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Fathers, Sons and Football [Paperback]

Colin Shindler
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

29 April 2002
The Summerbee family is unique in that three successive generations have played professional football - George, the unsuccessful journeyman; Mike, who starred for Manchester City in their golden era; and now Nicky, who has played at the top level for City and Sunderland. Their careers have taken different paths, and the rewards have varied hugely, but in the end they all have to contend with disappointment and frustration. In this updated edition, Shindler skilfully shows how it affects them, and also how their families cope with the dramatic changes in mood and success, where a bad day at the office can result in tens of thousands of fans screaming abuse or a good day brings mass adoration.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Headline; New edition edition (29 April 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747232253
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747232254
  • Product Dimensions: 2.2 x 13.1 x 19.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 403,259 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

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 Hardcover edition.


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)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
The lot of the professional footballer has changed considerably over the years. In the 1930s, players travelled to matches on public transport and lived in council houses. In the 1960s and 1970s, the maximum wage had been abolished and star names could afford to live out in the suburbs. Now, the weekly earnings of top players far exceed the average annual British salary. All of these eras are covered in 'Fathers, Sons and Football', Colin Shindler's new book. It tells the story of three generations of the Summerbee family whose careers in the game have spanned seventy years to date.
Most famous is Mike Summerbee, a former England international well known for the success he achieved at Manchester City in the 1960s and 1970s. The modern era is represented by Nicky Summerbee, a Premiership player with Manchester City and Sunderland who won representative honours with England at under-21 and 'B' level. But at least as much of the text is devoted to Mike's father George, the founder of the dynasty. Summerbee senior was a journeyman professional whose big move from Aldershot to First Division Preston turned sour and who played out his career in the game's lower reaches with Chester and Barrow after the War.
This is a deeply impressive book and is made so precisely by its breadth of scope. The author, amongst other things, is a part-time history lecturer at Cambridge University so it's perhaps not surprising that he seeks to place events in their historical context, and these passages are sometimes lengthy - three or four pages on occasion. Thus George Summerbee's disappointments at Deepdale are seen against the backdrop of a Britain ravaged by economic depression and on the verge of war. Mike's early days at City are set against the furious social upheaval of the 1960s.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent stuff. 20 Nov 2002
As a Man City fan, a fan of social history and a fan of literature, this book addresses some of my core enthusiasms.
Thankfully, Schindler, as displayed in his debut work, is more than capable to handle this material sensitively, astutely and, on occasion, poetically.
As a snap-shot comparison of football and class across three generations it is heartbreaking. It also hardens those feelings that those lucky enough to be in the game now should appreciate the heritage of the game and the fortunate position they are in.
A page-turner and thought-provoker. I wish TalkSport listeners were given a copy before they were allowed on air.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Football - Not as easy as it looks 4 Aug 2010
By David L
I enjoyed this book and it made me think about how tough life as a footballer can be, even today. Sure, they are now paid tonnes of wonga but it's still a brutal reality that if you have a few duff games you'll be on the subs bench, then down in the reserves, then before much longer struggling to get on the pitch for Nowhere Utd's first team.
And that still must hurt and clearly, as this book shows, that leads to regret and disappointment. So, a bit like a normal nine to five then!
Also, whilst the book is about the Summerbee Players you realise how tough it must be to be a manager too. One moment managers are great for giving players chances, then they are demons for not playing the player.
I thought the book could have been a tad more sympathetic to some of the obviously good managers and good people who just had to drop one or other Summerbee because he wasn't quite good enough.
A well written and fun book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting look at the Summerbees 30 Jan 2013
By atticusfinch1048 TOP 1000 REVIEWER
This is a great examination of 3 generations of a footballing family. In this book you meet the Summerbee family one of whom would go on to play for England and Manchester City and a winner at all levels in Mike Summerbee, his father a journeyman football and Mike's son Nikey who like Mike played for Manchester City.

This is a wonderful account of the footballing family and that it isn't all about the money but the love of the game and the love for the Summerbee family. A must read for all those with an interest in football and Manchester City.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Book On Football I've Read ..... 4 July 2008
By ianb
This book is the best book on football I've ever read and I've read a fair few over the years. It is a fascinating look at a true footballing family and their experiences set against the changing times and society of the 20th century. The sheer scope is an achievement in itself. Buy it you will not be disappointed. I read it in a week - couldn't put it down!
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