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R Hernandez "S" (UK)

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Walking Down the Manny Road: Inside Bolton's Football Hooligan Gangs
Walking Down the Manny Road: Inside Bolton's Football Hooligan Gangs
by Doug Mitchell
Edition: Paperback
Price: 10.76

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Usual nonsense trotted out., 12 Dec 2011
This book must have been a lot easier to write than it was to read. A poorly written offering without a trace of anything new in it.

'We were first to wear...(insert over-priced brand name here)'

'They may have had the numbers, but we never ran from (insert club's name here)'

'They would attack scarfers, we never did.'

It is the same old hooligan nonsense that has been served-up for the last 15-20 years. There's nothing original in it, the 'writer' has a shaky grasp on words of more than one syllable and the cowardly defence of associations with racists is as pathetic as it is predictable.

The Thoughts and Secrets of Successful Punters
The Thoughts and Secrets of Successful Punters
by Mark Littlewood
Edition: Paperback

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Help to make you a better bettor?, 9 Oct 2011
There are a large number of books available to punters which claim to offer secrets, reveal hidden codes and promise the world. Fortunately, Mark LIttlewood's collection of interviews make no grand promises. However, and perhaps this is no criticism of the author, the book's title is a little misleading. The Thoughts of Successful Punters would have been an accurate description, but I suspect the publishers wanted something a bit sexier?

Anyway, the book is a series of interviews with ten punters. Some of whom will be well-known to regular bettors. To some extent the author is at the mercy of his interviewees as some of the backers are more forthcoming, loquacious and affable than others. Without giving too much of the book away I think It is fair to say that Mr Segal must have had a particularly unpleasant time prior to his interview as I can think of no other reason for his rather terse and unhelpful responses to fairly unobtrusive questions.

Richard Hoiles continues to enhance his reputation as a thoroughly decent man and there are other enjoyable and informative interviews with Hugh Taylor, Allan Potts and Mark Layden. The latter named being especially notable for his comment about not having any interest in the going - a view which challenges one of the most strongly held beliefs about what makes a successful backer.

The book should give a number of people a few things to think about. Hopefully it will encourage you to look at races and racehorses in a slightly different way and perhaps it will motivate you to explore areas of the game which you previously had not considered.

One minor quibble: the book is very thin. It's barely a 100 pages of rather large print. You'll read it very easily in an hour or so.

An Epic Swindle: 44 Months With a Pair of Cowboys
An Epic Swindle: 44 Months With a Pair of Cowboys
by Brian Reade
Edition: Paperback
Price: 10.15

20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not an easy Reade, 17 May 2011
I was very disappointed with this book.

Some of Reade's interviews/accounts with Parry,Benitez, Moores and others are interesting. Whether you agree with his character analysis or his assessment of certain issues is another issue.

Unfortunately the author goes out of his way to try to appeal to the less-educated section of our support. His reference to Nottingham Forrest fans as 'scabs', the explanation for Benitez not being liked by other managers and the attempt to link the demolition of the boot room with lack of success all play to the gallery of a minority of Liverpool fans, but unfortunately lack any insight, intelligence or understanding.

A lot of this book is based on interviews/meetings/phone-calls/emails with people who, it is alleged, did not want to be named in the book. I understand, given the nature of the topic, that some people wanted to talk off the record but it does get rather tiresome when by page 30 you've already encountered a senior source at Anfield, someone close to the negotiations, a friend of a player, someone at the RBS etc.

One of the more surreal pieces of the book is when the author uses a comment allegedly made by Rio Ferdinand on LFC's new owners. The quote in itself isn't in any way remarkable but it's how that quote was found which is of interest. Here's a summary:
Reade says
That Carragher said
That Ferdinand said
That the Glazers said
That LFC's new owners wouldn't be any good.

Hardly investigative journalism is it?

The original American owners of Liverpool were a disaster and there maybe a story to write about it. However, this book doesn't really satisfy that need. To those supporters of other clubs, you'll probably need to skip the pages describing in some detail the usual cliched references to the 'special' nature of Liverpool fans. We're not special Brian. We're not standard bearers of the fight for international socialism, revolutionary marxism or anything else. If we were, we wouldn't paying the obscene ticket prices and worshipping footballers who couldn't care less about us.

The book just isn't very good.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 20, 2011 1:06 PM BST

Maradona [DVD]
Maradona [DVD]
Dvd ~ Emir Kusturica
Price: 14.24

2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars D-I-E-G-O, 15 Aug 2010
This review is from: Maradona [DVD] (DVD)
Given the trials and tribulations of Maradona it's not hard to understand why any documentary maker would want to make a film about this subject.

