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Saturday, 26 November 2011

Get your Christmas football books here

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With Christmas around the corner, attention will be turning the old chore of shopping for the festive period. The dreaded question is about to raise its ugly head. What do I get for the football fan in my life?

As usual the great and the good of the football world are telling their story. There are also some publications which have a real dose of nostalgia. Here is a quick guide to what’s around.

Around The Grounds by Chris Nelson - £19.99 (Waterstones)

An ideal present for the anoraks amongst us. Nelson’s book is a guide to the grounds of the 92 Football League clubs. All the usual stuff such as directions, the location of the nearest train station and club histories are included. In a novel twist the author asks fans to select their most memorable games at each stadium.

A lot of the book simply rehashes old material, but the advent of new stadia makes it a useful addition to any collection. I wonder if the Sports Direct Arena will get a mention?

Get, Not Got, The A-Z of lost Football Culture. Treasures and Pleasures by Derek Hammond - £15. 55 (Waterstones)

One for the old fogies (like myself). The generation that yearns for muddy pitches, long sideburns and The Big Match will fully appreciate Hammond's efforts. The book contains images of various retro football merchandise. I expect we’ll see Derby County programmes from 1978 or bobble hats worn at Elland Road. But before you think it’s a clichéd Seventies wonderland, the author has dug out images of Peter Shilton and Phil Parkes advertising various aftershaves. There is also proof that the nation’s youth was able to entertain themselves before FIFA and PRO Evolution. Many happy hours were wiled away honing our skills at Subbeto or Kenny Dalglish’s football game. The rest of the time was spent pinning posters of Suzi Quatro, Paula Wilcox and Debbie Harry to our bedroom walls.  Happy Days!

Sir Alex Ferguson, The Official Manchester United Celebration of 25 years at Old Trafford by Mancheser United FC - £13.00 (Waterstones)

The self-explanatory publication chronicles how Fergie turned United from 1980s underachievers to the all-conquering champions of the Millennium.

It will be interesting to see what take the club has on the dark days when Ferguson’s job hung by a thread. The subsequent birth of the golden generation of Giggs, Beckham and Scholes will no doubt by covered. I dare say United may make mention of Alan Hansen’s  “You don’t win anything with kids” quote.

Sir Alex’s management skills will hopefully be analysed. His relationships with Cantona, Whiteside and McGrath should also make fascinating reading.

Pepe - My Autobiography by Pepe Reina - £17.09 (Waterstones)

Now I know what you're thinking? Couldn’t the present Liverpool number one have come up with a more imaginative title, but I guess the Spaniard's huge contribution to the English game means we can cut him some slack. I mean Dylan Thomas was a poet beyond compare, but I can’t recall him keeping goal for Cardiff City.

These particular memoirs may lift the lid on life at Anfield. How did Reina feel about Raffa’s rant? What went wrong for Roy Hodgson? And why did Fernando lose his form?

The Worst Football Kits of All Time by Dave Moor - £7.09 (WH Smiths)

It’s mid July and the new season is just round the corner. You feel optimistic. This is our season, all is good with the world. Then your jovial mood is destroyed as the new kit is unveiled. What the ****? I can’t believe they are wearing that for the next nine months.

This book is not for the faint hearted. Look away now if you remember Liverpool’s early nineties effort. The traditional all red design is ruined by two white stripes at the top. I don’t know if it’s coincidence but the Pool were struggling in those days.  The ill-fated reign of Greame Souness was in its last throws, following embarrassing defeats to Bristol City and Coventry City. Blame the shirt, I say.

Everton are also named and shamed. Last season's pink away strip is the offending item of clothing. Hands up who would have loved to have seen Duncan Ferguson modelling this garment!

Some kits should carry a heath warning. Indeed Manchester United’s grey get up was inscribed “This shirt can seriously damaged your results". Sir Alex took heed when United were getting a pasting at Southampton. With his boys trailing 3-0 at half time, Fergie dispensed with the hairdryer and instructed his charges to don a blue and white number. Not that it changed matters, United lost 3-1. In the post match press conference Ferguson claimed that the grey shirts effected his side's ability to pass the ball.

Other crimes for the fashion police include Arsenal’s away kits of the early nineties and Coventry’s infamous brown away attire.


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Colin Illingworth



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