THE people at Pitch Publishing (www.pitchpublishing.co.uk) continue to put out great books on a wide range of football (and other sporting) subjects. There’s everything from one-club specials to a history of the World Cup’s first 60 years among this month’s selection so let’s see what’s on offer.
60 YEARS OF THE WORLD CUP By Brian Barwick O B E
As a producer and executive at both the BBC and ITV, Brian Barwick helped bring the World Cup into millions of homes. Then later, as CEO of the Football Association he was responsible for a number of England’s appearance in the globe’s biggest football tournament.
For Barwick It all began back in 1962 when the then 8-year-old was fascinated as he followed events in South America as Brazil claimed the crown for the second successive time. Four years later, after seeing greats Pele and Eusebio live in action at Goodison Park he watched on television as Bobby Moore and England claimed the trophy.
Barwick was hooked and from then on he has watched every tournament, many of the matches in person, as is in a unique position to look back at how the game has evolved and developed in the past six decades.
60 years of the World Cup is Barwick’s story of his journey through that time and is packed with fascinating tales from a man who got closer to the action than most of us will ever get the chance to experience.
If you have an interest in Global Football but also want to read some great personal anecdotes on the game at the very top level, 60 Years of the World Cup is definitely the book for you.
THE FORGOTTEN CUP By Jo Araf
Before the Champions League and Europa League, before the European Cup, Cup Winners’ Cup and UEFA Cup (and Inter-Cities Fairs Cup) there was another competition for Europe’s elite. The fact that English clubs didn’t compete means that it might have passed many fans from these shores by but the Mitropa Cup was the tournament that set the path.
Author Jo Araf brings the Mitropa Cup back to life in this comprehensive history of the tournament which ran from 1927-1940 and was the forerunner (or Mother as Araf calls it) to all of those competitions mentioned above.
The greatest names in inter-war football took part in the tournament. Men who are now legends of the game such as Bela Guttmann, Matthias Sindelaar and the goalscoring machine that was Josef Biscan featured strongly in the Mitropa Cup and all are prominent in Arif’s fascinating account of a competition whose place in football club history should never be understated.
1977/78. A HISTORIC SEASON FOR RANGERS FC AND A TREBLE THAT ENDED AN ERA By David Herd
The 1977/78 campaign was a key one for Rangers. With skipper John Grieg approaching the end of a long and illustrious career and with the mercurial Jock Wallace at the helm, the Glasgow giants swept all before them, capturing the three domestic trophies on offer.
Author David Herd looks at the campaign in detail and sees a pivotal campaign for both the club and Scottish football in general. With local rivals Celtic generally struggling it was Aberdeen, led by ex-hoops legend Billy McNeill, who emerged as the biggest threat.
Led by 38 goals from Scottish Footballer of the Year Derek Johnstone and with newcomer Davie Cooper, signed from Clydebank for £100,000, beginning an Ibrox career that would see him become a legend among Ger’s fans, Rangers saw off their Northern rivals by two points and also overcame them in the Scottish Cup whilst, goals from Cooper and a another newcomer, Gordon Smith, earned a 2-1 success over Celtic in the League Cup final.
The summer of 1978 saw big changes at the club with Wallace being replaced by Greig as boss and it would be almost ten years before the club, by then with Graeme Souness at the helm, would return to the pinnacle of Scottish football.
David Herd’s is a comprehensive and interesting look back at a huge season for Rangers that marked the end of an era.
DUTCH MASTERS By Gary Thacker
Different eras in football have seen different clubs, and indeed styles, dominate the game. But few if any can have been more exciting than the Ajax team of the early 1970s.
Gary Thacker’s interesting and entertaining book takes us through that era, when Rinus Michels, Johann Cruyff and co. brought ‘Totaalvoetbal’ to the world.
The author looks at the development of the Amsterdam side along with the revolutionary ‘new’ style that they played. But what exactly is Total Football? And is it only achievable when you have geniuses like Michels to teach it, and Cruyff, along with Johan Neeskens to carry it out?
Dutch Masters is a great book, looking at a club who bucked the big-spending trend and showed that new ideas, and new stars, will always emerge.
FEAR AND LOATHING AT GOODISON PARK By Lou Reed Foster
When David Moyes took over from the fired Walter Smith as Everton manager towards the end of the 2001/2002 season the club were hovering just above the relegation zone, having falling a long way since their glory years of the 1980s.
Moyes, brought in from Preston, steered the team to safety and by the end of the following campaign, he had restored the Toffees to the upper reaches of the top flight and captured the Manager of the Year award.
After a difficult second season for Moyes, the club sold star asset Wayne Rooney (who later unsuccessfully tried to sue his former manager) and went on to establish themselves as a regular fixture near the top of the table without ever really threatening to take the title.
The Scot finally left the club to succeed Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United in 2013 it can be safely said that the move didn’t work out for anyone. One disappointing season at Old Trafford saw Moyes fired whilst since his departure the Toffees have appointed 12 men to run the club (four on an interim basis) and have often seemed to be lurching from one crisis to another.
Fear And Loathing At Goodison Park looks back fondly on a decade that included Champions League qualification and a cup final appearance as author Lou Reed Foster wonders whether ‘The People’s Club will ever return to the elite in the game.
WHEN DAVE WENT UP By Gary Jordan
There have been few more improbable F. A. Cup wins than the one achieved by Wimbledon in 1988 when the ‘Crazy Gang’ of South West London took on and beat Liverpool’s ‘Culture Club’ thanks to a Lawrie Sanchez goal.
At the time the win was portrayed as a shock triumph for a rag-tag XI against the heavily-favoured, classy Merseysiders. Time went on to prove that this was a much better wide than given credit for with numerous players sold for big fees and going on to become internationals.
‘When Dave Went Up’ looks not just at the final but the whole cup run which saw The Dons make it to Wembley thanks to wins over West Bromwich Albion, Mansfield Town, Newcastle United, Watford and Luton Town, a run where they found the net 13 times.
The book also looks back on Wimbledon’s history in the World’s oldest cup competition with focus on the famous 1974/75 run by the then-Southern League team who succumbed by a solitary goal in a 4th Round replay against the mighty Leeds United.
‘When Dave Went Up’ is a must for any Wimbledon fan, a group who have seen their side suffer any number of problems since those heady days, and also for anyone who loves a good underdog story (and who doesn’t?)
All of these titles are available from the Pitch Publishing website (www.pitchpublishing.co.uk) or on Amazon, or wherever good football books are sold.