Despite living in the digital age, we still love occasionally having a saunter down to the TBIR Arms, enjoying a comfy armchair by the fire and reading a decent book. This year we’ve seen quite a few that have tickled our fancy and are certainly on our recommended list. In fact at the moment we have three on the go, interchanging between them as we jolly-well like. Two of our winners should be familiar to you , but the best book we read this year will hit you like a bolt from the blue. Oh, and before you rush to think The Football Tourist is in the list, we obviously excluded that despite its winning attributes.
3rd Place – The Numbers Game – Chris Anderson and David Sally
I love stats, random facts and the numerical explanation and this book by Anderson and Sally goes nuts deep into the explanations for some myths in football. The opening chapters about Stoke City’s success at long throw-ins and why other teams haven’t copied it explains a lot (I also have some insight from a former Pulis throw-in specialist to back this up), the dispelling of the commentators favourite saying about being vulnerable after scoring a goal will have you shouting at the TV in future and statistical comparisons over years of European data gives the research authenticity. Well worth a read.
2nd Place – The Nowhere Men – Michael Calvin
In the past twelve months I have taken on a new role with Lewes FC, in addition to the half a dozen unpaid ones I already had. I’ve become head of Scouting for London and North Thames, which basically means I get to watch our forthcoming opposition standing in the pouring rain alongside a few dozen other people. Nobody understands the loneliness of the job until now. Calvin’s book focuses on the role of player scouts but conveys the desperation and unthanking role these individuals play in the footballing jigsaw. It is a brilliant insight, a back-stage tour of football at all levels of our game. Definitely one to pick up and enjoy.
1st Place – The Report from the 1962 World Cup – Jeffrey, Smith & Becker
After a ten mile walk from Richmond to Hampton a few weeks ago we literally stumbled into a pub in Hampton High Street for a well deserved pint or three. Whilst the Man City Arsenal game was captivating the rest of the pub, my eyes were drawn to the charity bookshelves and one old dark red bound book. I picked it up and fell in love. It was the OFFICIAL story of the 1962 Chilean World Cup. No FIFA spin, no advertising blurb, just a story, day by day of the first World Cup to be properly broadcast by domestic TV. It was the World Cup that brought us the Battle of Santiago between the host nation and Chile, which the late David Coleman described as “The most stupid, appalling, disgusting and disgraceful exhibition of football, possibly in the history of the game”. Paying £10 for such a brilliant book would have been a steal, but this cost me £1 (ONE). Best. Self. Present. Ever
Tomorrow – The worst new ground visited