Saturday, July 14, 2007

Post Trauma Scribblings

First up, Australia has no meaningful chance of defeating Thailand on Monday night. We're not up to it. This is not our Asia Cup, and let's face it, if we have to beat most of Asia to get into the 2010 World Cup (we do), that's become a pipe dream as well. The Socceroos are back in the wilderness, and we have to breathe and once again look at the long term.

Defence has been our Achilles' heal, and despite the general hammering Lucas is now getting in the press, we're going to miss him on Monday, out with a red card suspension. The Thais in front of their own will be relishing this chance to take out the 'favourites', and they will unless a miracle occurs.

Before that game there was lots of armchair advice flying around about what the lineup should be and where the players should be on the field. I can't presume much about this as I'm a thousand miles further away from the players and the training than the coaches, and can't pretend to have the same sort of background knowledge of the game. My only general comment on this front is that we should have stuck with one striker.

Putting two talented players up front where they can't help with the machinery of defence and midfield possession is the sort of arrogance that Guus knew he must avoid. I think part of the cleverness of Guus was that he recognised that Australia were NOT one of the best teams in the world, and that they had to be carefully played with that in mind. The logic of one player up front is not that we only need one up there to score goals (hell, four would be great), but that we need the extra player in midfield to make sure we don't lose. You play two up front when you have a midfield and a defence full of genius, and we don't. As the cliche goes, the trick is not to win games; the trick is to not lose them. The current squad is formed up as if it is the hottest shit, and it's not. Never has been. Guus knew that I think and played accordingly.

It's the meat of the argument that Arnold is too 'chummy' with the players. Of course they think they're hot shit. That's only natural after their successes in Germany. So Viduka says he wants a partner so he can score more. From his perspective, of course! And of course there are plenty of volunteers for the job. And Arnold seems to be hypnotised into the role of 'listening' to them. Well babyface, sure you have to listen to them, but it's also your job to keep perspective of the whole operation. And their egos have nothing to do with it.

So over to the big coach question. As far as I know Arnold might have the most extraordinary understanding of the game around, he might have done all the coaching courses, learned everything Guus had to teach and be a tactical genius. I don't really think that's the case but even if it is, he lacks something that can't be taught, and I've thought this from the first time I saw him on the screen. He lacks what the Romans called gravitas, presence, charisma, sex-appeal if you like. Hell, he has a (slightly) better figure than Guus, and isn't much less pretty, but it comes from somewhere unknown. Guus, despite his figure and round small-eyed face, is sexy.

Guus has the presence that draws loyalty and respect even before he speaks. When I saw Arnold last night flitting his eyes around nervously as he gnawed on his fingernails, I had to look away. He's not a leader, and thanks to the current debacle, which is a horrible mistake for his own career through the cursus honorum of the football world as much as anything, he never will be. The players think he's a great guy and I'm sure he is. I bet he shouts them a round of drinks and listens patiently to all their gripes and troubles. But they aren't playing for him, they're playing to their own egos. That's why you need formidable gravitas - to negate the naturally inflated egos of media superstars.

So where do we go from here? A big-gun coach is an enormous expenditure for the FFA and if we're not contending for a World Cup place for at least another four years (via the next Asia Cup), I can't see the point. The real work to build Australia's soccer prowess goes on, at junior club level, in the A-League, in schools and grass-roots training programs, and in our own senior leagues, men and women, young and old. This is the stuff building for the long-term a culture of soccer - a culture where the Mums and Dads on the sidelines actually understand the game enough not to shout out 'go yourself Johnny', or 'big kick Dorothy', a culture which produces talent constantly and organically, and does not rely on new immigrant enthusiasm or European tours to provide the genius. We are all part of this long-term effort and must not lose sight of it. For it is a long-term effort, and I was as guilty as anyone of believing for a magic instant that maybe it wasn't.

