The Day Italian football Died – Torino and the tragedy of Superga
Written by Alexandra Manna and Mike Gibbs: Published by The Brredon Books Publishing Company in Great Britain 2000
This is a really sympathetically written book that takes as the central theme the tragic plane crash of May 1949 which was carrying the entire Torino team as well as reserves, officials and trainers. Torino were known at the time as Grande Torino because of their dominance of Italian football having won Serie A for the previous three seasons and were about to win their fourth,
The players were so dominant in Italian football that they contributed more than half of the national team players for some time. The final chapter in the book reveals some very profesional statistics about the players and the club and throughout there are numerous photos that bring the words to light.
There are obvious comparisons to be drawn with the Munich air disaster but what followed was not a rebirth into ultimate bright lights but a struggle to shake off what appeared to be a curse on the team and its fortunes.
The history before the crash from the clubs inception is covered as is the 50 years that followed and it was this anniversary that inspired the publishing of the book. This disaster had a profound impact on Italian football and is still very much in the conscience today.
Philosophy Football ‘Eleven Great Thinkers Play it Deep’.
Written by Mark Perryman: Published by Penguin Books 1997
Yet another Oxfam Book buy (£1.80) that has sat on my bookshelf for some time.
A small sized book with only 131 pages I thought would be a quick read. Nothing of the sort, this book sets 11 great philosophers, thinkers, writers, musicians in Mark’s eleven a side football team. Mark reviews, extends and fits their life skills and what they have contributed to world development into their imagined position in the team.
This sounds deep and highbrow but mark gets lots of light hearted writing even into some of the very serious team members.
For me it was not an easy book to read as I wanted reference to the individuals values that I did not know but it certainly was worthwhile. Mark Perryman is the Co founder of Philosophy Football which as the book states “is a self styled sporting outfitters of intellectual distinction”. www,philosophyfootball,com
Mark has written other books and writes regularly on different topics as well as football.
One recent article ‘Null and Void’ points out that in this pandemic top flight football has shown up to be in the main just another business that is scrambling to keep the money-spinning show on the road. I fully sympathise with his article and will look out for more in the future.
Just look up ‘Null and Void’ Mark Perryman and it will come up first on the google list.
Bowles’ written by Steve Bidmead and Published by Virgin Books Ltd 2002 as part of FourFourTwo Footballers series.
This was a nostalgic read capturing the era when characters not only filled the back pages but front as well of the press in general. Stan Bowles was the anti hero to some but a hero to many who saw him as one of their own. He has been termed a maverick by many which is defined in The Collins Dictionary 25th Oct 2016 as : a person of independent or unorthodox views….Over the subsequent course of time, the word has been used to describe people in both a positive and negative context. To me Stan was a postive person reflecting the lives of many of his time. He was also an amazingly talented footballer.
This book captures the time and with the help of Stan a look into his world.
Born in Manchester he first came to fame at Manchester City but a not unusual fall out with another larger than life character Malcolm Allison saw him leave and play for two northern clubs before he joined QPR in 1972 and set in motion a seven year stay that saw him idolised by the fans.
He was bought to replace Rodney Marsh, departed for Manchester City, whose number ten shirt no one wanted to wear. Marsh had become a cult figure at the club and I can testify to this having seen him dominate a game at Watford one evening. An injury on the far side of the pitch from the dugouts saw him leave the field, lean against the hoardings, chat to the fans for a few minutes, then signal to the referee to return and continue his masterclass.
Stan Bowles however was not fazed by his predecessors aura and soon became the fans darling due to his on and off field antics. As a player he would often receive the ball in the attacking half and be able to effortlessly jink or body swerve a defender and bend a ball with both sides of his right foot to produce a telling pass or shot. QPR arguably had a golden era when Stan played for them.
Unfortunately his footballing abilities were overshadowed by his life off the pitch and this book captures this brilliantly.
Not to ruin the book I will list only two of his telling quotes and these only from the introduction, ‘I lost a half million quid on gambling, booze and women – the rest I wasted’ and ‘I was penniless again. I’d blown the lot on vodka and tonic, gambling and fags.Looking back, I think I overdid it on the tonic.’
If you can get a copy of this book sit back and enjoy a time when individualism was still above the team ethic and personal activities were not plastered across Social Media.
brilliant orange : written by David Winner : Published in 2000 by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
This was another classic must read football book I found in an Oxfam bookshop for £2.50. It’s bright orange cover has sat there for too long enticing me to pick it up and now was a good opportunity.
Firstly I must say that sometimes the football was incidental as David Winner educated me on Dutch history, culture, architecture, environment, people and much more and this enhances the background to the football.
This is an explanation of how ‘Total Football’ was born and developed from the 1950’s to the end of the millennium. The Netherlands had been considered a dull, efficient, practical country that changed in the 60’s with a vibrant youth culture, pioneering architects and a new flowing total football that encompassed individual skill with a team pattern that was to surprise and please the world.
Much is put on the shoulders of Johan Cruyff but the book explores his undoubted talent but also the flaws and the other key players who created the revolution.
Ajax are at the centre of the book with their amazing European Cup achievements in the early 1970’s when they won it three times and once again in the 1994/95 season under Louis van Gaal. There is also major analysis of why the National Team have not won the World Cup or beaten their major rival Germany when it seemed turning up was all that was needed. Is it arrogance, no killer instinct or are they are just nice people, the interviews with players and coaches give an in depth insight.
I won’t spoil it for you, but I will say I shouldn’t have left it on the to read pile for so long.
Andrew Watson – ‘The world’s First Black Football Superstar’ Written by Tony Talburt – First Published in 2017 by Hansib Publications Limited.
This book I found in a nearby Library and turned out to be fascinating. Only 115 pages long it is a quick and easy read and is well referenced for anyone wishing to make further studies.
Tony Talburt sets the historical and environmental outlook in Guyana and Glasgow very well. He also paints the picture of developing battles between Amateurs and Professionals, between Scottish and English tactics and styles of play and the Working Class and the Elite for the future of football.
The time is the mid to end of the nineteenth century and Andrew Watson a blackman from Guyana plays for the two premier teams in the world, Queens Park and the Corinthians as well as the best national team in the world, Scotland. Watson played for Scotland in their 6-1 trouncing of England at the Oval in 1881 and although only appearing on three occasions he was made captain of the national team.
Watson was also an administrator of clubs he played for and helped influence some of the rules of the game.
The book certainly makes a strong case for Andrew Watson’s elevation to the rank of the worlds first black football superstar but Robert Walker of Queens Park (the first black player), Arthur Wharton (believed to be the first black professional) and Walter Tull (an outstanding club player for Clapton, Tottenham and Northampton) might all have had a view.
No need to say much more than suggest you get a copy of this book and enjoy.