradona's goals with Josimar's though since Maradona's (vs England and also Belgium) get replayed so often that they are going to be fresh in the memory anyway. I think that game was sufficiently late for me not to have watched live at the time though (at least not in full), and I remember waking up to the furore and the fact Lineker had got a goal back but England were out.
     
  13. PuckVanHeel

    PuckVanHeel Member+

    Oct 4, 2011
    Club:
    Feyenoord
    Do you throw away your old copies?

    Also by a distance the worst chapter in the age of innocence book. Revisionist, inaccurate, unsourced (.e.g. no quotes or whatever), insidious, malign. With his tongue deep inside vested interests.
     
  14. comme

    comme Moderator
    Staff Member

    Feb 21, 2003
     
  15. PuckVanHeel

    PuckVanHeel Member+

    Oct 4, 2011
    Club:
    Feyenoord
    I read now the rest of it and it might be an interesting book for you because you like Laudrup a lot. I saw there are also very positive testimonies about Cruijff, Neeskens etc. ("clearest influence", "debt owed", "broadening and blowing their minds in equal measure") noticing/elaborating the primary influence on Arnesen, Lerby, Olsen, Molby, Laudrup. Though it does note the evolving physical demands and arrival of new methods on the market (it also gives credit to Tomislav Ivic, who was peculiarly criticized a lot in Belgium and Holland alike for his defensive counter-attacking play - this will make guys like Jonathan Wilson happy I guess?). On the other hand, they also make the point that Neeskens and co had always a certain aloofness around them while the Danes had their appeal from "self-deprecation and everyman normality", as the charm of the team. But yeah, if you like Laudrup a lot then it is indeed a good book (TBF many pundits in Holland thought about Laudrup as the most valuable midfielder/forward of the 1986WC after the group stage).


    English books I also liked:

    The early 60s books about Real Madrid and Brazil (Stratton & Smith). That's great insight.

    Yallop his 'how they stole the game' (1998). The first and in many ways still the best of its kind. The links with what happens on the field itself are the best parts. The worst part is his almost exclusive focus on South America (read Jennings and Smits' book about sport shoes companies for a more complete and entirely accurate picture - Thomas Kistner is maybe the very best of all but not translated into English). The things he deleted (but which are included in the German, Dutch and other versions) became hard-proven later. Yallop also wrote many other accomplished books about topics outside football. The book is still regularly referenced.

    From Glanville I liked his 1968 Soccer Anthology and 1992 Champions of Europe the best. I didn't check all books to be fair (the literary things etc.).

    McIlvanney his World Cup '70 book. World Cup '66 is also good but a bit less so.

    David Miller (of 'The Times') his Sportswriter's Eye compilation from 1989. There's also one from 1997 that includes non-football pieces. More focused on a specific country, I actually also liked a number of chapters in the 'Forza Italia' book by long-serving correspondent Paddy Agnew.

    Ian Morrison 'World Cup a Complete Record'. It runs through 1990 but the lay-out and the detail makes it IMHO the best. Cris Freddi is also very good, but this one is a bit more complete to my feeling. There's no unsourced nonsense it it.
    From the World Cup previews I positively remember the Howe&Revie Mundial 82 book, with various diagrams and such.

    The 'Puskas on Puskas' book. I'm not one of those massive Puskas fans, but all the reflections and also information about the context (e.g. Hungary training on a 'Wembley size' field for a couple of weeks), the early days, reasons for retirement, makes it great.

    Last but not least, the 'World Soccer from A to Z' book by Barrett (1973) is definitely great. It was a primary source of reference for later English encyclopedias to come. Perhaps it undersells some of the smaller countries and also some of the bigger clubs, but the information is amazing and it is great to see how things were seen at that time rather than 40 years later. Maybe I'd place this book at the very top I think.
     
  16. PuckVanHeel

    PuckVanHeel Member+

    Oct 4, 2011
    Club:
    Feyenoord
    Some honourable mentions I thought about afterwards:

    Jenkins - The Beautiful Team. About the 1970 Brazil World Cup team.
    Kuper - Football against the Enemy
    Martin Tyler - Story of Football (1986) : very nice and clean overview. Very, very nice.
    Wangerin - The Fussball book
    Wolstenholme - The Pro's (1968) : yes, the other football commentator

    Anyway, I'll leave it at that.
     