Sure, replace the coach, but give another Aussie a go. He probably won't be brilliant, but let's not assume that. Hell, give Ernie Merrick a go. He might show us some goods, and it will also contribute to building Australian coaching in the long term, which is as necessary as building players. Don't put too much pressure on him I reckon. Work with twelve month contracts, and maintain a critical but supportive eye. If and when the team, as it did under Farina, again get to the point where it looks like they have the players and the spirit to go for the big time, fork out the money for a big-gun then.

I woke up this morning at 4 am from a mild nightmare. Jacob woke from his sleep next to me. We had watched the game from under the doonah on a stream on my computer and the last I heard from him, just before the third goal, was, "wake me up if they start playing good football." So at 4 he went into his own bed and I got up and surfed around the media about that game. And these are my thoughts.



Monday, July 09, 2007

Time Wasting

We're getting used to it now, or we should be. A distinctive feature of the Asian game is the use feigned injury as a time wasting device. They do it, the referee has no choice but to watch it happen, and it is apparently part of the accepted culture of play. Frustrating, yes.

The Socceroos have no meaningful choice in how they must approach this. It's no good Harry Kewell and John Aloisi wasting their stretched energy getting upset. They have to learn to use the couple of minutes to breathe, talk to each other and recharge some batteries as they get into their best positions, as no doubt the Omanese were doing.

If the Socceroos' greatest handicap is the conditions, then a shortened game, in itself, should suit them. A shortened game with intermittent rests (albeit always at the most inconsiderate moments) should suit them even more. They just have to use the playing time they have to get possession and organise a goal.

Seriously though, if this is the way it is, the quicker the Socceroos get with the program the better. They certainly don't have to engage in the behaviour, but they need to be prepared to use it for whatever opportunity it has to give, every time. They don't have a choice.

Adapting to the conditions means more than the weather, we have learned.

Blogger reviews of the actual game are at The Football Tragic, The Round Ball Analyst, A Seat at the A-League and Victory in Melbourne.

PS. I know I've given up blogging. Let's just say saying goodbye will be my fallback position whenever I don't post for six weeks. I'll just post when I have something to write about Soccer, however infrequently. And Jacob is encouraging me to do the Bloggers' A-League Tipping competition - he won the inaugural event after all - so I guess I will.


Sunday, July 01, 2007

My Football Library

This page will be regularly updated and linked from the side-bar. Feel free to make recommendations in comments. Last update 15 November 2007.

I've always been a bibliophile, and whatever I've gotten into, I collect books about it. In less than twelve months I've accumulated some great books about the beautiful game, read many of them, reviewed a couple, and been recommended others by the blogging community. This page is a record of that library. It also links reviews of my own and other bloggers.

Footballers' Biography

David Beckham, My Side, CollinsWillow, London, 2003. First Edition hardback 404 pages. Autobiography of Beckham. I haven't read it and might get around to it some day.

Billy Bingham, Soccer With the Stars, Stanley Paul, London, 1962. First edition hardback (with damaged dustjacket) 192 pages. I haven't yet read this autobiography of this colourful sounding Irish footballer.

John Charles, King John, Headline Book Publishing, 2003. First edition hardback with dustjacket 277 pages. Unread, but this is one I certainly will get to. Sounds like an extraordinary man as well as footballer.

Paul Gascoigne, Being Gazza - My Journey to Hell and Back, Headline, London, 2006. First edition paperback 289 pages. I've already read one book about Gazza (Ian Hamilton's Gazza Italia below), and although everyone says he's brilliant and a character he's not my greatest interest. Basically if I see a soccer book I haven't got at a seconds sale I buy it, and this is in that category. It focuses on Gascoigne's drug and mental problems, which along with Jimmy Greaves' This One's On Me (below), seems to be a sub-genre in itself - "The sordid perils of soccer fame" or something. John made a personal recommendation of this to me recently, especially with an interest in a type of genius player who is actually suffering from mental problems - and there may be quite a few.

