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In and out of the Lion's Den: poverty, war and football [Kindle Edition]

Julie Ryan
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)

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Book Description

When 20 year old John Shepherd scored four goals on his debut for Millwall in a Third Division South league match against Leyton Orient in October 1952, he not only equalled the national record for an away match debut which has never been surpassed, he also launched a footballing career which saw him go on to score prolifically for Millwall, Brighton & Hove Albion and Gillingham. But this successful professional career almost never happened: he had spent much of 1951 in hospital, struck down by polio. The remarkable story of how John Shepherd overcame this debilitating setback, and how he launched and progressed his career in the £14 a week days of the 1950s professional footballer, is told with searching perception by his daughter Julie Ryan in a new biography and family history. In and Out of the Lion`s Den vividly evokes that post-war footballing era, when the players would be travelling to the ground on the same trains and buses as the fans, and where their wives and girlfriends waited for them afterwards outside the ground. The book also reveals a much deeper back- story to this footballer`s life. For once the aspiring young man from Notting Hill had met and fallen in love with Esther Gonzalez at the Seventh Feathers Youth Club in North Kensington, he was to marry into a family who had been refugees from the Spanish Civil War. The moving story of their survival from the Lion`s Den of Franco`s fascism - altogether more savage and devastating than Millwall`s footballing version - is a poignant counterpoint to the trials and tribulations which John`s own family had endured through the Depression of the 1930s and the dark days of the Blitz in the Second World War. This book is a wonderful evocation of football in the 1950s – the story of a `Roy of the Rovers` footballing hero who could not have been more different from the highly trained and paid professionals of today ; but it is also a richly detailed portrayal of working class life of that time and the war-torn decades which led up to it, both in England and in Spain. It is a `must read` for all true football fans – especially those in London and the south east of England. But it is also a tour de force for those interested in the wider social, economic and political forces which shaped that era, as an intimate account of the consequences and impact of those forces on this legendary `lion` and his family.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3786 KB
  • Print Length: 332 pages
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #389,568 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Julie Ryan was born in London in 1957. A year later her footballing father, John Shepherd, was transferred from Millwall to Brighton & Hove Albion, causing her family to move to the south coast which is where she grew up. For many years she worked as an administrator for the University of Gloucestershire. She currently lives near Lausanne in Switzerland. 'In and out of the Lion's Den: Poverty, war and football' is her first book.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars In and out of the lions den 19 Mar. 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is superb although I am slightly biased as i lived in London through the blitz (evacuated twice) and am an ardent Gillingham supporter.
It seems like I am reading my own life story but I could never write it as well as Julie Ryan has done for her father.
Humerous,very sad in places especially in the section of the book relating to the Spanish civil war (but Julie is very fair to both sides in that awful conflict despite the effect it had on her grandparents) and I can still remember my own father telling me about the time the Royal Navy took many refugees out of Barcelona to the relative safety of the Ballearic Islands.
Also I remember the sad story of Jeff Hall as well and if my memory serves me right we all stopped going to swimming pools as it was thought then that it was a likely source of polio.
Sorry to digress but returning to the book it is a fitting and well detailed tribute to John an excellent footballer and family man and although I have not quite finished the book yet I have enyoyed every page even if the print is a bit on the small side.
Do another book Julie ,you are a natural.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read. 20 Feb. 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have just returned from a 5 day trip to Rome, I took this book with me to read. I have to say that I couldn't put it down, during the day we were out seeing the sights of Rome, it was absolutely brilliant to come back to the Hotel knowing that I had such a good book to pick up again. I am a football fan & I was born 2 streets away from where John Shepherd was born, it was fascinating reading about the area which I grew up in, in such vivid detail, I remember a lot of what the area was like as I was born in 1948.
The other aspect of this book which I found very enlightening was Julie Ryans Grandfathers recollections of the Spanish Civil War, I was never taught anything about this at school, & this book reminded me of the struggles that the Spanish people & sympathisers went through, maybe this should be introduced into schools in this day & age.
