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Life's a Pitch

Life's a Pitch [Kindle Edition]

Michael Calvin
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

Football writers tend not to reveal which team they support. Award-winning journalist and author Michael Calvin has persuaded celebrated colleagues to share their secret passions. There are protestations of man love for Roy Keane and Stan Collymore. Tabloid titans sit on opposite sides of the North London divide. Heroes abound: Fernando Torres and Xabi Alonso; Ted McMinn and Malcolm Crosby, perhaps the only manager to be sacked by the Pools Panel. Share the lives of Bob and Jean Lucas. Appreciate Portsmouth’s pain. Understand why Fulham fans don’t take themselves entirely seriously. Join Crystal Palace on a Chinese tour, and discover why Montpellier should be twinned with Belfast. If you need to understand Liverpool and Leeds, or relate to the young pro who fears his time at Arsenal is over, read on. This is a unique book, of interest to any football fan. In the words of Rafa Benitez: "These are the writers as you don't normally see them: when they are fans with pens"

Michael Calvin is a columnist for the Independent on Sunday, who has covered seven Olympic Games, and six World Cups. He had the idea for this anthology, which he has compiled and edited, while hosting vodcasts for BT’s website, His previous book, Family Life Death & Football was nominated as Football Book of the Year in 2011.

About the Author

The other featured writers are : Adrian Clarke played professional football for Arsenal and Southend United before becoming a sports journalist at the age of 26. He is now an expert analyst for Arsenal TV and BBC Radio Essex, and writes for numerous newspapers, magazines and websites all over the world. John Cross has been reporting for the Daily Mirror since 1988, covering six major tournaments and three Olympic Games to date. Dominic Fifield was born in South Africa but raised a stone's throw from Selhurst Park. He worked for Crystal Palace before joining The Guardian. After six years as Merseyside correspondent, he now covers football in London, where regular trips to Palace compensate for a little too much Chelsea. Alex Hess is an emerging writer who came to prominence through his contributions to the Fanzone on Alex is a freelance football writer who contributes to various websites, including Football365 and The Football Ramble. Tom Hopkinson was a Derby County season ticket holder in the 1990s before work intervened. Since then he has written for the Daily Express, Sunday Express and London's Evening Standard, and is now a football reporter for The People. Laure James is based in Belfast, and has written about football for more than ten years. She is trilingual, having both English and French heritage, and contributes regularly to the Daily Mail, Sky Sports and talkSPORT. Dave Kidd is Chief Sports Writer, Deputy Sports Editor and columnist at The People. He was previously a sports writer at The Sun. Martin Lipton has been Chief Football Writer of the Daily Mirror since 2002, having covered every major England game from 1994. Iain Macintosh is a freelance football writer and author. He writes regularly for The New Paper in Singapore, The Irish Examiner,, MSN and a variety of other publications and websites. Luke Moore is a founding member, co-producer and co-presenter of The Football Ramble, the largest independent football brand in the UK. He is also a well-respected writer and broadcaster and has contributed regularly to BBC 5 Live, BBC World Service, and ESPN. Ian Ridley has written on football for The Guardian, Daily Telegraph, Independent on Sunday, Observer, Mail on Sunday and Daily Express. He is the author of nine books, including the best-selling Addicted, the autobiography of Arsenal and England captain Tony Adams. Janine Self is a freelance sports reporter based in the Midlands, where she worked for The Sun for 15 years. As well as covering football, she has reported on Wimbledon, Formula One, Ryder Cup, Commonwealth Games and Olympics. Janine also co-wrote the autobiography of former football star Robbie Savage. Rory Smith is a football reporter for the Times. Now based in London, he spent three years covering Liverpool for the Telegraph, while his work has also appeared in the Independent and FourFourTwo. Rob Smyth is a sports writer for the Guardian and co-author of Jumpers for Goalposts: How Football Sold Its Soul. David Walker is the sports editor of the Sunday Mirror. He returned to Fleet Street in 2005 after working in football as a director of LeeLeeds United and Barnsley. Before that he was the deputy sports editor of the Mail on Sunday, chief football reporter of the Daily Mail and also worked for The Sun. Dan Willis is the editor of BT s football website,, on which all the contributors to this book come togetogether. Prior to this he was the sports editor of BT s TV service, BT Vision. Jonathan Wilson is the editor of The Blizzard, a contributor to the Guardian, Fox Soccer, ESPN Star, Sports Illustrated and the Irish examiner. He is author of six books on football, including Inverting the Pyramid: A History of Football Tactics, which was the NSC Football Book of the Year in 2009.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 3703 KB
  • Print Length: 206 pages
  • Publisher: Integr8 Books (11 Sep 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0099Q20XQ
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #267,480 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author


I could go all corporate on you, and describe myself as an award-winning sportswriter who developed a significant secondary career in performance management, strategic communications and socially-responsive sports programming.