Ray Gatt, The Rale Rasic Story as told to Ray Gatt, New Holland Publishers, Sydney, 2006. First edition paperback 224 pages. I read this with great interest and frankly I don't think Rasic's story can be ignored. He essentially paints himself as a victim of 'old soccer' and he may have a point. Hell, the man was the first coach to lead the Socceroos to a World Cup, and despite the more recent and greater success of Guus Hidink, it would be a horrible injustice to discount him. Entertainingly written as well. Mike adds below, "Some interesting stuff, especially now that I've seen some of the 1974 games, but Rale's not exactly the most modest. That aspect put me off after a while."

Ryan Giggs with Joe Lovejoy, Giggs - The Autobiography, Penguin, London, 2005. Paperback 394 pages. It came into the shop and I bought it.

Jimmy Greaves, This One's on Me, Coronet Books, 1980. Paperback 176 pages. A journey through the glory and the alcoholism of one of England's great goal scorers. An unusual choice perhaps, but one of the first football biographies I read. Reviewed on Football Down Under.

Ian Hamilton, Gazza Italia, Granta Books, London, 1994 (first 1993). Paperback 188 pages. Let's call this biographical fan literature about Paul Gascoigne. The perspective of a self-consciously besotted fan. Lots of fun. Amongst my limited reading this book seems to foresee the fan-lit genre properly opened by Hornby's Fever Pitch and exemplified by Haner's Soccerhead. It's a very authentic style and one other fans can easily relate to.

Harry Harris, Ruud Gullit: The Chelsea Diary, Orion, London, 1998. Paperback 435 pages. It came into the shop OK. I don't even like Chelsea.

Roy Keane, Keane - The Autobiography, Penguin, 2003. Paperback 321 pages. Bio of the brilliant Irish maverick. I learned a lot about football, especially with regard to club-management issues, from this book.

Colin Malam, Gary Lineker - Strikingly Different, Arrow, London, 1993 (first by Stanley Paul & Co Ltd in 1993). Paperback 219 pages. Biography of Lineker. I haven't even read the Foreword by Bobby Charlton.

Diego Maradona, El Diego, Yellow Jersey Press, London, 2005. Paperback 302 pages. The biography of a great and complex football genius. Read with great pleasure and fascination. Neil reviewed this over at Victory in Melbourne.

Paul McGrath, back from the Brink, Arrow Books, London, 2006. Paperback 419 pages. Came into the shop and I bought it.

Martin Meijer, Guus Hiddink - Going Dutch, Random House Australia, Sydney, 2006. First (no doubt only) edition paperback 260 pages. Read the first couple of chapters of this biography and I'll certainly read it for interest but frankly this looks like a fairly cheap bit of cash-in writing. It doesn't have an index for one thing, which always disgusts me in non-fiction and is a sure sign of cheap, hasty publishing.

Pele, The Autobiography, Simon and Schuster, London, 2006. Paperback 357 pages. Great read. Very candid until toward the end where I think Pele is not capable of being entirely frank due to his current career. An amazing story nevertheless.

Neil Ruddock, Hell Razor, CollinsWillow, London, 1999. First edition hardback with dustjacket 256 pages. Autobiography of Ruddock. Nice looking book, but I'm yet to read it.

Terry Venables and Neil Hanson, Venables - The Autobiography, Penguin, 1995. Paperback 467 pages. Purchased a few weeks ago and haven't got to it yet.

Johnny Warren, Sheilas, Wogs and Poofters - An Incomplete Biography of Johhny Warren and Soccer in Australia, Random House, 2003. The essential backgrounder to new football fans in Australia. Reviewed on Football Down Under.

Tactics and Coaching

Eric Batty (ed), Soccer Coaching the European Way, Souvenir Press, London 1980. First Edition Hardback with dustjacket 240 pages. I've read a few selected chapters of this and thought it was interesting. It's impossible for me not to learn a lot about watching games and playing myself when I read about coaching techniques. I'll pick it up and read another selection from time to time.

