In Fathers, Sons and Football
Colin Shindler, Manchester City fan and author of the bestselling Manchester United Ruined My Life
, tells the funny, engaging story behind the unique footballing treble of one of Maine Road's favourite families--the Summerbees. Grandfather, father and son each became professional players and Shindler reflects on their careers, family life and the changing face of football and Britain from the 1930s to the present day.
Of these three footballing Summerbees, father Mike--England and Man City in his heyday--was by far the biggest star. Enough to have been George Best's best man and in his pomp a robust, rampaging outside right who delighted fans on the pitch and for a time lived a full-on 1960s superstar life off it. Grandfather George was a journeyman player, struggling to scrape out a career amongst the game's also-rans. Mike took the Summerbees into the big time. It was left to son Nicky to carry the mantle into the modern era.
The signing of Nicky Summerbee ... seemed to suggest that a second version of the glory years for City was just around the corner. Manchester would soon echo to the sound of rival chants as the two clubs battled for the status of top dog ... Only Tina Summerbee had the foresight to dismiss all this as nothing but the fantasies of vainglorious men. Of course, by her own admission, she was a woman who knew nothing about the game.
In the end of course Mum knew best, the return of a Summerbee to Maine Road coincided with failure, for both club and player, but the extraordinary Summerbee story goes on and Nicky is in the Premiership again.
The book is funny, as you might expect from Shindler, but the underlying subject is approached thoughtfully and intelligently. Even glamorous football families harbour secrets and conflicts, as well as elements of the charmingly idiosyncratic, or surprisingly mundane and while Shindler's love for the game and genuine affection for the Summerbees fill every page, this seems a much more journalistic work than Manchester United Ruined My Life. Clear-sighted observations on the economic realities of playing football for a living; the whims of fans, chairmen and managers; the tensions that arise when fathers and sons share a trade which is also their passion all enrich this family chronicle and mark this book out as worthy successor to Shindler's 1998 bestseller. --Alex Hankin
--This text refers to the
Unusual but excellent ... Compelling stuff. The football book of the year, perhaps. (Richard Whitehead, The Times
Amusing and candid and throws a bit of light on the dysfunctional nature of many in the beautiful game (Martin Chilton, Evening Standard
A readable account of a traumatic journey through the realignment of the classes (Chris Maume, Independent
He is particularly good on evoking the atmosphere of provincial England ... An enjoyable and informative book (Leo McKinstry, Sunday Telegraph
Brilliantly written and outstandingly researched ... Surely the best book written about the beautiful game this year (Matt Donlan, Yorkshire Evening Post
Evocative and atmospheric, it serves as a mordant reminder that the Glory Game can also be a deeply tawdry game (Chris Maume, Independent
A fascinating study into footballing life and an interesting social comment on the impact of the sport as a whole (Matthew Dunn, Express on Sunday
A fascinating book (Paul Connolly, The Times
Riveting ... [a] cult classic (Sentinel