Das Reboot

Das Reboot -How German Football Reinvented Itself and Conquered the World

Written by – Raphael Honigstein

Published by Yellow Jersey Press (Part of the Penguin Random House Group) 2015

With the impending World Cup it was luck I found this book in an Oxfam Shop in Stratford.

The book is well written and very detailed into how Germany won the 2014 World Cup not just on the field but in their preparation and organisation.

Having had a disastrous Euros in 2004 they turned to Jurgen Klinsmann who swept into the job with his own staff in controversial fasion. At the same time the German FA were reviewing their strategy to youth development and subsequently introduced an academy system that top clubs had to adopt, this was later cascaded down to lower divisions. They also implemented a wide ranging increase in professional coaches and coaching that could reach outlying football areas as well as those dominated by the top teams.

Klinsmann’s Germany out performed expectation in the 2006 World Cup and only went out in the semi final to Italy 2-0 with both Italy’s goals coming in the last few minutes of extra time. Klinsmann unexpectedly stood down and the job was taken up by Joachim Löw.

Low too was his own man and continually drew negativeness from some of the footballing community. His perseverance and benefit from the influx of new players on the scene steeped in the new teaching methods enabled him to lead a world conquering team in 2014.

The book is a great insight into Low’s strategies but also the developing football styles in Germany at the time. For me the description of the emergence of Ralf Rangnick and his pressing ideas is fascinating, I had no idea of the man’s influence on modern football and football managers. A recent spat by a well known European star seemed to query why he was used by Manchester United as an interim manager, Ralf Rangnick who!

I have not given away too much of the book but I would say that you should get past the first chapter and gain an insight in the game today and wander why German club teams do not win more European trophies. Alas I think the answer is money provided by external countries to Europe.

Fathers of Football

Fathers of Football, Great Britons who took the game to the world.

Written by Keith Baker, First Published in 2015 by Pitch Publications.

I haven’t written a book review for some time as I have read other than football. Sometimes a change is needed.

I came across this book in the White Rose Café in Thirsk which serves good coffee and cake as well as books. I was partly attracted to it by the fact it was only 159 pages long and a short read was all I needed.

The book is a story of Britons who left our shores prior to 1914 and were greatly influential in inspiring the start of football in general or clubs that have gone on to master the game.

These Britons were at the dawn of football in Italy, Spain Brazil, Argentina, Hungary and other countries that have been at the pinnacle of the game in modern times. In the main they went abroad for business and to seek their fortune and took knowledge or a passion about a round leather ball and the new rules being established at home. It is interesting how because of the society they travelled in the game was initially for gentlemen but this was the catalyst for working class dominance that propelled the game to a mass sport.

The book is easy and quick to read and flows, because the chapters are not long it is a book you can easily read in bite size chunks. Thank you Keith for furthering my knowledge of the game.

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As well as a few novels during my football sabbatical I read a book about cricket!

Penguins Stopped Play – eleven village cricketers take on the world.

Written By Harry Thompson Published by ‎ John Murray; 5th Reprint 2007 320 pages long.

I chose this book for its comedy not its cricket but soon found it was both and much more. Written by one of our best comedy show/script writers the comedy was assured and there had to be some cricket but what drew me in was the people interaction of the team and how they evolved and showed their true character. It was also about all of those teams up and down the country, whichever sport, who need that one pivot to cajole, chase, invent players to make sure the game happens and goes on. Some of the antics of the team are childlike but there is a seriousness to their existence and their final achievements.

You must read this book right to the end to fully appreciate it.

Non-League Club Directory 2022/23. 45th Edition.

The latest version of the directory arrived while I was away in Scotland but a visit to my Royal Mail depot has brought it home for my delight.

Every edition takes a great deal of dedication and hard work and is a wonder that it appears each year.

I once heard an Alistair Cooke’s ‘Letter from America’ where he said that on Christmas Eve to wind down ready for the festivities he would sit in a comfy chair put on the ‘Messiah’ and sip a whisky. The arrival of the directory gives me the same relaxation feeling as I get lost in its content and quietly plan a framework for my season.

Straight away I have found a club I hadn’t considered to visit and it has been pencilled in.

Thank you as always Mike and Tony Williams and all your helpers. I hope you make it to number 46 and maybe number 50.

Non-League Club Directory 2022/23

As in previous years this is the only advert you will see on my blog. This fantastic source of Non-League information is in its 45th year and this season reverts to its thicker version of almost 900 pages of last season’s results and league tables and the information on all teams playing in the Non-League system to step 7 and sometimes beyond. This is a great fact book that I buy every year, usually at Christmas, but this year I am taking advantage of the online discount from £26.50 to £19.99 plus £3.75 postage and I will receive it hot off the press in Mid August.

http://www.nonleagueclubdirectory.co.uk

‘The Ghosts of Cathkin Park’

‘The Ghosts of Cathkin Park’ – The inside story of Third Lanark’s Demise

Written by Michael McEwan. Published 2021 by Arena Sport

This book tells the story of the stadium (Cathkin Park) and the club it housed, Third Lanark.