David Brenner, Soccer Tactics, Albany Books, London, 1979. Paperback 127 pages. Read this with the encouragement of the author (below). Overviews tactical styles in a simple, helpful way.

Brandi Chastain, It's Not About the Bra - How to Play Hard, Play Fair and Put the Fun Back into Competitive Sports. According to Haner's Soccerhead, it was the moment that Chastain took her shirt off when USA beat China in the 1999 Women's World Cup, celebrating with her sports' bra in full glory, that the USA really went soccer mad. Like Mia Hamm's book this is part biography, part self-help and part coaching. It's also directed pretty directly at parents of junior players, and young players themselves. Touching, inspiring stuff. I recommend it.

Pierluigi Collina, The Rules of the Game, Pan Books, London, 2004 (first 2003). Paperback 210 pages. First brought to my attention by John - "An autobiography by a world cup ref - ie how he feels when the crowd boos him etc." A very simple style disguises a rich relationship with the game and the world of refereeing. My knowledge of reffing grew by about 500% in the space of reading this book, not just in the practice but in the process of progressing, getting games, reviewing performances and the like, all of which is clearly very sophisticated in Italy. For anyone interested in the improvement of refereeing in Australia, I reckon this is a crucial reference.

F.N.S. Creek, Soccer, Brockhampton Press, 1972 (first 1968). Hardback 92 pages. Part of the 'Illustrated Teach Yourself' series. I have barely looked at this book.

George Eastham (ed), Soccer Science, Pelham Books, London, 1966. First edition hardback (no dustjacket) 128 pages. I've read only selected chapters so far but this is great historical stuff. The thrust is pretty modern, emphasising drills for ball control. Chapters on positions including goalkeeper, fitness, heading, shooting and the Laws of the Game.

Mia Hamm, Go for the Goal - A Champion's Guide to Winning in Soccer and Life, Quill, New York, 2000 (first 1999). Paperback 255 pages. I've read the first chapter and although the title suggests a self-help type book, it is within the rubric of autobiography, and also has a great deal of systematic technical and coaching advice, directed at juniors and newbies. As readers of my blog know, I've become fascinated by the possibilities of women's soccer, and this was the first women's soccer book I read. It is also one of the most readable soccer books I've read, and so practical that I would heartily recommend it to any player over 12. Actually I've lent it out and expect to do so repeatedly.

Harry Harris and Mike Varney, The Treatment of Football Injuries, MacDonald and Jane's Publishers, London, 1977. I do mean to give this a decent read but probably won't get round to it. Despite its age, a flip through reveals that not much has changed and the advice, directed largely at amateurs who find themselves in situations before an actual doctor can get involved, is probably still very good.

Ken Jones, Soccer - A Step by Step Guide to Skills and Tactics, Hamlyn, London, 1984. Paperback 64 pages. A brief and simple overview of the fundaments of the game, with black and white photography.

Jim Kelly, On the Ball, Illawarra Daily Mercury, Wollongong, 1962. A proud acquisition. A very scrappy looking paperback, bound with staples through the spine, this is a very rare item. Jim Kelly was a star English player who spurned offers in order to migrate to Australia, where he continued playing and coaching. The rationale for the book is that when he arrived in Australia Jim had so many requests to coach teams, junior and senior, that he felt obliged to write down his thoughts for the improvement of coaches in general. It's an organised coaching manual.

Michael Muckian with Dean Duerst, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Coaching Youth Soccer, Alpha, 2003. Paperback 268 pages. This is from an American perspective, but it is pretty up to date and I've found it helpful.

Horst Wein, Developing Youth Soccer Players, Human Kinetics, 2001. Large paperback 216 pages. This is the text I got when I did a junior coaching course early this year. Clear and up-to-date, it has been my main source for getting youth coaching ideas.

