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Big Mal: The High Life and Hard Times of Malcolm Allison, Football Legend Paperback – 3 Sep 2009

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Big Mal: The High Life and Hard Times of Malcolm Allison, Football Legend + The Worst of Friends: The Betrayal of Joe Mercer + Clough and Revie: The Rivals Who Changed the Face of English Football
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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Mainstream Publishing (3 Sept. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845964780
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845964788
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 106,092 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

David Tossell has been a sports journalist for more than three decades. Currently head of European Public Affairs for the NFL (National Football League) and former Executive Sports Editor of the Today newspaper, he is the author of 13 sports books. Five of his books have been short-listed in the British Sports Book Awards - Bertie Mee (Best Biography, 2006); Grovel! (Best Cricket Book, 2008); Nobody Beats Us (Best Rugby Book, 2010); Tony Greig (Best Cricket Book, 2012) and The Great English Final (Best Football Book, 2014). He has also been short-listed twice for MCC/Cricket Society Book of the Year.
He has written books on football, cricket, rugby and American football.
Twitter: @David_Tossell

Product Description

Review

"A lovingly researched and sensitively written book which serves as an important parable of our football times" (Jeff Powell Daily Mail)

"An excellent, serious and penetrating biography" (Hugh MacDonald Glasgow Herald)

"An excellent, thoughtful biography . . . However melancholy, it is quite a story, and Tossell tells it well from beginning to sad end" (When Saturday Comes)

"A penetrating account of [Allison's] life and career . . . Tossell is an accomplished writer . . . a thorough and entertaining biography" (The Independent on Sunday)

"Tossell has done an excellent job capturing every facet of Allison's personality in this engaging, often very funny, portrait" (Yorkshire Evening Post)

Review

An excellent, serious and penetrating biography. Read it and laugh. And weep. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By P. J. Clare on 16 Dec. 2009
Format: Paperback
I have to be honest; as a lifelong Manchester City fan I read this book with some bias. I was six when the Mercer and Allison years started at Maine Road and the following four years would embed my football loyalties for life. The kids of today are bombarded with modern day televised football, in the late sixties I had my Father; he would tell me all I ever needed to know about City and Malcolm Allison.

What I didn't know was the before and after story, how Allison suffered from tuberculosis bringing his playing career to an end, his influence on a young Bobby Moore and later on Peter Taylor and his links with the likes of Clough and Revie. This book offers a fascinating insight into a coach who was without doubt ahead of his time. Loved and respected by many, loathed by others Allison was both a master tactician and loose cannon. Transferring his talents as a coach into management however, often proved a step too far. Whatever your feelings toward Allison himself this book is a fantastic read for any football fan but definitely those of a certain era. Somewhere along the line a memory will be sparked by the events surrounding this flawed genius.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Nick CC on 25 Jun. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Whether modern sportsmen want to admit it or not, there are no characters in sport these days. The financial rewards on offer in professional sport as a result of TV revenues and sponsorship ensure that sportsmen have to toe the party line, and mustn't say anything controversial. Never has this been more evident to me when watching the current World Cup and listening to inane drivel from the likes of Lineker and Shearer. Go back to 1970 during the World Cup in Mexico where ITV introduced their first "Panel", which included Malcolm Allison. Allison was controvesial in this role, referring to the Soviet and Romanian players as "Peasants", and criticising England's Alan Mullery mercilessly, which lead to a confrontation in the TV studio between them on Mullery's return from Mexico. Imagine Lineker, Southgate or Shearer having a pop at Lampard or Gerrard leading to a confrontation going out live on TV later? It wouldn't happen. The game is crying out for people like Allison who wore his heart on his sleeve and called it as he saw it. This is a very well researched and very well written book which reveals the "warts and all" character of Big Mal. There are far too many stories and anecdotes to reveal here, but I would highly recommend this book, which is one of the most entertaining sports biographies I've ever read. I have to say that unlike the previous reviewer, I'm not even a Manchester City fan, or Crystal Palace. Whoever you support, this is a book that will give you plenty of enjoyment and have you laughing and crying. That's what football (and sport in general) lacks these days - someone to ENGAGE with the public and make them think. Excellent.
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By Bantam Dave TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 25 Feb. 2011
Format: Paperback
In years to come it is highly likely that Malcolm Allison will become just another name in footballs long and eventful history. For anybody who was around during his heyday though Allison will never be forgotten, because as well as being a brilliant coach he was also an irrepressible character. Pick up any daily newspaper in the eighties and you would be just as likely to find a story about his latest exploits on the front page as well as you would the back. Usually seen puffing on a big cigar, he led the lifestyle of a playboy and, because he was always good for an outrageous quote he was like manna from heaven for any journalist looking for a storyline. For a while Allison was one of footballs favourite `loveable rogues'.

At his peak he was probably the best coach in the world. Alongside Joe Mercer he built Manchester City into one of Britain's finest teams in the late 60's. His innovative ideas and training methods helped bring out the best out of the players and City seemed set to be in the ascendancy for years to come; unfortunately that all came to an abrupt end when we first found out that whilst he was an amazing coach, Allison was an absolutely terrible manager. Echoing the situation with Gordon Brown & Tony Blair three decades later (except that Gordon Brown has probably never worn a fedora or romped with a naked porn star in the House of Commons bath), Joe Mercer had led Allison to believe that a few years in the future he would step aside to allow Allison to become manager. When this Mercer failed to stand down Allison took matters into his own hands and finally landed his dream job. Unfortunately without the guiding hand of Mercer being around to curve his excesses the rot wasn't long in setting in and City started to drift down the league table.
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Format: Paperback
Malcolm Allison was an average footballer in the drab Fifties. His playing career cut short by tuberculosis, he became a trail-blazing and innovative coach and manager in the swinging Sixties.

Flamboyant with a capital F, he became a celebrity in the `Life on Mars' Seventies and morphed into `Big Mal', a larger-than-life, outspoken, womanising, gambler - profligate with both money and champagne.

A permanent fixture on ITV's football shows, articulate (some would say big-mouthed), tall, tanned and good-looking with a ready smile, Allison was made for television.

His lifestyle took its toll. Big Mal could not replicate the footballing success of the young, pre-celeb Allison. The money and blondes gone, alcoholism sadly brought on dementia to cloud his final years.

David Tossell, a writer with a proven pedigree in sports' books, has produced a balanced, insightful and sympathetic biography of a genial bon-viveur, disastrous family man, and genuine football legend.
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