I highly recommend this book to all people who like a good read, hope you enjoy it as much as I have.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Having a love of both Sports Biographies and History thought I would give this a whirl especially as the man is also a Brighton Legend. What a fantastic book!!
FOOTBALL was covered with detail to keep the "stato." happy while the Social History and smell of the terraces also jumped off the page.
THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR is an area where I have read a number of dedicated books. This book managed to break down its key elements to inform and support this heartrending and miraculous (the death rate in this war was huge) story without slowing it down. Again the story was a fantastic social History.
I nearly gave it only four stars because John Shepherd is wearing a Millwall strip on the cover! However take heart Brighton supporters as an old pot of tippex is all that is needed to add the stripes needed to gain the full five stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a cracking book, capturing the feel of a ... 25 Oct. 2014
What a cracking book, capturing the feel of a bygone and much missed age in football, together with a gripping narrative from the Spanish Civil War. Julie Ryan's description of London in the early to mid fifties reminded me of early childhood and her accounts of her father's early games at the Den brought back memories of my own first football match, at the Den in 1965-1966, taken by my Grandfather. Reading of John Shepherd chatting with fans on the tube on his way to the game must be strange to younger readers, brought up on the monetary excesses of the Premier League era. Exciting though the football memories are, it is the war in Spain, the years of the blitz in London and how these conflicts were so important to the Shepherd family that makes it such a fascinating and 'feel good' book.
Julian Tarrant
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A really enlightening book. I am so pleased that I own a copy. It brought back so many fond memories about the area of your fathers youth, and also taught me a lot about the Spanish Civil War, of which I knew very little. Thank you for giving me a great read Julie, your father I am sure is very proud of your achievement. Tishy Kensal Town
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant book, well written and researched 24 Oct. 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A brilliant book, well written and researched. Football from a by-gone era. Fascinating insight not only into John Shepherd early life and career but also his parents and his wife Esther's family in Spain during the Spanish Civil War. Although I've followed Millwall since I was about 11 years old any football fan, especially from the older generation, will find this book an enjoyable read. The book is also decorated by some marvellous photos.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Back to the good old days 4 Feb. 2013
A fabulous insight into the past of professional footballer John Shepherd. This is a well thought out and extemely well wrtten book highlighting when football was played for sport, not money. A journey back in time to how life in London used to be and the dramatic life of a footballer who beat the odds. If you are a proper football fan, this book is a must for your collection. Excellent!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fantastic Story 22 Mar. 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is well written and it means so much to my family and I. We were brought up in North Kensington W10 and knew John Shepherd and his family. We would like to thank Julie Ryan for writing this very interesting book and bringing back a few memories.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars love to get in touch by e-mail Not only a ...
love to get in touch by e-mail

Not only a good football book but an education on emigration benefits to UK

great family stiry
Published 3 months ago by john robert smith
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
good read
Published 7 months ago by susan
5.0 out of 5 stars In and out of the Lion's Den: poverty, war and football.
An inspiring book which I found difficult to put down. I hope one day it will be recognised by a film producer.
Published 16 months ago by Trevor Edwards
5.0 out of 5 stars It was a prsent for someone else
This was a present for someone else, so I cant, review it. From what I have read at the back of the book, its makes very interesting reading, especially if your from that era.
Published 17 months ago by Antonietta Foyle
5.0 out of 5 stars In and Out of the Lions Den. A Book Club Review
I am not a football fan and hate to read of the horrors of war but Julie managed to enlighten me in such a way that I was hooked by her story. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Mrs. C. P. Malley
5.0 out of 5 stars In & Out of Lions Den
Bought this book for my husband who is an ex Millwall player, who knows John Shepherd and Julie Ryan and found the book fascinating and a thoroughly good read. Read more
Published 20 months ago by S. Brand
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful
One of the best books I have ever read.Far removed from the run of the mill biographies of modern millionaire superstars of today. Read more
Published on 24 Mar. 2013 by Mr. A. R. Clevett
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