Recommended books on real football, vintage programmes and memorabilia
If you have a book that you'd like reviewed or simply listed on this page, please contact me.
'In the summer of 1883, William Sudell set out on a quest, pure in honesty, extreme in vision.What happened next would change the face of modern football, forever.This is the story of a club – born of men from factories and mills – which blazed a trail through British football.' The Invincibles is a wonderful book covers the remarkable season had by Preston North End in 1888/89 in a style that is captivating. Great website too.
Fully Programmed - Derek Hammond & Gary Silke
There's far more to vintage football programmes than optimistic manager's notes, unreliable teamsheets and grudging opposition 'pen picture'. Before the era of the standardised corporate brochure, every club's programme had a different, unique personality, and played it's part in the precious ritual of going to the match. Packed with pictures and memories, Fully Programmed offers an irresistible window back into more innocent times.
Journeyman - Ben Smith
Excellent honest book as Ben Smith details his football career from an Arsenal hopeful to the cliched journeyman playing for the likes of Reading, Yeovil, Southend, Hereford, Shrewsbury and Weymouth. Wonderful book exploring the world of a footballer just a whisker away from being a household name, but always falling short. Highly recommended.
The Miracle of Castel di Sangro - Joe McGinnis
In the summer of 1996, in a tiny, impoverished town deep in the remote heart of southern Italy, a sporting miracle took place. The footballers of Castel di Sangro (pop 5,000) won promotion to Serie B. The Miracle of Castel di Sangro dramatically reveals football's limitless potential for magic, wonder and improbable romance. After reading this I don't think you'll ever look at Italian football in the same light again.
The Numbers Game - Chris Anderson & David Sally
Why Everything You KNow About Football is Wrong.......in this Myth busting book the authors show that every shred of knowledge we can gather can help us to love football and understand it even more. You'll discover why stopping a goal is more valuable than scoring one, why corners should be taken short and why it is better to improve your worst player than buy a superstar. I love numbers and this book links them to football in a way that'll open your eyes!
The Glory Game - Hunter Davies
This was the first football book that I ever bought and like my first trip to my local club, Southend United, it opened my eyes (and many others) to the difference between the reality of footballers lives and the public perception. Players were revealed as human beings, rather than icons, with the same fears, desires, insecurities, egos as the rest of us. But played out in the public eye and under pressure. An amazing insight into a football world that has long gone, sadly.
Postcards from the Edge of Football - Hunter Davies
Another from Hunter Davies but a completely different book from the Spur's Glory Game. A quirky look at postcards of all different types from the very beginning of football right up to publication in 2010. There is some great images in this collection with the best, as the book itself says, being from 1900-1930.
Football's Comic Book Heroes - Adam Riches
I grew up with comics and sporting strips were always my favourite. This superb book traces football stories in comics from Boy's Realm Football Library through to Valiant. Limp Along Leslie, Biffalo Bill, The Red Rangers, Bouncing Briggs, Gorgeous Gus and, of course, Roy of the Rovers. Wallow in nostalgia!