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Left Back in Time [Hardcover]

Len Ashurst
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

10 Mar 2009
No outfield player has played more games for Sunderland than Len Ashurst. In his fascinating autobiography Len details the extraordinary ups and downs of his career, including his fall out with Brian Clough, rejection by his home town club Liverpool, drinking with Jim Baxter, taking Newport County to promotion and a European quarter-final, winning promotion with Cardiff City, the pie-selling thief of Ninian Park and surviving a murder attempt whilst manager of an Arabian football team. After 458 games at Left Back for Sunderland, his managerial career took him from Hartlepool through to Gillingham, Sheffield Wednesday, Newport and Cardiff before returning to his beloved Roker Park and taking his team to Wembley. Then it was on to coaching in the Middle East and Malaysia where he met Princes, Tariq Aziz and Yasser Arafat when he took his team to the Gaza Strip. His career wasn t all a bed of roses. The tiff with Clough led to Len refusing to play in Old Big eads testimonial match. He also presided over difficult times at Sheffield Wednesday as the club almost suffered relegation to the Fourth Division and saw Sunderland slide out of the top flight under his tenure. The highs and lows of his career provide an undulating backdrop for tales of the many personalities Len has met and also worked and played with and against, including Bill Shankly, Bob Paisley, Malcolm Allison, Sir Alex Ferguson, Don Howe, Ron Atkinson, Dave Mackay, George Best, Nobby Styles, Billy Bremner, Norman Hunter and John Aldridge. Throughout the latter history of the Premier League Len has been deeply involved in its evolution, including being instrumental in the foundation of the Premier League Academies. As a Premier League Match Delegate he has witnessed many notorious incidents including the fight between Newcastle United team-mates Kieron Dyer and Lee Bowyer. In Left Back In Time , which looks back at a remarkable career which has spanned six decades, Len pulls no punches as he controversially speaks his mind in revealing the many issues which he feels face the FA in righting the wrongs he feels they may have created in the modern game.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Know the Score Books (10 Mar 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 184818512X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1848185128
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 16.2 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 630,306 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


l read this in one go! I have read many football auto/biographies over the years and without a doubt this is the best. Interesting, erudite, amusing, informative, honest and touching in parts - brilliant work. --Kevin Taylor, Former Players photographer

Brilliant - over the years I've read countless autobiographies by former players and this one is up there with the best of them. --Sunderland F.C. Historian

From Merseyside to Newport, [Ashurst s] world is peopled with jokers, bullies and the unscrupulous on the make. Nothing is out-of-bounds: poetry; homophobia; the minimum wage; run-ins with the Stasi; and surreal insights from time managing in the Middle East. Len Ashurst s...bubbling book, full of character studies and vignettes, is recommended. --When Saturday Comes.

About the Author

Len Ashurst has spent over 50 years working in football, first as a left-back with Sunderland for whom he holds the record number of appearances for an outfield player, then with Hartlepool, Gillingham, Sheffield Wednesday, Newport County, Cardiff and Sunderland as a manager, then coached abroad and finally workedas a match delegate for the Premier League since the scheme's inception in 2003.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
This is a beautifully written book that is surely worthy of first place in any of the annual literary prizes for sportswriters. The first chapter is a masterstroke, not opening with the traditional sentence, "I was born in..." but instead beginning with a provocative account of Len's role as a Premier League Match Delegate from 2004 to the present day. Supporters of all football clubs should be encouraged to read at least this opening chapter for the insight it provides. I'm sure they would be drawn in immediately by the passion Len shows for the future of the game, as well as by the honesty and warm sense of humour that is sustained throughout a book that, in describing the author's own life, succeeds in tracing the history of the game over the last fifty years throughout the land.

Of course, as a lifelong Sunderland supporter, I needed no encouragement to read on and was fascinated by Len's descriptions of his arrival in the town and his early days at the club which gave me a taste of what life must have been like for my own father when he played professionally for a short time before injury ended his career. Having attended my first matches in the 63/64 promotion season and been given my first season ticket the following August at the age of 7 years, obviously the book brought back many happy memories, but more importantly it clarified many things that I didn't fully understand at that age.

To re-emphasise that I believe this is an autobiography that should appeal to all football fans, I found the chapters concerned with Len's life as a manager in the lower divisions with clubs like Hartlepool and Newport County equally fascinating.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best football autobiography so far 4 Dec 2009
If you are interested in this period of football history, when men were men, don't hesitate just buy this. I have read many auto/biographies and this is head and shoulders above the rest. It was so absorbing I read it on one sitting.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars LEFT BACK IN TIME LEN ASHURST 16 Sep 2009
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5.0 out of 5 stars LENNIE THE LION 2 Aug 2012
I've read loads of football autobiographies dwon the years and Len's is in the top three in terms of honesty and sheer enjoyment.He'll take you back to an era when the game he played and managed was done so in the right spirit and really did belong to the ordinary working man-unlike today with the hype and greed of it all.

Len- or Lennie the Lion as all us star-struck 11 year olds used to call him-was only 22 and the first of my boyhood early 60's Sunderland idols(along with Charlie Hurley, Jimmy Montgomery,Stan Anderson,Cloughie,George Mulhall,the late,great Jimmy McNab and many others too numerous to name).

The book is gritty,funny,sad and very poignant too and it's a must-read for all real football fans. I should add that I have had the priviledge to meet Len a couple of times and reminded him of a boyhood incident at Roker Park when he launched an opposing player into the clock stand right in front of the referee. Len paused for a second,smiled at me and then said: "That would have been Jimmy McNab- I was much more subtle than that".

Thanks for the memories, Len.
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5.0 out of 5 stars In his own words!! 26 Sep 2010
Len wrote every word of this book himself and it enteatains from beginning to end. A great insight into life as a football manager. As a Sunderland supporrter in the Jim Baxter days the details of what went on at that time are fascinating, and explain a lot! Can you imagine an autobiography by Wayne Ronney or Alan Shearer written (wrote?) in their own words?
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