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Jack and Bobby: A story of brothers in conflict [Paperback]

Leo McKinstry
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)

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Book Description

2 Jun 2003

The history of modern British football can largely be written through the stories of Jack and Bobby Charlton. Both were in the World Cup winning team of ‘66, and each has remained deeply involved in the game ever since.

The book traces the parallel lives of Jack and Bobby Charlton, following them from their schooldays through to the present day.

The brothers both played prominent roles in the finest hour of English football, the 1966 World Cup triumph. Each played for the dominant club of their era, and summed up the style of their respective teams.

Bobby was at Manchester Utd during their glory days under Sir Matt Busby. He survived the Munich air crash and went on to become a fast, graceful attacker who set grounds alight with his power, speed and athleticism in a team that played free-flowing, attacking football.

Jack came to professional football late, working in a coal mine before Leeds signed him. Don Revie’s Leeds side was renowned for its uncompromising and physical style, and Jack was himself a tough, durable and aggressive defender, who once caused uproar by admitting he had a ‘black book’ with a list of footballing enemies who he would target on the pitch.

The two retired from football in the same year, and since, the contrast between them has been marked. Bobby’s forays into management at Wigan and Preston were distinguished only by their brevity, while ‘Big Jack’ took the Republic of Ireland team to an unprecendented level of success, reaching the quarter finals of the World Cup in 1994. Bobby has been a key figure in the ongoing success of Manchester United over the past decade, working on recruiting players and as an FA diplomat.

But, despite their continued successes, the relationship between the two has been strained, sometimes barely even polite, and the book will investigate the reasons for this, including in-depth interviews with many of those the two have been in contact with over the years.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Willow; New Ed edition (2 Jun 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007118775
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007118779
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13 x 3.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,096,695 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

The Charlton brothers hold a unique place in the history of football, thanks not least to their roles in England's 1966 World Cup triumph, but, as journalist Leo McKinstry recounts in his biography Jack and Bobby--A Story of Brothers in Conflict, little has previously been written specifically about the pair and their sometimes volatile relationship.

The public image of the two is firmly established. Younger brother Bobby, the dazzling forward with all the natural ability, who would find a place at the heart of the football establishment as roving ambassador for Manchester United and England. And Jack the lad, the gangling hardman defender; a workhorse, and later, voluble, eccentric club and international manager, who could always be counted on for a quote. But while McKinstry reveals there is much truth behind the stereotypes, there has been tension too, with neither brother entirely comfortable with their ascribed roles.

Such reflections are weaved around a traditional biographical narrative, which follows the brothers from childhood through their respective playing careers with Manchester United, and Leeds, their England glory, managerial successes and failures to their current state of semi-retirement, and digs out some illuminating stuff along the way. Neither of the Charltons was prepared to cooperate with this book--but McKinstry has sought out the perspectives of friends, family and colleagues. The story of Bobby's struggles to find a career after playing, where business success outside of football was matched by managerial failure within it, reveals that a man who had so effortlessly drawn on his own sporting talent was all at sea among the less gifted. And Big Jack, the affable saint steering the Irish team out of obscurity, was a somewhat less cuddly character behind the scenes: according to his players, the boss was prone to very human weaknesses, not least an almost incredible "carefulness" with money, a trait that is the catalyst for some of the book's funniest, and oddest moments.

Such humour, enhanced by McKinstry's eye for the tiny details that betray personality and his ability to draw meaningful characterisations from a blend of familiar facts and fresh anecdotal material, lifts the book out of the ordinary. Jack and Bobby succeeds in offering affectionate but convincing portraits of two of English football's most revered and intriguing characters. --Alex Hankin --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


"A Cracking Read" -- The Sunday Times

"Leo McKinstry's excellent new book." -- The Weekend Herald

"McKinstry's great book." -- Maxim Magazine

'...one of the best football books ever written.' -- New Statesman

'a fabulous book...undoubtedly the best ever biography of any United player'. -- Michael Crick

'elegantly written and exhaustively researched' -- Sunday Telegraph

'thoroughly entertaining and ultimately rather uplifting' -- When Saturday Comes

Elegantly written, exhaustively researched...His account of the Munich disaster is written with a restrained power that brought tears to my eyes. -- The Sunday Telegraph --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read for men of a certain age 1 Mar 2003
This is the story of two of the outstanding personalities of post-war football in the British Isles, the Charlton brothers. Bobby is probably the most famous English player of all time. Jack's success came less easily but his strength of character and sense of humour has made him an enduringly popular figure in the game.
The book traces the brothers' parallel lives and careers from their humble roots in Ashington, Northumberland through to their millionaire status today. Their stellar playing careers are examined with Bobby recognised as a star at Manchester United from his earliest days surviving the Munich air disaster. Jack, on the other hand, spent much of his younger days with Leeds in the second division and did not make his debut for England until he was nearly thirty. They played together in England's World Cup winning team of 1966 and both won League Champioship and FA Cup winners medals with their clubs while Bobby went on to win the European Cup as well. Both international careers ended with the disappointment of elimination from the World Cup in 1970 at the quarter-final stage by West Germany.
Their lives go their separate ways after retirement with Jack, the qualified coach, going on to manage Middlesbrough, Sheffield Wednesday and, briefly, Newcastle before the revelation of his ten years with the Republic of Ireland. Bobby, after an unsuccessful spell as manager of Preston became a successful businessman and - that rarity for an ex-player - football club director (of Manchester United).
However, the book is much more than a catalogue of the brothers' success. At its core is an examination of their different personalities and the frequent tension between them, particularly Jack's displeasure with Bobby's estrangement from their mother.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enthralling biography 16 Jun 2003
Two icons for the price of one! This is a well written history of the Charlton brothers. Very well researched and told in an absorbing manner this is peppered with anicdotes and stories from people and players that were there. This is a balanced view that provides the strengths and weaknesses of both Jack and Bobby although on occasion the author does show his dislike of some peripheral characters and individuals which actually adds to the entertainment.
One of the better football biographies I have read, and I've read quite a few!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars England's Finest Get The Book They Deserve 20 Nov 2002
Leo McKinstry has written a very well-researched, insightful biography of these very different brothers. Both were and are wonderful footballers and ambassadors for the game, but couldn't be more different as people. Most football biographies are little more than a string of anecdotes, this book gets beneath the skin of the subjects and gives a real insight into their world and what made them the people they are. Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Jack and Bobby is an excellent book full of insights into the most successful footballing brothers England has ever produced. It not only deals with their footballing careers but also their personal and private lives and sheds light on why these two legends of the game are not as close as you would think. The part on their careers is very interesting and also suggests why the two are viewed differently partly because of what positions they played, their differing attitudes and temperaments but also which teams they played for. The best part of this book however deals with the early career of Bobby Charlton up to and including the Munich air crash and its aftermath which I feel is one of the most moving things I have ever read. All in all this is an excellent book and I would reccomend it to anyone not just football fans.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brothers United 5 Aug 2007
One of the better biographies a pleasure to read.

Well written and befitting of the finest brothers to grace english football.
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4.0 out of 5 stars a good football book, finally 24 Feb 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
well written, a real picture of life in post-war mining communities in Northern England. A good portrait of the personalities of both brothers. It doesn't try to dish the dirt but does give you a good insight into how they both work. Both brothers come out of the book as real, identifiable people.

I enjoyed this. Leo McKinstry is a good football journalist
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