Soccer History

Alex Bellos, Futebol - the Brazilian Way of Life, Bloomsbury, London, 2003. Paperback 420 pages. This one really is a cracker. I can't remember if it was well written or not because the content was so compelling and extraordinary in itself. If football fans in Australia and America dream of a world where soccer is the true and proper religion, then they can read about those living the dream.

Michael Crick and David Smith, Manchester United - The Betrayal of a Legend, Pan, London, 1990 (first 1989). Paperback 344 pages. A critical history very much from the dedicated fan's point of view. Obviously out of date but a very good backgrounder nevertheless of this great club. I'm half way through but will get back to it.

Andy Dougan, Dynamo - Defending the Honour of Kiev, Fourth Estate, London, 2002 (first 2001). Paperback 244 pages. As much a Nazi occupation history of Kiev and the Ukraine than a football book, but the through narrative is the Kiev soccer scene and in particular a group of players known as Kiev Start who defeated every team, including a team of German pilots and soldiers twice, after which they were imprisoned and four of them killed. A corrective (apparently) to Kupers' account of the same game. According to Dougan this is the spiritual foundation of the current FC Dynamo Kiev team. I heartily recommend this to anyone, whether soccer fan or not.

Derek Dougan and Patrick Murphy, Matches of the Day 1958-83, J.M. Dent & Sons, London, 1984. First (probably only) edition hardback with dustjacket. I think I'll savour this in parts when I get to it. A review of 25 games over the said period which the authors felt, "stand out as having an impact way beyond the result on that day."

Arthur E Ellis, Refereeing Around the World, Hutchinson, London, 1954. First edition hardback without dustjacket 196 pages. This one looks interesting. Looks part autobiography of an apparently great referee and partly a book about refereeing (in the post-war game). Very pleased with this score and looking forward to looking at it more closely.

Franklin Foer, How Soccer Explains The World - An Unlikely Theory of Globalization. I discovered this on the net and had to have it. Described as a good companion to Kuper's Football Against the Enemy. Wayne recommends, "a good angle to come into world football from communally wise." I've read a bit over half of this and, in discrete sections about diverse parts of the world, I'll get through it as I use it for railway reading occasionally. Great stuff so far.

Simon Freeman, Baghdad FC - Iraq's Football Story, John Murray, London, 2006 (first 2005). Paperback 240 pages. I devoured this as soon as I bought it a few weeks ago. I always am fascinated by the interface between soccer and politics, and this book covers football in Iraq during the Saddam era and beyond. Important context for the recent Iraqi win, but frankly not well written. It reads like badly organised journalist's notes.

David Goldblatt, The Ball is Round - A Global History of Football, Viking, 2006. First edition hardback with dustjacket 978 pages. I'm through the opening chapters of this tome and it's got me - the most serious and scholarly attempt to describe soccer's early history I've read. I can already say confidently that this is a very important book, though if I ever review it I have a couple of scholastic type criticisms. Current (very occasional, usually bedtime) reading.

Andy Harper, The Socceroos - Voodoo to Destiny, Limelight Press, Sydney 2006. First (only, no doubt) edition paperback 365 pages. Based on interviews with players. I do want to read this, even if it is a cheap bit of cashing-in without an index, but I can't see myself getting around to it soon.

Robert Jeffery, with Mark Gonnella, Pictorial History of English Football, Parragon, London, 2001 (Updated Edition, first 1998). Hardback 256 pages. Looks great from a bit of a peruse, but I haven't got into this yet.

Andrew Jennings, Foul! The Secret World of FIFA: Bribes, Vote Rigging and Ticket Scandals, HarperSport, London 2006. Paperback 286 pages. I reviewed this on Football Down Under, and Mike also reviewed it over at The Football Tragic.

Simon Kuper, Football Against the Enemy, Orion, London, 1996 (first 1994). Paperback 239 pages. Each chapter is a juicy, well-written essay on the political impact of soccer in different parts of the world. Great research and a very important perspective on our game. I'm only about half way through though.

