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Manchester United Ruined My Life Paperback – 6 May 1999


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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Headline; New Ed edition (6 May 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747259836
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747259831
  • Product Dimensions: 11.2 x 2.1 x 17.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 365,313 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

As a young Jewish boy growing up in Manchester, Colin Shindler learned early what it meant to be part of a minority. When a cruel twist of fate determined he support Manchester City, rather than their more consistently successful neighbours Manchester United, the youngster was doomed forever to live on the margins.

Manchester United Ruined My Life is a delightful, humourous look at what it meant to grow up in 1960s Jewish Manchester. Reconciled with rival fans only in summer, when both could sit peacefully side by side at the unimaginatively named "Old Trafford" ground of Lancashire County Cricket Club, Shindler will speak for many with his frustration at the marketing machine that is Manchester United plc. Pulling no punches--"When Alex Ferguson finally clears his desk, it is more likely to be at the request of the chairman of the Stock Exchange than the traditional choir of disaffected supporters"--he vents his fury at the unashamed commercialisaton of the game, the diasporic fan base (many of whom have never set foot inside England, never mind Old Trafford) and the feisty Scottish manager himself, with an obsession only true fans of the game will appreciate.

But more than just a sporting commentary lamenting the bygone Halcyon days of English soccer, Manchester United Ruined My Life is one little boy's story of his struggle to establish his identity among the challenges of religion, family and death. Shindler's prose is easy and accessible yet lyrical and evocative; there is no doubt his love for his city has endured. That this affection is somewhat rose-tinted, tinged with the distance a successful television career in London allows, takes nothing away from the book. Manchester United Ruined My Life is a commodity more valuable than Old Trafford shares--it is an enjoyable, highly readable, football book with real literary merit. Highly recommended for everyone who has ever sung "Stand Up, If You Hate Man U". --Lucie Naylor

Review

This is a wonderful book ... It is also extremely funny (Alan English, Sunday Times)

His prose ... is never less than sharp, smart and easy on the eye ... His writing is so attractive ... [I] would be thrilled to read more (Jim White, Guardian)

It is his childhood and absent friends that touch the rawest, universal nerve (Simon Garfield, Mail on Sunday)

Shindler's art lies in conversational writing, and an ability to change gear deftly from humour to devotion and back through fanaticism to the black comedy of Manchester City (Howard Davies, The Times)

Shindler is both touching and convincing in his evocation of his formative years ... it's skilful, entertaining and heading for the top of the league (Richard Pendlebury, Daily Mail)

Evocative, funny-sad and warm-hearted (Michael Henderson, The Times)

Sits in the same class as Fever Pitch ... Shindler's down-to-the-bone honesty also reminds us self-indulgence can be great entertainment (The Times)

This could still be the most important football book since Fever Pitch capturing, as it does, the delicious irony that caused City fans to fall into a soon to be legendary chorus of "Are you watching Macclesfield?" (Mick Middles, Manchester Evening News)

As an example of the inherent irrationality of sport, his account - part autobiography, part social disquisition - could hardly be bettered (Stuart Bathgate, Scotsman)