However, this was truly awful. I watched it with a non-football fan and had said at the start 'wait until you see his time in Barcelona, his connections with organised crime in Naples etc' - we got very little of that.

Instead we hear Diego going on and on about Bush, the Americans, the English etc. The film served as no more than a vehicle for Maradona to expand on his bizarre beliefs. For this I blame Kusturica. I could only sense a crumb of critical evaluation. What we got was Kusturica genuflecting before Maradona at every opportunity.

A waste of time and waste of subject.

The Blaze of Obscurity: The TV Years
The Blaze of Obscurity: The TV Years
by Clive James
Edition: Hardcover

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars No Endurance needed to read it., 29 Oct 2009
Unlike other reviewers I've not read James' previous biogs/memoirs. However, most people will be aware of his television shows, his novels, poems and literary criticisms.

I really enjoyed the book - really enjoyed it. The accounts of the makings of his early tv programmes are really interesting, as are the tales of him proposing ideas to BBC and ITV. For those interested in the politics of television and how the BBC especially changed its organisation and ethos then the book will be most welcome.

Having said all that, I loved the 'star-stories.' James tells stories about 'celebs', some of whom I find loathsome, which are amsuing and in some cases endearing. One minor criticism would be James' account/analysis of Mel Gibson's rabid anti-semitic rant. I'm not convinced that just because Gibson heard similar stupidity from his father that somehow he is less responsible for what he said. No number of historical films where actors use a variety of languages can excuse the fact that Gibson is probably a fairly unpleasant character. I wonder whether James was blinded by the Australian's reputation?

James description of Freddie Star is fascinating. For those unsure of why there may be ill-feeling on the side of James, go onto YouTube and put the two names in the search box and see what you come up with.

One thing's for sure, I wouldn't fancy juggling with barbed-wire.

Weighting for Winners
Weighting for Winners
by Jim Adams
Edition: Paperback

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars An enjoyable angle but very poorly presented., 5 May 2009
This review is from: Weighting for Winners (Paperback)
Okay, the good bits first.

I will read anything on the subject of horse-racing and more particularly any writer's/punter's attempt to produce their own angle on our great game.

Without giving too much away I'll say that Jim Adams concentrates specifically on the handicap 'marks' given to horses. If you are not familiar with this part of the sport then you'll either have to give the book a miss or do plenty of preparatory reading.

Reading how Adams analyses races really interested me. Whether I agree with his conclusions or not doesn't really matter as I'm not in the habit of reading books to simply support my own views/prejudices. So, that aspect of the book I enjoyed. But now my criticisms:

Firstly, this one to the publishers. In my copy, there were spaces on the page where words should have been, lines ending suddenly then the sentence starting again on the line below. In my copy, there is no table of contents or index - this was really astonishing. In short, it really does look like the book has been produced in a rush. Note to publishers: it really looks poor!

Secondly, and most importantly, the content. Or rather, the lack of something very very important. Adams goes through a lot races during the season, describing how his ratings were applied to specific races. Now, this was not just a stream of 'well, our ratings gave the 25/1 winner here, 33/1 winner there', no, not at all. It appears to be an honest appraisal of how his approach worked in specific races. So that part of it is fine. However, here's the major flaw. There is very little mention of horses' prices. There is virtually no mention of how many selections he supported over a season. There is no profit/loss column over a period of time. There is no table indicating what percentage of races were won by his top rated, his top two rated, his top three rated, his top 'x' percentile etc.

This book is advocating a 'method' or 'approach', not a system and readers should be clear they understand that. A system would be one where anybody could read the guidelines, look at a race and come to the same conclusion. 'Weighting for Winners' doesn't do that, and I have no issue with that at all. What I do have an issue with is the complete absence of any statistical data to support many of his assertions.

I actually liked the author's style throughout the book and feel a little guility leaving such a negative review. However, any book proposing an approach to finding winners and not mentioning strike-rates, profits and losses, losing runs etc is really missing the point.

Punting can be over-complicated at times. There's no need for it to be like this. Punters need to make sure that more than 50% of all even money shots they back, win. They need to hope that more than 25% of their selections at 3/1 win. They need the luck to ensure that more than 10% of all their 9/1 hopefuls win.

Jim Adams makes no mention of any of this.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 17, 2010 4:03 PM GMT

No Easy Money: A Gambler's Diary
No Easy Money: A Gambler's Diary
by Dave Nevison
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 16.99

8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Tissue, A Tissue!, 30 Dec 2008
From the outset I should say that I enjoy reading Nevison's articles/books. Maybe that colours my view, I'm not sure.

