Where Are They Now? - Rediscovering Over 100 Football Stars of the 70s and 80s by Matt Allen
|Where Are They Now? - Rediscovering Over 100 Football Stars of the 70s and 80s by Matt Allen|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: A very compelling little gift book for the armchair footie buff.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 256||Date: September 2007|
This looks like some people's worst idea of a book, ever. Trivia, nostalgia, football, and lists - does it get more masculine? There's not a female in sight, either, as we get 101 portraits of footballers from times past, and most importantly, a summary of their career since hanging up the boots in the professional game.
The format is simple - a full page pic, and a full page of info for everyone involved, with brief resume, footballing history, and the pertinent history since. We get recognisable legends, history makers in their club or in the league entire, or people who flashed in the pan for a moment then disappeared through poor decisions, poor management, or poor tackling.
But it's the closing details for every man Jack (Steve, Neil, Imre...) that make the heart of the book. It's a question of 'who'd have thought!', as we meet not just commentators, non-league managers, or footballer union reps, but hoteliers, recruiters for seasonal farm workers, Bermudan prison guards, newsagents...
Reading them all they seem comprehensively random, but patterns do emerge. Viv Anderson gets recognised by London cabbies - but then Micky Hazard IS one. Two fell in love with the outdoors, all-weathers aspects of our national sport enough to be postmen - a third has already left that career. Autobiographies aside (and part of the point of this book is to herald those players from the times before everyone had a book ghosted of their life by the time they were 20) two have had books with their names on - although this is not *that* Danny Wallace, and Luther Blissett didn't have any say in the matter, when Italian anarcho-syndicalists picked his name for their pseudonym.
To the book's detriment are a few instances of where more checks were needed - dates at the top of the page don't tally with those at the foot; I don't know why Brian Moore gets a shoe-in; and there seems no order whatsoever. Also, how can you you have Chris Waddle without Hoddle, and either way not mention their sideline in the pop charts?
But there's a lot that is not mentioned, and the book is only the better for it. We hardly see word of a red card, or violence on the terraces, or abject failure. This is a summary of success, and as such is one of the happiest, most positive football books to choose from. Yes there are a couple of prisoners in these pages, but everyone seems happy with much of their lot, whether in property or in hairdressing.
This was new for the start of the 2007 football season, but never read to me as being out of date, so I think it should be snapped up before it does gain the inaccuracy of old age. I had a great time harking back to my youth - there are players here we'll never see the likes of again, more's the pity - Bruce Grobbelaar just one. It felt like suddenly finding the Rubik's Cube very easy - having a flashback with added hindsight to my youth as a footie fan.
We at the Bookbag recommend it heartily. A further trivia book that widens the playing field to other sports is Sport: Almost Everything You Ever Wanted To Know by Tim Harris.
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