Denis Law, Denis Law's Book of Soccer, Pelham, London, 1965. First edition hardback (no dustjacket) 128 pages. Essays on aspects of the English game from various contributors beginning with Law's, "Why I am obsessed with Soccer," and including quizzes for fans. I've only flipped through this and read the first essay. Somewhat archaic stuff but very interesting.

Peter Morris, West Bromwich Albion - Soccer in the Black Country 1879-1965, Sportsman's Book Club, London, 1966. Hardback with dustjacket 190 pages. A History of the club. I've read the first couple of chapters and it's interesting enough. I'll probably finish it eventually.

Bill Murray, The World's Game - A History of Soccer, University of Illinois Press, Chicago, 1998 (first 1996). First paperback edition 220 pages. Academic but very worthwhile. Reviewed on Football Down Under.

Albert Sewell, The Observer's Book of Association Football, Frederick Warne & Co, London, 1976 (first 1972). Small hardback with dustjacket 192 pages. Can't say I've read it but have flipped through it avidly. Lots of information including colour plates of jersey designs. Mostly England and Europe, in that order of priority.

Ross Solly, Shoot Out: The Passion and the Politics of Soccer's Fight for Survival in Australia, Wiley & Sons, Brisbane, 2004. First edition paperback 324 pages. Recommended by John: "looks at the under belly of the various senate and other enquiries into Australian Football." Mike adds, "good value (and my dad gets a mention at one stage - not emerging in a particularly good light I must say!)" Wes adds, "frankly scary/shocking at times to read." I've read this now and agree with the comments of others. For the politics behind soccer leading up to the Crawford Report, this book is so far indispensable.

Chris Taylor, The Beautiful Game - A Journey Through Latin American Football, Victor Gollancz, London, 1998. First edition hardback with dustjacket 288 pages. This looks great and I can't believe I haven't got to it yet. The name says it all, but it includes discussions about connections with politics and crime. Unfortunately the author is a Chelsea fan. Neil reviewed this over at Victory in Melbourne.

Trevor Thompson, One Fantastic Goal, ABC Books, 2006. First (no doubt only) edition paperback 303 pages. John's recommendation: "Provides useful history of the players we watch every week that are now in their 30s - like when Zdrilric and Milicic scored 40 goals between them for Sydney United. Also, highlights how many times football has fallen over in Australia after much fan fare and 're-birth'." Mike (below) wasn't impressed: "It was clearly rush-released before the World Cup and is abysmally edited." Wayne adds, "a good overview of AU football up to 2006, and has a good chapter on the NSL that was but a primer for Ross Solly's Shoot Out." Well I bought this about six weeks ago and read the preliminaries and first chapter. I'm going to enjoy the information but it is written with little imagination, and doesn't have an index. How can you call a book a 'history' and not have an index?

Adam Ward and John Motson OBE, Motson's National Obsession - The Greatest Football Trivia Book Ever..., Arcane, 2004. Hardback with DJ, third reprint, 194 pages. I've flipped through this, and the title describes it well enough. Organised trivia, designed to be amusing as well as informative.

Fan Literature

Dougie ans Eddy Brimson, Everywhere We Go - Behind the Matchday Madness, Headline, 1996. Paperback 248 pages. A lively if slightly tortured account of football violence and its organisations and tactics from a somewhat repentant hooligan. Very insightful stuff. If you want to get inside the hooligan's heads and understand, this is the book.

Mark Chester, Naughty!, Milo Books, 2006 (first 2003). Paperback 382 pages. About soccer violence written by a Stoke City hooligan. Haven't read it but know I will.

Jesse Fink, 15 Days in June, Hardie Grant Books, Melbourne, 2007. First (no doubt only) edition paperback 232 pages. I have a love-hate relationship with Jesse and simply had to buy his book. I enjoyed it. It's probably impossible to always agree with Jesse, but his commitment and passion is undeniable.