This book is not for the general racing enthusiast. It's not really for the general bettor either. If you're looking for a book to give you guidance on how to make your betting pay, well this may not be the one for you either.

Nevison writes a weekly column in the Racing and Football Outlook and it was slightly disappointing to read so much of his new offering cotained in those columns.

The book chronicles Nevison's attempts to win 80K over a period of time. Most of this is through fixed-odds betting, but a signficant outlay is through the Scoop 6 and Tote Jackpot bets.

The author does devote a chapter detailing how he approaches a race. Howeever, this is not a 'how to..' guide. It's merely the Maths behind why he does what he does.

The carousing, partying, carrying-on was okay to read, but I'm a genuine racing fan and punter, so I preferred the accounts of his bets.

You'll read the book in a couple of hours, but it's enjoyable and I hope he continues publishing his tales.

The Beautiful Game?: Searching for the Soul of Football
The Beautiful Game?: Searching for the Soul of Football
by David Conn
Edition: Paperback
Price: 6.99

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brilliant Book, 12 May 2006
Conn's account of modern day football, and the sinister forces controlling the game, makes for a wonderful read.

Too often books on football ignore the trials and tribulations of lower league clubs. That is not a charge that can be levelled at Conn. His chapters on Wimbledon, York, Crewe, Bury, Notts County and others are magnificent accounts of the enthusiasm, passion and fervour of football supporters. In the same chapters there are often desperate tales of the greed of chairmen and directors of these same clubs.

Conn reminds the reader how fans are told that football is now a business, and as a result, has to be viewed in different terms from the game that many supporters grew to love. However, Conn responds with the argument that if football is now a business, then why are people who have continually run their business into the ground been rewarded with well paid jobs.

As a Liverpool supporter I recoommend the book. It's especially recommended to those supporters who perhaps are unsympathetic to the demands of the Hillsborough families. If you're in any way unsure about what happened on April 15th 1989, please read the book. Conn is not a Liverpool supporter. He's not a spokesperson for Liverpool or the bereaved families - he's just a journalist who has restored this reviewer's faith in football writers - and quite possibly football in general.

Broken Dreams: Vanity, Greed and the Souring of British Football
Broken Dreams: Vanity, Greed and the Souring of British Football
by Tom Bower
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Splendid, 20 April 2006
Bower's detailed and articulate account of how football is governed and who makes the important decisions should frighten football fans everwhere.

For too long football supporters have been treated as stupid and fickle. Obviously adult men and women spending ridiculous amounts of money buying replica kits appears to support the aforementioned notion. However, whenever football fans criticise the behaviour of managers and chairmen they are often met with the cry "well, you don't really know what's going on!"

Thanks to Bower, football supporters have been enlightened. Though many will argue that they knew already what was going on. Throughout the book Bower undertakes a painstaking study of the peculiarities of transfers. There is lots of detail, but those not football minded should stick with it as the reward is worth it. The machinations behind the bid for the 2006 World Cup and the patent refusal of the FA to rein in the Premier League are harrowing accounts.

Most of us knew that football has ignored, and at times encourage corrupt practices. Yet, because of the power of the clubs and players and agents most football journalists have been reluctant to tackle these issues. Bower has tackled them and left the football authorities requiring serious treatment.

Tour De France: 1903-2003 Centenary [DVD]
Tour De France: 1903-2003 Centenary [DVD]
Dvd ~ Tour De France
Offered by OnlineMusicFilmsGames
Price: 2.00

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tour De France, 2 Aug 2005
Well, other reviewers had warned me about Sean Kelly, but I thought they were exaggerating ... they weren't.
Kelly's performance is incredible. When he's not mangling his words he's staring, frightened at the autocue, rushing to finish his script. The choice of Kelly as presenter defies logic.
The DVD itself is enjoyable, great footage and great stories of the stars. Obviously much more content on the Tour from the 1980s onwards as television coverage has increased, but this doesn't detract from the film.
My only complaint is the actual nature of the Tour itself. Other sports dvds can show highlights with winning goals,runs, tries, punches etc. It's very difficult for a cycling film to tell stories in such a short period. I'm not certain that new cycling fans really get to understand and appreciate some of the drama that has taken place in recent tours. Showing breakaways on hills and flying finishes in time trials doesn't really tell the story, but maybe that's just the nature of the sport. One has to put in a lot of work to enjoy the Tour ... but it's worth it in the end.
People new to the Tour may find this DVD a great pathway into a fantastic sport, for them it is worth watching. Just don't try and follow what Kelly is saying!

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