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From Ronnie Radford to Roger Osborne: When the FA Cup Really Mattered: Volume 2 - The 1970s
From Ronnie Radford to Roger Osborne: When the FA Cup Really Mattered: Volume 2 - The 1970s
by Matthew Eastley
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful look back at the F.A. Cup finals of the 1970s,, 20 Jun 2014
"From Ronnie Radford To Roger Osborne" is a wonderful summary of a golden age in English football ... the 1970s ... when winning the main domestic cup was so much more important than it often seems to be in more modern times. Author Matthew Eastley's research is simply phenomenal. Not only has he found supporters of different ages and from different backgrounds who were lucky enough to be successful in obtaining tickets for what was then the most prestigious day in the football calendar, it's clear that he has patiently watched every final in this decade (and possibly in some cases listened to the radio commentaries too) because of the numerous extracts in this book of quotes made by the radio and television commentators of the day. Some of the teams that reached the cup final in the Seventies were predictable enough (Leeds, Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United) but there were also the unexpected and euphoric victories by Sunderland, Southampton and Ipswich. The old Wembley held 100,000 but as the Seventies started the two finalists only received around 16,000 tickets each. It hadn't improved much by the end of the decade either. Many of the supporters Matt contacted talk of the mad scramble for tickets that would either end in extreme elation or abject misery. They talk also, often with great clarity, about events that happened 40+ years ago and the very different emotions experienced on cup final day. Through it all Matthew sets the scene perfectly with reference to the news and sports stories of the time, the social unrest that plagued England through much of the decade, the popular music that was being played and what we were watching on television and at the cinema. If wallowing in nostalgia can be a positive experience, this well-compiled book brings it to the fore in an always vivid, often funny and sometimes sad way because it captures the importance that football plays in so many lives and the whole gauntlet of emotions that it brings about for those who get the bug.

From Barry Stobart to Neil Young: When the FA Cup Really Mattered: Volume 1 - The 1960s
From Barry Stobart to Neil Young: When the FA Cup Really Mattered: Volume 1 - The 1960s
by Matthew Eastley
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.49

5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful look back at the F.A. Cup finals of the 1960s, 20 Jun 2014
The subititle to this excellent book is “When the F.A. Cup really mattered”. How true that is! There was a time when the F.A. Cup final was the only match televised live each year apart from possibly an England international that had been fully sold out. There was a time when the cup wasn’t devalued by the bigger clubs deliberately fielding weakened teams. And that time was the 1960s and the 1970s. By the time the 1980s arrived, the sport of football was changing … and probably not for the better.

The 1960s was the decade in which I first attended professional football matches live in England; and my first memory of watching any match on television was the 1962 F.A. cup final between Tottenham Hotspur and Burnley. I even remember the commentator saying (and it is confirmed in this book) that when Burnley equalised it was the 100th goal scored in a Wembley F.A. cup final. That commentator was the doyen of his craft, the BBC’s Kenneth Wolstenholme, who was not replaced until the early 1970s (by the equally well-known David Coleman). Pretty much every cup final of the 1960s is now available on dvd. It is obvious that Matthew Eastley has sat through them all, carefully making notes as he goes, because he often tells us something Wolstenholme said and the moment he said it. The same applies to all the testimonies from supporters. It all had to be read and considered before being inserted in the appropriate place. But there is more than that. The author has clearly gone through countless newspaper archives so that he can add interesting snippets about domestic news, world news, sports news and musical items; plus he must have trawled through numerous old television guides as well to know, for example, what the BBC and ITV television schedules were on cup final day as well as other television programmes and films that were hitting the headlines at the time.

Lots of books have been written before about clubs winning cups. This book is different. Although it is Matthew Eastley who has put it all together, this is really a book by the fans for the fans. You only need to read one chapter … and it matters not which chapter … to recognise how much work has gone into this. F.A. Cup final day used to be the biggest event in the football calendar, maybe even the entire sporting calendar. Matthew has tapped into the memories of dozens of supporters of many different clubs whose recollections of what happened fifty years ago is as clear as on the days the events actually happened.

The text is complemented by some lovely photographs, not of goals scored in finals but of the people who have contributed to this book and who have carefully retained mementos safely for decades afterwards.

