On the second day of Christmas….The best book

On the second day of Christmas my true love sent to me…a few books to bring on the beach by the sea”

If last year saw some classic new titles, then 2011 saw the competition really hot up.  I read some poor books (no names), some mediocre books (no names) and some excellent books such as Daniel Harris’s On The Road and Jonathan Wilson’s Nobody Ever Says Thank You, which is the best biography of Brian Clough I have read. To pick three that were above all others was a difficult choice but these are the ones I have enjoyed the most and have no problem recommending them to others.

I have of course ruled out my own Dripping Yarns from this, although it is by far and away the best football read of the year.

3rd Place – 32 Programmes – Dave Roberts
The follow up from his incredibly successful Bromley Boys, which is now being made into a film, Roberts focuses on the games, or should I say match day programmes that have defined various stages of his life.  A football equivalant of HIgh Fidelity this is a rollercoaster of emotions as we get a tour through Roberts adolescence right the way through to his recent life and the problems he has had.  It will make you laugh out loud and may even make you cry.  But as with all of Dave’s books, they come from his heart and this is a really great read.

2nd Place – 92 Pies – Tom Dickinson
I am a bit biased on this one as I have known Tom for a few years and actively encouraged him to pursue his dream of a book of his incredible tale of where he managed to eat a pie at every single Football/Premier League ground in one season, and was overjoyed when he joined the Blackline Press couch along with myself.  But this isn’t just about the 92 pies, it is about a season in football.  The highs and lows of trying to get to games, relying on public transport, friends and relatives.  It is about one man with a mission, who never doubted he would fail in his task.  Superbly written and a book that will keep you engaged from page one.

1st Place – There’s a Golden Sky – Ian Ridley
Ian is one of the good guys in football.  He has written a number of books about the game, ranging from a couple of “co-written” autobiographies as well as the excellent warts and all account of his time as chairman of Weymouth FC.  But this book, his exploration of the game at all levels of the English game, tops the lot.  Premier League, football league, non league, Sunday league and the women’s game all get Ridley’s attention and he explores characters in depth such as Gazza.  If you only buy one football book this year, make it this one.

Win a copy of this masterpiece

Ever since a preview copy landed through our letter box was have been waxing lyrical about Dave Robert’s latest publication, 32 Programmes.  Well, thanks to those nice chaps at Transworld we have two copies of the book to give away FREE OF CHARGE.  Yep, free of tax, priority boarding fees, fuel levies, credit card fees and any strange donations.  Heck, we will even pay the postage (well, the work franking machine will).  You can read a review of the book here.

To win one of the two copies all you need to do is go to In Bed With Maradona’s fantastic website and read the piece we wrote about The Civil Service football team and their FA Cup tie against Bromley from 1971which is one of Dave’s 32 Programmes.  Then simply send us an email (TBIR at gmx.co.uk) with the title Civil Service and tell us the answer to this simple question:-

“How many goals did Bromley score in the FA Cup match mentioned?”

The winners will be drawn by our magic number generator at 12pm on Monday 26th September.  Good Luck, and if you don’t win then you can pick up a copy of the book here.

Growing pains

I fail to believe that anyone who reads Dave Robert’s new book 32 Programmes cannot relate to his thinking as a football fan.  It traces his life as a football fan through 32 chapters in his life, going into the bitter-sweet details of growing up in the 1970s and ’80s via 32 football matches.

Roberts had always been a programme collecter, every since his father took him to see his first match, Fulham versus Manchester United in the 1960s.  From that day until 2002 he built up a collection of over 1,100 programmes.  However, life has a habit of throwing spanners in the works and so he is forced to chose just 31 to take with him in his new life in the US.  This chronicles his choices.

Building on and around his first book, The Bromley Boys (soon to be released as a film, no less), Dave introduces us to his career, his attempts to find a soul mate and finally in a twist his life changing circumstances that will have you reaching for a tissue.

The book includes a visit to Denis Law’s house as a teenager, bunking off work and ultimately getting the sack to watch West Ham (proof that he really is mad), the awkward moment of taking a girlfriend (or three) to their first football match, and the intimidating atmosphere of games in the 1980s.

Some of the matches still live in our memories today.  The “Three Degrees” demolition by West Bromwich Albion of Manchester United in the late 1970s, the England victory over Hungary at Wembley to take us to the World Cup Finals in 1982 and bizarre FA Cup game in 1971 between Bromley and Civil Service.

His final chapter, number 32 in his list details his return to England for a visit in 2008 to see his family after many years away as well as a trip back to Hayes Lane to see his beloved Bromley play in the FA Cup.

If you read one new book on your holidays this summer, chose this one. And then you try and detail 10, let alone 32, games that mark the milestones in your life.

32 Programmes is published by Bantom Press and available from early August 2011 from Amazon amongst other places.