“The Rough Guide To Cult Football”, edited by Andy Mitten
With contributions from far and wide, this well-written tome isn’t just another pub bore’s reference but more a soccer lover’s almanac guaranteed to raise a smile at the sheer splendour, diversity and downright silliness of the beautiful game.
The Rough Guide team have produced a funny, interesting book that just begs to be picked up and read. Don’t open it if you are already late for your wedding/funeral because you will be instantly lost in the dimension that is the special reserve of time-wasters – like daytime TV but more edifying. If time is there to be killed, then prepare to plead guilty and face the odd pleasurable half-hour in solitary.
A roughly chronological introduction dribbles through the history of the game before scoring with a hat-trick of chapters headed “The Legends”, “The Gaffers” and “The Clubs”. It can’t have been easy to find something new to say about any of these topics and, to their credit, the authors haven’t simply rehashed tired old anecdotes. Instead, they have trawled fascinating snippets from the soccer pond.
Who knew that a previous England keeper was nicknamed “Fatty” and ended his days playing “Beat the Goalie” on Blackpool sands? Or that a former Fulham manager’s idea of a team-talk consisted of ignoring them and, instead, reading the paper before walking out without a word? Or that the same manager then went on to discover Johan Cruyff?
There is the merest hint of padding, with lists including great football TV comedy moments and players who went into politics, but overall you get the feeling that this book has been lovingly crafted by aficionados. At 270 pages, this is a brilliant chance to cross off at least one Christmas present or buy for a bit of self-education, perfect for the half-time hiatus.
All human (footballing) life is here – with, thankfully, few reworkings of old stories – and plenty of new stuff with which every fan, regardless of allegiances, will be able to … well, OK, bore his mates down the pub at least.
The Rough Guide To Cult Football, edited by Andy Mitten, Rough Guides, £7.99