Winning teams nearly always parade the trophy in front of their own supporters, usually the next day. There is a constant theme in each chapter … the paltry allocation of tickets (a finalist’s allocation for most of the 1960s was only around 15,000 despite so many clubs having an average home attendance significantly higher than that). From the West Bromwich Albion celebration in 1968 we learn that “the only shame is that so many more of the jubilant fans gathered in the town centre should, by rights, have been at Wembley to experience the joy of cup victory first hand. But, due to the absurd ticketing arrangements, thousands were deprived”. On another page but which could apply to any year “It is a perennial complaint which will rumble on for years”.

As for the matches themselves … and even though I was a keen follower of the sport throughout the period that is covered … I learned many new things about the finals I watched and the few I did not. I apologise to the memory of Barry Stobart that I had absolutely no idea who he was or that he collected “a cup winners’ medal after only six first-class games”; nor was I aware that only one year after Barry in 1960 Leicester City’s Hughie McIlmoyle was another what I will call ‘unexpected finalist’. I remember the high-spirited pitch-invasions by a Liverpool supporter in 1965 and an Everton supporter the following year, incidents that would have been regarded totally differently today, even if before those two finals “previous finals have seen all kinds of ruses and japes to gain entry. And, in the mid-and late 1960s, Liverpudlians gained, possibly unfairly, a reputation for being the most inventive and determined”.

Dave Whelan (Blackburn Rovers 1960), Len Chalmers (Leicester City 1961) and Gerry Byrne (Liverpool 1965) received serious injuries while playing in an F.A. Cup final but had to either leave the field of play or hobble on as best they could. Substitutes were not allowed in English football until the 1965-66 season and then only for an injured player to be replaced. From and after the 1967-68 season the substitution could be for tactical reasons not just injury.

Today supporters of English clubs regularly travel vast distances to the British mainland to watch football live. Yet it was going on fifty years and more ago too. Your heart will warm to the tale of Alfred Camilleri, a 19-year-old Wolverhampton Wanderers supporter from Malta who booked a trip so that he would be in England for the first two weeks of May, the period during which the F.A. Cup final would take place in 1960. Unsuccessful in obtaining a match-ticket from anyone at the Wolverhampton end, he travelled to Wembley anyway and shortly before kick-off paid a tout £3.50 for a ticket, the actual cost of which was 17 and a half pence. Although it was more than he had ever earned in a week Alfred says “I’ve never regretted it”.

Just as young Albert never regretted paying over the odds for his precious cup final ticket, you will not regret going back in time to read these wonderful accounts of how supporters reacted and behaved as the team they followed negotiated different minefields on their way to the grand finale of the football season. This is the most evocative football book I have ever read and it was a pleasure to do so. I urge you to step on board and join the party, especially if the club you follow was involved in any of the cup finals between 1960 and 1969. This is a thrill-a-minute ride that will leave you speechless with admiration for the resilience and resourcefulness of all the (mostly young) men and women who have allowed us to share their special day out at the home of football.

I Don't Know What It Is But I Love It: Liverpool's Unforgettable 1983-84 Season
I Don't Know What It Is But I Love It: Liverpool's Unforgettable 1983-84 Season
by Tony Evans
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £11.89

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Trebles All Round, 4 Jun 2014
Dealing with it first and for those that aren’t aware of it, the title of this book comes from the Chris Rea song that was fearlessly bellowed out by the Liverpool players right in the faces of the Roma team as the two sides waited in the tunnel before walking out one spring evening in Italy to decide the outcome of the European Cup. Singing this in Rome was a reminder of the close bonding the players had enjoyed during their pre-final jaunt to Israel, where the song had been adopted as a kind of anthem by the Liverpool players as the season reached its finale.