Third Lanark grew up and survived the history of this working class area of Glasgow until its final days in 1967 despite being one of Scotland’s most historic clubs having been a founder member of the Scottish F.A. and the winners of the greatest silverware available in the country.

I visited Cathkin Park and wrote about it on September 8th last year which captured my interest and when I saw that there was a new book it was a must read.

The book is importantly about the players, fans and officials who were there and responsible for the demise of the club and therefore the ground. Although there were board members who appeared to hold most of the blame the book does not give you a definitive villain but you can draw your own conclusions. Where also were the local council and the Scottish F.A. in the plight of the club.

With most of those who were involved no longer with us direct questions can not be asked. What I liked most about the book was the way in which it put the time and place of the crime (the demise of Third Lanark) in context with what was going on in Scottish and European football, local people, local politics, the environment and the world.

While in 1967 Celtic were winning the European Cup, Rangers reached the final of the European Cup Winners Cup and Kilmarnock lost in the semi final of the Inter Cities Fairs Cup’ Third Lanark were drifting away into obscurity. One of Scotland’s proudest football times was tainted by goings on just literally down the road from the national stadium.

The Farther Corner

The Farther Corner – A Sentimental Return to North – East Football.

Written by Harry Pearson. Published by Simon and Schuster UK Ltd 2020

On holiday in August 2019 I read and reviewed ‘The Far Corner’ a book by Harry Pearson that had been first published in 1994. I summed the books up as, ‘The humour and idiosyncrasies of Football fans shines through, who else would try to find where the Charlton brothers were born and succeed. The holiday was made better by my suppressed laughter.’

I have just read ‘The Farther Corner’ again by Harry Pearson a follow up to the ‘Far Corner,’ 25 years later which is about Harry’s journey through the 2018/19 season. Again the humour just drips off the pages and his amazing knowledge and research into all things football in the North East, the players, teams, history, games, grounds but most enjoyable the people he meets at matches and on his way on the Metro, trains, buses and in the street. Already I had a curiosity for North East football brought on by teams from the area winning the Amateur Cup and FA Vase and knocking St Albans out of the former trophy and this book has reinforced me to visit and learn more.

Harry Pearson’s team of the season was Dunston UTS but there are visits all over. The humour and writing style has not been diminished and I only hope that we do not have to wait another 25 years for the follow up.

Perhaps it will be called the ‘Farthest Corner’.

George Orwell keeps turning up.

It’s funny how a series of events lead you on to others. Everything I read seemed to have a reference to George Orwell.

It started when reading the fascinating ‘Slow Trains Around Spain’ by Tom Chesshyre, Published by Summersdale in 2021. During one of his 52 rides he visits the Aragon where nearby he tries to find where Orwell was shot by a sniper. Puting Orwell aside this is a book to bury yourself in, get under the skin of the true Spain and yearn for a quick return to exploring.

The Orwell reference prompted me to read ‘The Last Man in Europe’ written by Dennis Glover and published by BurlinnLtd in 2021. This is a novel about aspects of George Orwell’s life in particular his time spent on the Scottish island of Gigha just off the coast of the Kintyre peninsular where he wrote 1984. The last man in Europe was originally the name for 1984 before it was finally published. I had bought the book whilst on holiday in the picturesque coastal village of Tarbert in a shop that offers local books, paintings, gifts etc.

The novel really helped me to put Orwell in context, something I failed to do in the early 1970’s when I read most of his books. His time on Gigha was at the end of his life when he was writing 1984 but I also enjoyed a fascinating chapter on his involvement in the Spanish Civil War including being shot on the ‘Aragon Front’ and how he made it back to the UK via Madrid.

I was then reading the 21st edition of ‘Nutmeg’ ( A quarterly Scottish football journal I have described in a previous post) and up pops George Orwell again.

In an article by Michael Galagher ‘Old Firm Détente’ he recounts a time when in 1945 Moscow Dynamo visited Britain on a supposed goodwill trip to play football, one of which was a game against Rangers. The score was 2-2, Rangers having come back from a 2 nil deficit but that had no interest to Orwell.

Orwell gave his views in a famous essay ‘The Sporting Spirit’ where he stated it was “war minus the shooting”.

I reached for a copy of ‘George Orwell Essay’s’ which I still have on the book shelves. My copy was published by Penguin in 1970 and contains this three page musing.

George Orwell was dismissive of the tour that had confrontations and disputes in each game and he widened his views to the Olympic Games stating “international sporting contacts lead to orgies of hatred”. I wandered if his views were still valid and wandered hat he would make of the football Champions League with its multi country competition. More intriguingly what he would have made of the English Premiership where Manchester City (U.A.E.), Newcastle (Saudi Arabia), etc, use sport to promote an image of their country and culture.