But, truth be told, I'm a hack, down to my scuffed trainers. I've been lucky, working in more than 80 countries, watching the great, and not-so great, events of world sport.

It helps that I'm a sucker for a project.

That's propelled me the wrong way around the planet, as a crew member on a global yacht race against prevailing winds and tides. It has pitched me into politically incorrect car rallies, around the Amazon basin and Arctic circle.

I sank the only powerboat I was allowed to drive, but felt out of my depth only once. That was at a surfing contest in Vietnam, where the Buddhist priests, in their saffron robes, did a roaring trade in "exotic" cigarettes.

Like all experienced reporters, I made my excuses and left......

Most of these outrages were committed during a twelve year spell as chief sports writer on the Daily Telegraph. I've held similar positions at The Times and Mail on Sunday, and am currently chief sports writer on the Independent on Sunday.

My Mum will tell you I've twice been named Sports Reporter of the Year, and have collected the Sportswriter and Sports Journalist of the Year award. I've featured at the British Press awards on seven occasions, and been honoured for my coverage of sport for the disabled.

My peers in the Press box thought I was mad when I took a five year sabbatical from journalism to help set up and run the English Institute of Sport, which provides scientific, medical and strategic support to 35 Olympic sports.

They were probably right.

My first book, Family: Life, Death and Football, was nominated as football book of the year in 2011. My latest book, The Nowhere Men, has been hailed by the Bookseller as " a strong candidate " for this year's William Hill Sports Book of the Year prize.

It is a study of football scouts, which has had fantastic reviews. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed researching and writing it.



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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth a read 17 Sep 2012
"No cheering in the press box" is an imperative and directive that is passed onto every budding young sports journalist as soon as they start cutting their teeth. But who DO they really support? Well some of the answers are provided in this excellent anthology in which many of the UK's top football writers are at last given the freedom to come clean and declare their allegiances.

The results are enjoyable, surprising, passionate, heartfelt and sometimes, as in the case of former Arsenal winger turned journalist Adrian Clarke, downright emotional.

What is never in question is the quality of the writing which is top notch all the way through.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Life's A Pitch 4 April 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Michael Calvin was onto a complete winner producing this anthology of football writings as it is made up by some of football's most popular, and successful, writers. For those who love our great national game, its well worth adding to your library.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A football book from football's finest 31 Dec 2012
As someone who has struggled to really get into football books in the past - although I find them interesting in the main, they never quite offer enough to keep me enthralled - this is very much an exception.

The book is an anthology of work by some of football's most popular, and most successful, writers. Featuring the likes of Martin Lipton, John Cross, Iain Macintosh, Rory Smith and Jonathan Wilson (and many, many more), some of the very best football scribes are involved, and the quality of the writing in the anthology is rarely anything other than exceptional.
Football writers don't often get the chance to write about their own team. Or, if they do, we don't get to see their passion coming through. It is the (relative) curse of the football journalist that he must be fair and impartial at all times. This book gives the writers the opportunity to step out of their enforced comfort zone and talk about their own team with the passion of a fan, and that's what makes this book such a success.

As a fan of a lower-league football team, I could identify with Iain Macintosh's description of supporting Southend United, and the thrill that came from watching Stan Collymore in his prime (for me, read Barnsley and Craig Hignett). Rory Smith's look at Liverpool is fascinating, while living in France, I can perfectly remember the events that Laure James describes as Montpellier became the surprise champions of Ligue 1. Adrian Clarke's chapter on being frozen out at Arsenal is also both extremely well written, and thoroughly fascinating. It's not often that we get the chance to experience football `from the inside', and `Clarkey' brings it to life very well, stirring up more than a few emotions along the way.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Superb from start to finish 25 Oct 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I've read Mike's previous book Family: Life, Death & Football & absolutely loved it so bought this without a moments hesitation &, again, I wasn't disappointed.

It was fantastic to see the 'other side' of some top footballing journalists & nice to know that, actually, they're just as passionate as normal fans. The cult hero chapters on Ted McMinn & Rodney McAree were my favourites & Adrian Clarke's story about his last season at Arsenal nearly reduced me to tears!

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4.0 out of 5 stars Great footie read 25 Oct 2012
This is the best football book I've read in ages. I'm still recovering from the last monumentally dull autobiography I read by a player yet to turn 25 and this has helped massively. Adrian Clarke's chapter on Arsenal was a real insight into a footballing culture on the cusp of a revolution. And Luke Moore has Fratton Park spot on.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A cut above your average football writing 24 Oct 2012
If, like me, you despair of current football writing and it's stories of 'snubbing', 'slamming' and 'come-and-get-me pleas', this book should be a pleasant surprise. Some great writers trade in a bit of their objectivity for a healthy dollop of passion and the results are uniformly good and in a number of places, great. Adrian Clarke, Rob Smyth and Rory Smith all contribute standout pieces.
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