Seven football clubs have faced the herculean task of having to play a European final at the home stadium of its opponents. Only three have been successful. This is the story of the first club to achieve that almost impossible against-the-odds task. It is very, very rare. But this is more than just the story of one cup final. The success of a football club’s season is usually judged by the trophies that have been won by the end of it. That isn’t always a true reflection of the way a team has performed but, because there are so few trophies to be handed out annually, it is usually a fair reflection. If your history is as full of trophy-winning seasons as Liverpool Football Club’s is, there are many to choose from and there will always be arguments about which was the best. Was the 1978-79 team better than the 1987-88 team, for example ? The passing of time means that success in the tangible form of trophies can often become just a year in the printed Honours’ List of a club in its home programme or the fading memory of an older supporter who lived through the time. Thankfully in Liverpool’s case a number of these trophy-winning seasons have been brought to life vividly in book form in recent years : At The End Of The Storm, Gary Shaw & Mark Platt, 1946-47; We Love You Yeah Yeah Yeah, Steven Horton, 1963-64; Ending The Seven-Year Itch, Steven Horton, 1972-73; On The March With Kenny’s Army, Gary Shaw & Mark Nevin, 1985-86; The King’s Last Stand, David Usher, 2011-12. Tony Evans continues this literary trend with a fascinating look back at a season (1983-84) in which Liverpool won three major trophies. As well as being respected as one of the finest sportswriters of his generation, Tony also writes with the authority of a supporter who attended a very high percentage of the club’s sixty-seven competitive matches during this record-breaking nine-month period.

Changing a manager can be an awkward time for a football club, especially if that manager has been successful, because clearly the club will want that to continue. Bob Paisley’s success following Bill Shankly was unprecedented but Paisley gave a full season’s notice of his intention to stand down whereas Shankly’s resignation/retirement had been a shock to all. So successful had Paisley been, not just domestically but on the continent as well, that the Liverpool job became “the vacancy almost everyone in football would have killed for”, which is why it was hugely ironic that the man who took it, the loyal Joe Fagan, did not really want it at all, believing that his strengths lay in coaching. The players Joe inherited, however, were happy enough : “Everyone respected and believed in Joe”, declared Kenny Dalglish.

Tony Evans’ account of this extraordinary season starts and ends in Israel, where the Liverpool squad was spending several days out of the two weeks that separated the final league match and the European Cup final. There were no curfews or restrictions imposed on the squad during this break with the players’ antics being watched with growing incredulity by a number of Italian journalists who knew that the Roma squad due to face Liverpool in the final was safely locked up in their own training-camp in the Dolomites, where there would most certainly be rules to obey. Surely this was no way to prepare for such an important match ? These journalists and indeed many others expected to shortly see “the public execution of a football dynasty witnessed by a global audience”. The Liverpool players’ behaviour in Tel Aviv was so extreme that one of the club’s directors, Sydney Moss, was forced to intervene when told that trouble was brewing in one of the city’s squares and went to investigate himself, only to discover that the “alcohol-fuelled boisterousness” was being caused by the club’s players not its supporters. Australian midfielder Craig Johnston, who had many run-ins with the new manager during the season about his absence from the team, described the Israel trip as brilliant and confessed on behalf of the players that “we hit the bottle as soon as we got there. It was a wild few days”. Johnston and other ex-players in this book talk fondly and frankly about the fantastic team-spirit that was present on bonding exercises like this even though it is clear that Craig was wary of the Scottish influence in the dressing-room because “the Jocks kept everyone in line” and “were always having a laugh at someone else’s expense”, often his own or the affable Steve Nicol’s. A lady who often socialised with the Liverpool players of this era declared about this tight-knit group : “They knew how to have fun but they knew how to win” and that is what this group became as the season evolved, a team of winners led by the man who had been given the captain’s armband by Bob Paisley as 1981 turned into 1982, Graeme Souness. Phil Thompson was devastated to lose the skipper’s role he had been so proud to hold; and although he did not move on to Sheffield United until late in 1984 he would suffer more acute disappointment right at the end of this eventful season by being the only one of the seventeen players who travelled to Rome not to make the match-day squad for the European final, a terrible blow for the club’s most senior player at the time.