The sporting undercurrent of “war minus shooting” seems to have subsided but there are still dark undercurrents raging. Other considerations seem to have taken over for example the nationalism of Eastern Europe is being expressed in a supremacy through racial abuse of black players. I think that George Orwell would have been pleased that Gareth Southgate, his team and players have promoted a more inclusive view of society helping to rid the national team support of some of its bigotry. However in the back ground to this the head of the U K’s football policing is organizing meetings to discuss the worrying large increase in disorder at football matches especially those below the Premiership.

Of the Olympic Games the opening ceremony of the winter games in China was a triumph in spectacle for this for this ever expanding influence. Against this though there are some key countries who are not sending officials as a protest against the treatment of minorities. So poliics are still played out in sport.

I think George Orwell would say that nothing has changed since his essay ‘The Sporting Spirit’ only that confrontation is played out in different ways and I would have to agree with him.

Payonthegate 2021

Looking back on last year I was surprised to recall the number of games I was lucky to watch.

The year started in lockdown and television football was the only way of seeing a game but there were still some highlights in the early months and I have put together my favourite football Posts of each month.

January – Reading, Working Class Heroes about Rayo Vallecano.

February – Reminiscing about my favourite football food.

March – All Hope Gone, a low point of the year.

April – watching ‘Finding Jack Charlton’, what a man.

May – Yippee, football was back and just round the corner where Glapwell are making a comeback.

June – Finding the quarterly magazine ‘Nutmeg’. Although about Scottish football the writing in this nearly 200 page publication is superb, engaging and professional.

July – The F.A. publish their re-organisation for Non-League football. Clarity and a chance to plan (dream).

August – Finding Belper Town FC a great local progressive club.

September – Finally making it to Tow Law Town and not being disappointed.

October – Folkestone Invicta and another up and coming club. Great facilities.

November – A trip to see Percy Main, another long term goal achieved but that was trumped by being at Clarence Park to see St Albans beat Forest Green in the F.A. cup.

December – Right at the end of the year the amazing turnout at Hallam F.C. where a crowd of 1128, (The inside cover of the program said the ground capacity was 1000), saw them go top of the League in a pulsating game on a difficult pitch.

2022 beckons and despite Omnicron it looks like football will carry on and I have a lot more journeys and goals to achieve. Thank you for reading my blog and the feedback I get.

In Pictures

Christmas Cheer

Unfortunately Christmas time is again disrupted for many by the pandemic but luckily for me I received the gift of The Non – League Club Directory 2021/2022 which will give me endless hours of exploring the 880 pages for statistics and venues for future football away days.

Unexpectedly I was also given British Football Grounds – one hundred must – see football venues, written by Mike Bayly and published in 2020 by Pitch Publishing. This compliments another of my favourite references, The History of Non – League Football Grounds by Kerry Miller and published in 1996 by Polar Print Group Ltd. Going through the new book I am on my way to already visiting nearly 40 of them but there are some great new grounds to visit.

With regards Christmas football, every year I see an article about the football matchplayed in No Mans land between the trenches on the first Christmas of the Great War. However this year it has not cropped up but a new Christmas story has emerged from 75 years ago when Hatfield Heath F.C. played a team of PoWs who were marched to the game at gun point. The game was watched by a good crowd that was swelled by other PoWs and resulted in Hatfield Heath suffering their worst ever defeat 11-0. The Pow team was a mixed contingent of Austrians, Germans and Italians.

I Hate Football – A Fan’s Memoir

I Hate Football – A fan’s Memoir

Written by John Firth. First Published by Peakpublish 2009

This is a book about a Sheffield Wednesday fan, how he was bitten with the football bug in 1966, not the World Cup Final but Wednesday losing 2-3 to Everton in the FA Cup Final. Although he went to see both Sheffield League clubs it was Wednesday that hooked him which was not a surprise with his parents being ardent fans.

Sheffield Wednesday are a truly YoYo club since John Frith started supporting them and he really gets across the true emotions of elation and despair that he has experienced.

They were long standing members of the old First Division and were one of the initial teams there at the start of the Premier League. However after 8 seasons they slipped down to the Championship and John quite eloquently explains the new disconnect between the Premier League and the rest and the elite mega rich teams and those that make up the numbers.

John eludes to the fact that the most satisfying game and trip of his football career was to Cardiff for a Play Off Final which they won but was also an amazing football friendly experience.

Players, managers and owners are rightly praised and pilloried and John is able to get to meet some of the main actors.

Throughout there is a thread through the book about the club and pub scene in Sheffield which he explains was lively, enjoyable and sometimes confrontational.

There are some parts of the book concerning fan confrontations that I was not comfortable with but on the whole the book was entertaining and truly put across the love/hate relationship that you endure when following Sheffield Wednesday.