Reading every copy of The Guardian from the last fifty years is both impractical and possibly just a little time-consuming. Reading this book featuring ‘fifty years of classic reporting’ makes much more sense.
Kelner, Martin. White, Jim. McCarra, Kevin. Lacey, David. Just a few of the excellent writers whose work makes up this equally excellent compilation. For some fans, these names are synonymous with quality football writing, and they do not disappoint in this epic book.
The Guardian have gathered together the best of the best articles on football, its impact on the world, the characters which make up the game and occasionally, the matches which make up the rich tapestry of the sport.
Covering subjects including Manchester United (twice), the rise and fall of Brian Clough, the advent of the Premiership and legendary icons of the game – Pelé, Cruyff, Maradona et al – The Guardian Book of Football presents articles from the newspaper’s history, starting out in 1958 and the Manchester Guardian’s front-page report on the Munich disaster.
The articles therefore present not only each story itself, but also a valuable time capsule, referencing attitudes to the game, historical background and social factors related to football from decades gone by.
With regards to the aforementioned Clough chapter, David Lacey remarked in 1973: ‘Clough harms image of English football.’ Lacey again, in 1991, comments on plans to shift some league matches to Sunday’s for television coverage with the headline: ‘Bidding sad farewell to all our Saturdays.’
There is an eye-opening article from Frank Keating on: ‘Way back when…the Reds were struggling,’ shedding light on Liverpool’s chequered past which the new breed of post-Premier League formation fans may not be aware of. Before the European titles, the League titles, and Bill Shankly, ‘Liverpool were a Second Division club in a vulnerable industrial city.’ The rest is history. History which is accurately represented within the chapter on ‘Liverpool’s Bootroom Revolution.’
For any football fan interested in the history of the game, and how it grew into the monster – good or bad, sometimes it’s hard to decide – it is today, looming over us through television, advertising and relentless media coverage, The Guardian is an excellent resource. Through the magnificent writing, in some cases peppered with humour and wit, and historical accuracy, each article is a joy to read.
Cynics may take one look at the chapter list however, and immediately point out some faults. As I mentioned before, there are two chapters on Manchester United, while Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea are also well-represented. ‘Big club’ bias perhaps?
Well the cynics are wrong. The chapter on ‘Before the Premiership: of cups and characters’ covers the best of the rest, and there is absolutely no denying that the respective histories of Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal and the recent history of Chelsea have helped shaped the modern-game.
The price tag may also put some readers off, with the book clocking in at a hefty £25 for around 150 articles. Quite frankly though, you pay for the quality within the pages, and by the end of the book the price is not something you will be thinking about.
Well-presented, with the articles presented in broadsheet newspaper format complete with the best images sports photography has to offer, it’s just a fantastic book in both an informative and entertaining sense.
The front cover says it all. Several archetypal fans of the 1950’s wander past the new Wembley, complete with the skyline threatening, million-pounds worth arch. The Guardian have been there from the past to the present, throughout the modern-day changes. Providing valuable news to the fans that may otherwise have been left behind. It’s all here in The Guardian Book of Football.
RATING: 5 out ofTags: Book Review, Mike Herd