Making Graeme Souness the captain had been a stroke of genius because he was respected as well as feared by opponents who knew that he would not hesitate to look after himself as well as his team-mates. That charismatic football journeyman Frank Worthington once described Souness as “the nastiest, most ruthless man in soccer. There is a streak in him that puts him top of the list” but even those comments show grudging respect. You crossed Souness at your peril. He would not be slow to react when provoked, something Dinamo Bucharest captain Lică Movilă could testify to after the Scotsman broke his jaw during the Anfield leg of the European Cup semi-final. Unpunished by the match-officials at the time or retrospectively, Souness was heavily targeted in the second leg in Romania but managed to keep his temper under wraps and dictate the play in his own way in one of his finest-ever performances with a Liver bird upon his chest. It wasn’t a coincidence that this Liverpool team won all four away legs en route to the European final. This was a team with a supreme confidence in its own ability and an unswerving conviction that they could beat anyone, anywhere. There were defeats, of course there were. Even the greatest individuals and teams in sport have days when things don’t go according to plan. None more so in this Liverpool season than the 4-0 mauling they took at Coventry in December, a horrible and unexpected loss that was rectified when the club from the Midlands was put to the sword 5-0 when they came to Anfield in May.

In terms of its length this season was almost as long as another championship-winning season, 1946-47. That first full season after World War Two started on the last day of August and finished on the last day of the following May. 1983-84 started with the Charity Shield at Wembley on the 20th of August and ended with the European Cup final on the 30th of May. The difference lies in the number of competitive matches … forty-eight in 1946-47 compared to sixty-seven in 1983-84. So many cup-ties in the Treble season (24) meant that Joe Fagan had to make full use of his squad even though respected administrator Peter Robinson had declared in the summer of 1983 that “our present squad is dangerously small”. Although Michael Robinson arrived from Brighton at the start of August, Ronnie Whelan missed a large chunk of the season while recovering from an injury, inspirational captain Souness missed four consecutive matches in February also through injury and the talismanic Kenny Dalglish received a horrendous facial injury on New Year’s Day from which he made a recovery so remarkable that when he trotted out at the start of the second half against Benfica in the European quarter-final at Anfield in early-March it gave the crowd and his team-mates a massive lift. Kenny’s return was “timed to perfection” and “pure theatre”. Bringing him back into action when he did was a no-risk situation for the manager because “Kenny’s presence could visibly raise his team-mates’ performances”.

Tony Evans goes through everything very neatly in chronological order from pre-season preparations to the post-season trip to Zimbabwe where the new European champions played Tottenham Hotspur twice in exhibition matches. I was slightly disappointed that there were no photographs to support the story, even though there might not be much that has not been seen already. Tony’s knowledge about Liverpool Football Club is immense because he is a supporter as well as a sportswriter. I was therefore rather surprised to find a few factual errors that frankly a man of his knowledge (or his researchers/proof-readers) ought to have spotted. Alan Kennedy did most definitely not score in a Wembley League Cup final against Tottenham Hotspur; and Ian Rush’s one-man demolition of Everton at Goodison Park took place in November 1982 not 1981 (the correct year is shown though when the same match is referenced fourteen pages later). But such errors are thankfully rare and certainly much fewer than in most football books that tell the story of a season the way this book does. Mister Evans has an excellent writing-style and he has clearly researched this book meticulously by tapping into the memories of many of the men who were at the heart of this amazing story. As you read, as this journey to glory continues to its climax, the words flow so well that it is easy for the reader to imagine that he was right there in the middle of it as well. That is a rare gift that the majority of writers can’t capture. But Tony Evans captures it and he does so well.

Nobody knew at the time this memorable season happened that seventeen years later a different group of Liverpool players would also collect three trophies in one season. Apart from in the 2011 book Joe Fagan: Reluctant Champion I don’t think this historic 1983-84 season has been dissected in such a detailed way before. That it has now can only be to the benefit of the many, many Liverpool supporters who will read this wonderful account of how a rookie manager, despite years of experience away from the limelight, led a group of resilient and determined young men on a journey that even thirty years later is still pretty hard to take in.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 19, 2014 6:15 PM BST

The Anatomy of Liverpool: A History in Ten Matches
The Anatomy of Liverpool: A History in Ten Matches
by Jonathan Wilson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £16.71

18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The key matches that shaped Liverpool Football Club's history, 25 Nov 2013
When I read Jonathan Wilson's 2008 book Inverting The Pyramid , I did struggle through parts of it. Maybe my brain is only wired to process football facts and figures and not the game's theory and tactics ? Whatever the reason, I did approach The Anatomy of Liverpool with a certain amount of trepidation, despite knowing that Mister Wilson is recognised as being one of the finest sports-writers of our time. I was worrying unnecessarily. This Anatomy (Orion had already published Jonathan's Anatomy of England in 2011) is a truly outstanding book in which the reader gets the full benefit of the author's writing talents.

