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Between the Sticks
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Even when I first got interested in football in 1968, Sheffield United's goalkeeper Alan Hodgkinson was regarded as a veteran so it came as something of a surprise to learn that it was only last year, 2012, when he finally retired. Granted, he had not played since 1971, but in the ensuing years Hodgkinson established himself as not only the first but probably the most highly respected goalkeeping coach in the business. Because his playing career ended over forty years ago it is highly likely that most modern day supporters will have never heard of Alan Hodgkinson (excepting those of Sheffield United, where he remains a legendary figure) and would therefore not consider reading his book. This is their loss though, because as football autobiographies go, Between the Sticks is a gem.

Because most of the events in this book occurred back in the fifties and sixties this is largely a nostalgic look back at a time when football was an entirely different game than the one played today. Hodgkinson was a one club man, and because the one club was the highly unfashionable Sheffield United, you could be forgiven for assuming that his autobiography would be on the dull side. In actual fact though, Between the Sticks is anything but dull; although the style of writing is often overly descriptive and therefore a little dated, this is still a hugely entertaining read.

Alan Hodgkinson had a good playing career. Picked up from non league Worksop Town, he fashioned himself into being one of the best goalkeepers in the country, unlucky to play only five times for England, although he was a squad member at both the 1958 and 1962 World Cups. Some of the stories from his seventeen years at Sheffield United are belters which serve to illustrate how different football was in those days. I particularly enjoyed reading about when, after winning promotion to the then Division One, the players were told they would be rewarded with something for "a rainy day". Expecting a nice financial bonus, some of the players discussed which cars they would buy only to find that their reward was a raincoat and a barometer! As he approached the end of his playing days Hodgkinson realised that whilst being a goalkeeper was a specialist role there were no specialised goalkeeping coaches, a gap in the market that he went on to fill after he was released by Sheffield United. It was therefore he who invented the role of goalkeeping coach and went on to introduce many of the guidelines followed in world football.

This is a book that would be enjoyed by all football enthusiasts and loved by Sheffield United followers in particular.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 6 June 2013
This book is not just for blades/Sheffield United supporters, it has something for everyone who loves football. I waited months for this book and I was not disappointed. I never got to see the best keeper Sheffield United ever produced and bought for a bargain 3 piece suit from Worksop town but along with Joe Shaw and Jimmy Hagan, Hodgy is spoken of with love, affection and as a legend. The only disappointment is finding out the disgraceful way he was treated when he had his first testimonial....excellent read, fully recommend it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 9 June 2013
very good read even if you don't follow Sheffield United. Interesting account of a club legend and also the first goalkeeping coach to be employed in English football. AH comes over as a lovely guy without any of the bitterness you sometimes get from old pros who missed out on the money that is now in the game.
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on 25 January 2015
For once a intelligent autobiography about someone has had a life, and has something to write about. His attic or garage must be a real Aladdin's cave with all the memorabilia he seems to have collected over the years even the inspirational talks from managers. Alan writes about the changes, but accepts that they exist, and goes so far as to state that the game has changed, but that it is no worse or better. For a player who only ever played professional football for one club he has lots of memories to stir-travelling on the train-playing Christmas Day-minimum wage-managers and trainers-the wet sponge being the panacea for any injury.
This is a good read for those who like a little nostalgia and to be reminded of players long gone, but manages to connect with the present by Alan Hodgkinson's continual connection with his goal-keepers academy, and links with the game to-day.
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on 24 July 2015
A really enjoyable book, written by one of the many honest, hard working, but highly talented footballers from the 1950s and 1960s. Alan Hodgkinson had a very successful career with Sheffield United and England, and on retirement as a player had a second successful, and groundbreaking, career as a goalkeeping coach. This is an extremely well written and entertaining autobiography, which I found very hard to put down! As another reviewer has said, this is not just for the Blades fans, but for any lover of the beautiful game. Highly recommended!
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on 28 September 2013
Hodgey provides a fascinating insight into life as a professional footballer from the 1950's to 1970's. Not only is it a comprehensive history of SUFC over this period but it's a great read for all football fans, not just Blades supporters. He shares some lessons for sportsmen that are equally important for life in general.
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on 23 September 2013
As a football fan and especially one who has followed Sheffield United since the early 60's it was great to relive some of the good years we had back then in the First Division. More than that though it's a great insight into Alan's technical abilities and to hear of his exploits after Sheffield United.
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on 17 July 2014
Very interesting with some lovely anecdotes which should please anyone who likes their football. I am not a Sheffield United supporter but thoroughly enjoyed reading Alan's memories of a life in football and coaching. Some of the things that happened to him still make me smile or writhe in indignation.
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on 20 July 2015
I really enjoyed this book, it is written with refreshing openness and modesty. I had no idea Alan Hodgkinson has played such an important role in developing careers of so many internationally known goalkeepers. He writes of his own career most entertainingly and informatively.
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on 18 October 2013
For anybody who grew up watching football m the 1960s this book will bring back a lot of memories. My only disappointment was with what I felt was a missing chapter dealing with the World Cup in the summer of 1958 and the 1958/59 season.
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