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The Rivals Game: Inside the British Derby Hardcover – 14 Apr 2008

3.4 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 218 pages
  • Publisher: Know the Score Books (14 April 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1905449798
  • ISBN-13: 978-1905449798
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 24.1 x 2.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,034,824 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

Review

There is a big piece of brain behind the brawn in this book my friends...There's a brilliant story about the derby in Sheffield - United and Wednesday. It is a cracking yarn...I have got to tell you, it's a good book, because it's got good stories in it, it's got human stories in it. If you want to read a little bit more about football culture and a little bit about the way it really ticks and I think what probably really drives people to sort of derby madness and derby day mayhem, get hold of Douglas Beattie's book. --Steve Bunce, BBC London Sports Show.

It's a real fans' book, I really mean it, that's exactly what it is, as I say, it touched me in more ways than one. Really, reading about the reasons why you support one team or another, or you are passionate about one team or another, it brought it all home to me and it made sense...You have a wonderful passage there, I really read the chapter on the north London rivalry, and the introduction which mentions it, with gusto, so much gusto --Dotun Adebayo, Radio 5 Live.

Best Sporting Reads of 2008 --BBC Sport

From the Publisher

Reviews for Rival's Game:
There is a big piece of brain behind the brawn in this book my friends...There's a brilliant story about the derby in Sheffield -- United and Wednesday. It is a cracking yarn...I have got to tell you, it's a good book, because it's got good stories in it, it's got human stories in it. If you want to read a little bit more about football culture and a little bit about the way it really ticks and I think what probably really drives people to sort of derby madness and derby day mayhem, get hold of Douglas Beattie's book - Steve Bunce, BBC London Sports Show

I loved this book - it's packed full of facts, some I knew, or thought I did, but most I didn't. I think football fans will love it, it just gets right to the heart of why people choose their clubs and what these cities are like to live in . . . I doubt a finer football book has been written about the game in Britain - and its biggest cities.

What Beattie has produced is an intelligent and well written insight into the eight biggest derbies in British football ... it does afford Beattie the opportunity to pack the book with information to entertain and interest the reader ... there is also plenty of humour. It's difficult not to chuckle at the account of Sean Bean's failed attempt to use his celebrity to get into Hillsborough, nor at the implication that Moira Stewart was a catalyst for growing resentment in Edinburgh in 1990 after she reported that the Hearts chairman Wallace mercer's merger plans would `wipe Hibs from the footballing map' ... the portrayal of the passion and drama surrounding the final north London derby at Highbury is wonderfully vivid, while his depiction of celebrating Hibs fans at Tynecastle - `a moving jigsaw of humanity propelled by a single emotion' - beats the traditional `the crowd went wild' by some distance ...given its success, Beattie's allusion to another volume featuring further examples is welcome. - When Saturday Comes

It's a real fans' book, I really mean it, that's exactly what it is, as I say, it touched me in more ways than one. Really, reading about the reasons why you support one team or another, or you are passionate about one team or another, it brought it all home to me and it made sense....You have a wonderful passage there, I really read the chapter on the north London rivalry, and the introduction which mentions it, with gusto, so much gusto - Dotun Adebayo, Radio 5 Live

Reviews for Rivals Game
One of the most irritating practices you will come across in contemporary culture is the yoking together of unrelated topics in one article or programme. Yet the practicalities of the publishing industry and the sporting calendar sometimes make it unavoidable, so today we will be considering an excellent book concerned with derbies and two not unrelated to the Grand National, which takes place this weekend.
This would make for an admirable and timely package, were it not for the fact that the derbies are the footballing variety rather than the Epsom event so beloved of racing devotees and dodgy fortune-tellers. Douglas Beattie's The Rivals Game (Know the Score, £17.99) is a fine examination of the oldest and most powerful rivalries in British football.
The author is a BBC reporter with impressive news credentials, and he employs techniques no doubt honed in situations more challenging than match-day crowds to reveal the true feelings of hard-core fans about their neighbouring enemies.
There is more to this than inherited enmity on a Montague/Capulet scale. People not only know that they hate the other lot; they also often know why. Sometimes, as in Glasgow, the reasons are related to religion; sometimes they are geographical; in Birmingham the rivalry between Aston Villa and Birmingham City is founded on attitudes that even an apprentice Marxist would realise are essentially based on the ancient British bugbear of class.
Many of us simply assume that these long-established antipathies are somehow bred in the bone, but Beattie combines excellent reportage with a great deal of deftly rendered (and appropriately acknowledged) history to reveal that some of the most prolonged rifts have their roots in the actions of historical individuals.
Tottenham fans, for example, generally seem to dislike Arsenal, and since the two distinguished clubs are separated by no more than four miles of the Seven Sisters Road this can hardly be put down to ethnic differences or a disdain for Arsene Wenger's Europhile recruitment policy.
According to Beattie, the bad blood between the near neighbours actually dates back to the Edwardian era, when Sir Henry Norris uprooted Woolwich Arsenal from south London, planted them in Spurs' backyard and then, by way of apparent skulduggery, had them excluded from the post-First World War First Division. No wonder they don't like each other.
There is a lot more of that kind of fascinating detail (did you know that Sheffield Wednesday were known as the Blades long before Sheffield United? Or that Aston Villa were founded by a group of Methodist cricketers?), and the whole is presented with a brisk prose style that makes for a rapid and satisfying read. The proofreader seems to have fallen asleep every now and then, as we seem to discover every week, but any intelligent football fan will find this a highly entertaining and informative work.
Andrew Baker, Daily Telegraph

Book of the Week - Daily Telegraph
Book of the Week - Independent

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Format: Hardcover
One of the worse and easily the most poorly written book I have had the misfortune of reading.