In 2013 Wilson uses the same "History in Ten Matches" concept with which he approached his book about the national team two years earlier. He picks ten matches from Liverpool Football Club's history, all carefully selected because "certain games lie on the fault-lines of history. Perhaps they mark the end of one era and the start of another". The tragic match at Hillsborough is deliberately omitted because the subject-matter is "too big for a book of this nature". So we end up with ten matches but only four of the ten are cup finals, although the destiny of the English championship did rest on two of the others. Interestingly, because sports-writers are often reluctant to tackle events that they did not live through themselves, the first match took place in the 19th century towards the end of Queen Victoria's reign; and the second shortly after the end of the Second World War. All the other eight took place in more modern times (what I might call the video/dvd-age) because those matches can all be watched in their entirety and dissected minute by minute if necessary. For those early matches in 1899 and 1947, the only option is to trawl through old newspaper reports and maybe look at a few grainy photographs. Yet Jonathan's coverage of those two matches is quite sensational. As you read, you really do feel as if you are there watching and not just reading about it decades afterwards. It is a rare gift when an author can captivate a reader in that way.

Although each chapter deals with a carefully-selected match, there is a certain amount of scene-setting and post-match analysis too. That is probably best defined in the very first chapter. Most Liverpool supporters and, indeed, supporters of other clubs, know that the club was formed in the wake of a very acrimonious split between Everton, the tenants of Anfield, and that club's president, John Houlding, who was also their landlord. Houlding chose to stay and formed his own club in 1892, the modern-day Liverpool Football Club. Their rise was meteoric. At the end of only their sixth season as a Football League club, the team was poised to win the English championship as it prepared for its final match of the season, away at Aston Villa. But Villa, too, were in the same position. Both clubs had the same number of points but Villa, thanks to huge wins in their previous two fixtures, had a slightly better goal-average. Just as in another titanic end-of-season decider ninety years later, the home team knew that a draw would be enough for them to be declared champions. But the away team had to win. Unlike in 1989 the away team floundered and found themselves five goals down at the interval, from which obviously there was no way back. But Houlding's dream was still alive and he lived long enough to witness his new club finish top of the pile in 1901. "No club has ever made the journey from birth to champions so quickly, and none ever will again", is Jonathan Wilson's accurate summing-up of that achievement.

The first half of the 20th century is ignored completely, apart from the first full post-WW2 season when the club won its first silverware since 1923. "George Kay's great side (the side that won the title in 1947 and reached the club's first Wembley final three years later) contained as many bona fide Liverpool legends as any other". If younger supporters doubt that, History will put them right. Club Chairman William McConnell, a caterer by trade, took the radical but inspired decision to send his players to America during the summer of 1946 after which, suitably fattened up by non-rationed food, they were able to pace themselves through a wretched winter and a marathon First Division season that started on the last day of August and ended on the last day of May. As in 1899, everything came down to the final match. Home team Wolverhampton Wanderers had to win to be sure of finishing first; away team Liverpool had to win (which they did) and hope that Stoke City would not win their final match at Sheffield United (which they didn't).

The 1947 squad did not build on that triumph and the next ten years were difficult and included a first relegation from the top division since 1904. But so far in the past were the successes of the Nineteen-Twenties, it can reasonably be argued, declares Wilson, that "had it not been for (George) Kay, there would have been no sleeping giant (for Shankly) to awake".

Is it surprising that only two matches are chosen from Bill Shankly's reign (1959-1974) ? Not necessarily. Although the F.A. cup final of 1965 is picked, there are a few others that could have been but that cup success in the middle of the Nineteen-Sixties was the catalyst for a lot of things that happened in the years that followed. But the home-and-away European Cup defeats to Red Star Belgrade in Shankly's final season were of critical importance. The Boot Room post-mortem the next morning realised that Red Star's "control of possession had enabled them to control the game". Shankly's successor, the astute Bob Paisley, realised that tactically things had to change if the club's success under Shankly was to be maintained. Looking back on those two 1973 defeats by the Yugoslavian champions Paisley knew that "we had to learn how to be patient like that and think about the next two or three moves when we had the ball".