  17. PDG1978

    PDG1978 Member+

    Mar 8, 2009
    Club:
    Nottingham Forest FC
    Thanks Puck - I can say your previous recommendation of 'The Perfect 10' by Richard Williams was a good one.

    I guess people can pick out their own choices of interest from your list if they fancy buying some books. I'm tempted by the Danish Dynamite one indeed and perhaps Forza Italia and Martin Tyler's book at first glance.
     
  18. PDG1978

    PDG1978 Member+

    Mar 8, 2009
    Club:
    Nottingham Forest FC
    Oh, I notice World Soccer A-Z gets the biggest recommendation now so probably that one too. Puskas on Puskas would surely be interesting although perhaps excerpts from it have been widely quoted etc (or the jist of some of the comments)?
     
  19. PuckVanHeel

    PuckVanHeel Member+

    Oct 4, 2011
    Club:
    Feyenoord
    Thanks PDG1978. Yes, maybe you are right about the Puskas on Puskas book. Overall it has a quality though that almost all except one doesn't have I think (didn't see all ofc but say the Pelé/Maradona one doesn't have it). To elaborate a bit further for you what is likable about the Tyler (&Soar) book, it is that it includes scans of newspapers and documents, next to what I said above.
    On that note, the "Pelé Albums" are perhaps the very best of all biographies of players (has also many original newspaper clippings and photos) but it is very expensive. Think about 100 pounds. I only saw it in a library. Saw once another GOAT book as well, similar to the well-known Muhammed Ali book, but the price-tag of 3000 euro was ridiculous.
    Yes, I think you'd like the Danish Dynamite book. Checked it again in the meantime and after stating the influence ("significant influence on the Danish players both in Belgium and earlier at Ajax") it notes in specific Ivic transforming Morten Olsen into a sweeper so in that sense it matches with the general image of the manager :oops: I'll PM you an other article that I saw about Laudrup.
     
  20. comme

    comme Moderator
    Staff Member

    Feb 21, 2003
    If you're looking for a book on Italian football and haven't read it, I'd suggest John Foot's Calcio ahead of Forza Italia. I preferred it at least.
     
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  21. PuckVanHeel

    PuckVanHeel Member+

    Oct 4, 2011
    Club:
    Feyenoord
    Yes that is a good book and more complete. Forza Italia is more thematic, idiosyncratic at times and the quality of the chapters vary a lot. About three/four are fantastic, three are decent and two are pure unstructured chaos and rubbish (shifting back and forth in time etc.). Something like that. There's more detail (incl. some cited numbers like wage bills) on AC Milan, Napoli, Eriksson his Lazio, Zidane/Del Piero their Juventus, Mussolini his 'invention' (his quote) of the Serie A as in the John Foot book.
     
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  22. comme

    comme Moderator
    Staff Member

    Feb 21, 2003
    Yes, agree entirely with this.
     
  23. PuckVanHeel

    PuckVanHeel Member+

    Oct 4, 2011
    Club:
    Feyenoord
    Hopefully you can read it but this are examples

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    Maybe @comme knows books that also blend in figures and article excerpts? Or are otherwise similar in approach or style?
     
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  24. comme

    comme Moderator
    Staff Member

    Feb 21, 2003
    Well the one that jumps out for me is "Back Page Football" by Stephen Kelly. It traces the history of British football with reference to the newspaper stories of the day and has a picture or extract from a major newspaper for every year.
     
  25. nicklaino

    nicklaino Member+

    Feb 14, 2012
    Brooklyn, NY
    Club:
    Manchester United FC
    My favorite book on our game was written by Beckenbauer. He wrote it in the 1970s the English version came out in 79 I think.

    The name of the book was Soccer Power. In it he explains how his German national team that he played on trained. He talk about his team mates and exactly how they trained. Also how opponents like Brazil played on defense.

    Most teams played man. But man is really a mix of man and a zone further from the ball.

    Some of the book is out dated. But if you coached an adult team and used some of the training methods you would still win even today. Remember old becomes new again when no one seen it for a long time.

    It is a great book on training players.

    The best thing about it you can get the English version on Amazon for around 10 dollars.
     
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