Littered with falsehoods and inaccuracies, Douglas Beattie clearly has an agenda in writing his book and it is ironic that he has no real expertise or enough experience to write such a book.

Douglas would be better sticking to something closer to his heart.

His anti Britishness and his support for the IRA.
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Format: Hardcover
Who did Douglas Beattie talk to in London? In fact, who did he 'hang around with' in all his travels round the country? Nah, this really isn't my cup of tea. There are so many fantastic books out there on the subject of football rivalries and this one shouldn't even score 1 star. You just can't visit a town and expect to pick up on the clashes - you need to be visiting clubs up and down England for many years to be able to get a half decent grasp on what goes on and where. Beattie should stick to Scottish football. It never ceases to amaze me how there are so many Celtic fans (Beattie is a Celtic fan) who hate so much about England yet are so desperate to get their club into the big boys League. They are not wanted and neither is this book. Avoid. It's written from an outsider who never twigged on to how English clubs tick.
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Format: Hardcover
We've all got an opinion on which 'derby' is the best, usually we exclude all bar the one that involves our own team and our fiercest rivals. For Rangers and Celtic fans there is nothing that can touch the passion of their local scraps. For the two Sheffield clubs, only the Steel City derby matters. For those residing in Scotland's capital city, no other local fixture creates quite the same buzz as an Edinburgh 'knees-up'. To be honest, all these fans, and the umpteen others not represented in this book, are correct from a certain point of view. We are all biased and all believe our derby to be the best. And they are, as far as we're concerned. It is the author's ability to delve deeply into the feelings, passions and histories of the 8 derbies included in this book, in a completely unbiased manner, which is the tome's greatest achievement. Yes, the histories of each derby will be familiar to the supporters of the teams concerned, but to everyone else they offer fascinating glimpses into what created such strong rivalries in the first place. This is an infinitely more enjoyable and informative read on the subject of local rivalry than past efforts by 'reformed' hooligans and deals with real historical issues rather than thuggery dressed up as passion. This is a must for fans of the teams included and those which are missed out (but may feature in a forthcoming sequel, tantalisingly alluded to in the book). Buy it now and see why the Steel City derby is the best of all!
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Format: Hardcover
I must declare that I am mentioned in the acknowledgments of this book. I've also played football against the author and have witnessed, at first hand, the passion, knowledge and joy Beattie gets from the game of football. What is more impressive than his Dalglish-like vision is that all that passion, knowledge, understanding, joy and belief in the power of football is within this thoroughly engaging book.

"The Rivals Game: inside the British Derby" is an examination of the relationships between fans, an exploration of the origins of the clubs, an analysis of the club's development and an adventure into the modern day derby day experience. Beattie is ruthless, rigorous and honest in his assessment of the relationship between fans and clubs. He's fearless in his examination of fans relationship with each other and the origins of their rivalry. He also has a honesty, although uncomfortable for some die-hard fans to read, which makes this book so engaging.

He chooses eight derbies from across the British footballing spectrum: the Sheffield, Liverpool, Manchester, Glasgow and Edinburgh as well as the Arsenal/Spurs, Newcastle/Sunderland and Aston Villa/Birmingham derbies. Each chapter comes with well researched history, vivid descriptions of match days and both fascinating and surprising insights from contributors who range from ordinary fans on the street or in club shops to the likes of Michael Howard and Jack Charlton. Beattie puts these rivalries into context and discovers that these rivalries are not what he - or this reviewer - expected.

Beattie writes in a very easy and conversational style making this book accessible to anybody. He brings his match day experience to life with wonderfully colourful descriptions and a grounded sensibility.
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Format: Hardcover
As a "football widow" I sometimes wonder what all the fuss is about but having read Beattie's book it is certainly more clear why so many feel it is more than just a game. I was encouraged to read The Rival's Game by a great review in a national paper. I was not disappointed. Despite not having any emotional investment in the derbies covered (Sheffield, Birmingham, North London, Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Tyne & Wear) I found the background to each fascinating. Especially the history of how each of these now famous clubs came in to existence (cricket and churches seem to feature a lot!). This book is as much a commentary on urban social history as the development of the British football obsession. Although religion and class are the obvious reasons for some of the well know modern day rivalries it is the exploration of other aspects (particularly the skulduggery!) that makes this a good read. Well written and with just the right amount of depth I would recommend this to anyone with even a passing interest in British football.
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