Matthew Hall, The Away Game, Hardie Grant Books, Melbourne, 2006 (first 2000). Paperback 309 pages. The 2000 edition, apparently different in important respects, is glowingly reviewed over at The Football Tragic by both Mike and his commentators. I'm especially intrigued by the idea of an account of the sports-agent side of things. Mike's right - there doesn't seem to be much literature about that. Recently purchased this and will get to it soon. Still after a 2000 edition though.

Jim Haner, Soccerhead - An Accidental Journey into the Heart of the American Game, North Point Press, NY, 2006. First edition hardback 276 pages. A journey of a new American soccer fanatic. Brilliant and insightful, as well as very funny in parts.

Andy Harper, Mr and Mrs Soccer, Random House, Sydney, 2005 (first 2004). Paperback 220 pages. About the media relationship between Johnny Warren and Les Murray. Looks like light reading and I'm sure it will find its way into my train journey reading before too long.

Nick Hornby, Fever Pitch, Penguin, London, 2000. Paperback 239 pages. The football fan classic. Read it with great pleasure. Reviewed by John on A Seat at the A-League. Hornby pioneered a genre of fan literature with this book, exemplified by Haner's Soccerhead. Mike describes it as, "in a class of its own... Brilliantly written and wonderfully observant."

Nick Hornby (ed), My Favourite Year - A Collection of Football Writing, Phoenix, London, 2001. Paperback 288 pages. Fun stuff. A selection of high-profile English fans candidly describe their favourite year of football fandom in relation to 'their team'. Pretty much exclusively for fans.

Les Murray, By the Balls - Memoir of a Football Tragic, Random House, NSW, 2006. First edition paperback 322 pages. One of the first soccer books I read. I can't help liking Les's philosophy of football, he is a very good and interesting writer and I enjoyed his journey very much, and learned a lot as well.

Cass Penant, Congratulations - You have Just Met the I.C.F. (West Ham United), John Blake, London, 2002. This came into the shop and I bought it. The first 50 pages were very readable, by someone who used to be in one of England's most violent, notorious 'firms'. I'll probably get round to giving this a proper look one day.


Neil Armstrong, Amazing Facts of World Cup Football, Paragon Publishing, Dorset, 1998. Presumably the only edition of this paperback 194 pages. Endless trivia about soccer and a quiz section which was originally a competition.

Kyle Patterson and Michael Lewis, Football for Dummies, Wiley Publishing, Queensland, 2005. Paperback 392 pages. I did read this through, early in my soccer enthusiasm, and found it long-winded but helpful.

Keir Radnedge, SBS Complete Encyclopedia of Soccer, Hardie Grant Books, Victoria, 2002. Large first edition hardback 664 pages. Occasionally I've found this useful to look up the background of a club or famous player. Up to date until the Japan/Korea World Cup.

Jack Rollin, The Guinness Book of Soccer Facts and Feats, Guinness, 1978. First edition hardback with dustjacket 255 pages. Haven't looked at this much yet.

Johnny Warren and Andrew Dettre, Soccer in Australia, Paul Hamlyn, NSW, 1974. Haven't read this, but it appears to be an upbeat populist response after "Australia received an exhilarating boost with our leap to world status as participants in the finals of the 1974 World Cup." Sound familiar? It basically explains the game to a beginner Australian audience, with tips for parents, coaches etc as well as some history of the game in Australia.


Cath Crowley, The Life and Times of Cath Faltrain, Pan, Sydney, 2004. I enjoyed this, though I have as yet no other teen-chic-football literature to compare it with. Story of a teen soccer girl on an otherwise all-male team trying to "score the perfect goal... and the perfect boy."

Neil Montagnana and Mark Schwarzer, Megs and the Vootball Kids, Bounce Books, Australia, 2007. First edition paperback 192 pages. Good stuff for pre-teens, with many references to contemporary football and football action. Enjoyed it and have read it to Jacob. We're looking forward to the advertised sequel, Scarves, Sombreros and Diving Headers.