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 28 July 1999
Format: Hardcover
Shindler writes with a passion for his subject and a long, painful knowledge of Man City but this is spoilt by a clumsy and leaden style. This is surprising for someone who repeatedly reminds us that he is a Cambridge history graduate who has spent his whole working life in TV and the arts. His most irritating trait in this book is to tantalise us with hints of interesting tales but without delivering the goods. Thus we learn that in the late 1960s, the sublime Colin Bell had all the ingredients of a happy life - E-type Jag, great talent, successful career, big house - but was miserable. Why ? Colin Shindler is so astonished he forgets to ask. Twenty years later he catches up with Bell again - and still we learn nothing about the great man ! Similarly, we never learn why the great rapport that Shindler shared with his sports-mad uncle turned to disaffection. What went wrong ? This book has some funny anecdotes (though the Bobby Kennedy story on page one is the best) and some moving passages such as the loss of his mother when still a young boy, but ultimately it fails to deliver on its early promise. A lot like Man City really... Not a bad book but not even nearly in the same division as Nick Hornby's 'Fever Pitch' and as a fellow Blues supporter who really wanted to like this book, it is hard to have to say that.
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By Worker Bee on 19 Feb. 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
First and foremost - this book has very little to do with Manchester United, although it is a good title to "draw you in". The book is about a) being Jewish ( and quite repetitively) b) Manchester City and c) Lancashire cricket. Manchester United only really feature every time they beat City, which is frequently. Basically, though, the emphasis is on his Jewish upbringing and whilst there are some sharp observations and amusing comments it gets repetitive. I am from the same era and location as Shindler and I understand the difficulty and potential loneliness acutely....but it didnt need quite so much obsessive focus. Great idea, and great Bobby Kennedy joke, but ran out of steam very quickly. Great shame.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 29 Feb. 2000
Format: Hardcover
What we have here is a well written book documenting the rise, fall, rise, fall, rise a little bit then fall straight into division two Manchester City. Don't be fooled though as the book deals with more than sport and therein the book stumbles. Without sounding too unfeeling, I found that the middle section of the book about Shindler's mother dying and his loss of faith afterwards somewhat heavy reading. The books apex comes unsurprisingly when City win the league in '68, but no-one remembers because of Uniteds victory in the European Cup of the same year. And, as the author states himself, all of City's achievements have been overshadowed by their nearest neighbour this book is also overshadowed by Hornby's Fever-Pitch but is still nonetheless a very worthwhile read
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 20 Nov. 2000
Format: Hardcover
I haven't been able to put this book down and have started to read it for the second time. I hope that there will be a sequel. Colin Shindler is a superb author and he has put pen to paper and provided an unbiased opinion on what it is like to be a Man City Fan and why Man City have the best fans in the world.
The very title of the book has been selected to entice those masses that would have ignored it had it been titled "Manchester City shaped my life - thank's be to God".
It's good reading and is a must for any football fan, it's honest, funny and is a gem of a book.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 27 July 1999
Format: Paperback
Shindler writes with a passion for his subject and a long knowledge of it but this is spoilt by a clumsy and leaden style ... his most irritating trait in this book is to tantalise us with hints of interesting tales but without delivering the goods. Thus we learn that in the late 1960s, the sublime Colin Bell had all the ingredients of a happy life - E-type Jag, great talent, succesful career, big house - but was miserable. Why ? Colin forgets to ask. Twenty years later he catches up with Bell again - and we still learn nothing about the man ! Similarly, we never learn why the great rapport that Shindler shared with his sports-mad uncle turned to disaffection. What went wrong ? This book has some funny anecdotes (though the Bobby Kennedy story on page one is the best) and some moving passages such as the tragic loss of his mother when still a young boy, but ultimately it fails to deliver on its early promise. A lot like Man City, really... Not a bad book but not even nearly in the same division as Nick Hornby's 'Fever Pitch' and as a fellow Blues supporter who really wanted to enjoy this book, it is hard to have to say that.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By graham.reeds@btinternet.com on 30 Sept. 1999
Format: Paperback
The best part of this book is the title. It is also the worst because it promises so much which the book fails to deliver. The beautifully crafted Bobby Kennedy joke on page one promises a wry and witty obsessional memoir. But all it delivers is the obsession. Perhaps the target audience, more familiar with Fantasy Football League, Nick Hornby and Match of the Seventies, are not going to be too interested in obscure detail from games played more than thirty years ago, but there is nevertheless a bulk of it recalled from a patently obsessive mind. Although there are occasional and wonderful flashes of ironic sharpness (for example, the Titanic-wreck depths when City fans start to chant, "are you watching Macclesfield") he cannot sustain it. I chuckled out loud over his uncle Laurence, perpetually embattled with the MCC (yes, it is a book about cricket too), draping his shirt over the Lords sign forbidding them to be removed; but it was the only time I did. This is a shame because watching Manchester City over the last decade ought to have produced funnier material than we are given ...
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