Dick Morland, Albion! Albion! Faber and Faber, London, 1986 (first 1974). Paperback 222 pages. A dystopian speculation from the 70s about England under the control of football clubs. A good, solid plot with some nasty political twists; not much to do with the game as such, but a very early and sour reflection on the direction of fan 'firms' in the UK.

Ted Prior, Grug Plays Soccer, Hodder and Stoughton, Sydney, 1988 (first 1985). Small paperback, 32 pages illustrated. Grug gets a soccer ball and plays a game with Cara the snake. Very silly really, for 2-4 year olds.


The Crawford Report, official inquiry into Australian soccer. This is on the net, and I'm not sure if it is otherwise published, but if it is I want it as it's very significant.

A Century of Great Soccer Drama, recommended by John from A Seat at the A-League.

Ken Bray, How to Score, mentioned by John - "about the science of strikers and probability of scoring from certain distances, set pieces etc."

Jimmy Burns, When Beckham Went to Spain: Power, Stardom and Real Madrid. Mentioned below by Alcuith. "More about Spanish fascism and Goldenballs."

Calcio, A History of Italian Football. Brought to my attention by Neil below.

Tony Cascarino, Full time: The Secret Life of Tony Cascarino. According to Alcuith below, "one of the true warts and all autobiographies."

Michael Cockerill, Australian Soccer's Long Road to the Top (1998). Brought to my attention by John (below). Mike says (below) that it's "a good overview of the Oz World Cup story."

John Foot, Calcio, mentioned by Neil in his review of Parks' Season With Verona, for a "wider understanding of the history of Italian football and its culture."

Brian Glanville, The Story of the World Cup, Faber & Faber, London. Glowingly reviewed by Mike over at The Football Tragic, this sounds like great reading. A First Edition (1966?) would be ideal, because apparently material is cut to make way for new material in later editions. I'm glad my attention has been brought to not only this book, but this author, who is prolific and it seems important.

Brian Glanville, Target Man, fiction, reviewed over at The Football Tragic. I'm very interested in recommendations for soccer fiction. There must be buckets of it but I haven't come across much yet.

Gary Jenkins, The Beautiful Team, about the Brazilians of the 1970 World Cup. Reviewed on The Football Tragic.

Ryszard Kapuscinski, The Soccer War. According to Alcuith below, "a first of it's kind." I've researched this one a bit and it's one I might hunt down on the net before too long. Sounds brilliant.

Joe McGinniss, The Miracle of Castel di Sangro, recommended below by Mike. Half way through it, Mike commented, "It's fascinating, although it stretches credibility to the limit at times."

Desmond Morris, The Soccer Tribe (1981). John (below) brought this to my attention and it sounds essential.

Tim Parks, A Season in Verona. Recommended by Guido of Rank and Vile. Sounds like excellent fan lit. Mike adds his recommendation in a comment below: "Although it's occasionally a bit cringeworthy (an Anglo-Italian academic desperately trying to get chummy with a bunch of borderline hoolies who seem to need some serious education in race relations), I'm always fascinated by books about the football kulcha in Italy. It's absolutely unique." Neil also adds his recommendation below: "It's a great insight into the psychology of a football fan and those who love their team with a passion. Well worth checking out." Most recently Neil glowingly reviewed the book on Victory in Melbourne.

David Peace, The Damned United, recommended below by Alcuith: "A fictional account of Cloughie's days at Leeds United. Excellent."

Charlie Perkins' autobiography. Mike says it's, "not a football book, but for that period in Oz football (60s-early 70s) (it's) a good read."

J Neville Turner, Football: The Pain and the Pleasure. Mentioned by Mike below.

Gianluca Vialli and Gabriele Marcotti, The Italian Job - A Journey to the Heart of Two Great Footballing Cultures. Recommended by Beppe, the Italian on our local team.