And so on to even more success, more European cups and more domestic titles, until the zenith of this jewel-laden journey unsurprisingly ends in Turkey in 2005. But each leg of this journey is a thrill on its own, from the 1988 destruction of Nottingham Forest ("that exhibition stands as the high point of a dominance that may never be repeated") and the recognition that manager of the time Kenny Dalglish "righted a listing ship after Heysel and sailed it through the unspeakable bleakness of Hillsborough" through "a decade of alarming post-Boot Room decline" until Steven Gerrard's trusty right boot sealed victory against Olympiakos in December 2004 with the second half of that match being "almost certainly the pivotal act in Liverpool's modern history".

Is there a negative side of this book ? Sadly, there is. Eight of the ten matches are available to watch in their entirety; and there is no doubt that one or both of Jonathan and Scott did that because the match-reports are so detailed. Because their knowledge of Liverpool Football Club's history can only have grown during their research for this book, it is quite mystifying that so many factual inaccuracies were not spotted. In chronological order we are told that the successful spot-kick taken by Willie Stevenson against Chelsea at Villa Park in the F.A. Cup semi-final of 1965 was "the only penalty he ever took for the club". He took nine, of which he missed just one. How could Alan Kennedy have scored against Club Brugge in the UEFA Cup final of 1976 when he didn't even join Liverpool until 1978 ?! Kevin Keegan's "last goal at Anfield" did not come against Zurich in the European cup semi-final of 1977 (he scored twice more in home league matches as his Liverpool career came to an end). The F.A. Cup semi-final of 1985 was not played "in a fearsome gale at Hillsborough" because it took place at Goodison Park, Liverpool; and finally, to dispel one of football's most popular myths, John Aldridge was not "the first player to miss a penalty in a Wembley final". He wasn't even the first player to miss a penalty in a Wembley final in 1988 because Arsenal's Nigel Winterburn missed one against Luton Town in the League Cup final at the national stadium twenty days before Liverpool faced Wimbledon there. Is it churlish to mention these errors ? No, I don't think so. I am just surprised that someone who is so clearly such a master of the written word could make so many mistakes. Some admittedly are small but they are errors nonetheless. Mixing up two players who have the same surname but joined Liverpool four years apart is hardly an insignificant error.

Even the finest authors who carry out the most meticulous research can get things wrong. I am sure reviewers get things wrong too! Don't let a few historical inaccuracies put you off. This is a quite stunning book that is deserving of the highest praise. It takes you on a wonderful journey through the ages. I urge you to step on board and join the party!

The Official Treasures of Liverpool FC
The Official Treasures of Liverpool FC
by David Walmsley
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.40

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A treasure trove that is 121 years old, 16 Nov 2013
This is the updated version of a book originally published towards the end of 2004. That was the year in which Gérard Houllier's reign as Liverpool manager came to an end and clearly there has been much to update in the ensuing nine years : four more managers, the club being sold twice and an extraordinary European triumph being just the bare bones onto which Messrs. Walmsley and Done have packed plenty of meat. David Walmsley is the author/journalist who has supported the club all his life and who got closer to it than most during his time as an employee of the Liverpool Echo newspaper; and Stephen Done, as curator of the club's museum, has the enviable task of deciding which treasures go on display and which have to be stored elsewhere until it is their turn to go on show. It was Stephen who chose which items should go on display to supplement David's text in this glossy hardback book. And he has chosen well because it really is fascinating to see amongst other items the contract Billy Liddell signed in 1939 and the certificate which officially confirmed the birth of Liverpool Football Club in 1892.

The club's history is told in neat chapters to which have been added photographs of the time. The main individuals who created that history deservedly get their own sections. Yes, it is a story that has already been told many times by different people. Even the club's early years have been heavily dissected since Treasures was first published. Peter Lupson's Across the Park (2008), Kjell Hanssen's Dicky Sams (2009) and Alan Wilson's Team of all the Macs (2011) have already given supporters ample opportunity to re-live those early days. So even if David Walmsley's original 2004 text has not been altered since that date, it is still a different opinion to be heard and that is always worthwhile, especially from someone as adroit a wordsmith as David clearly is. Although post-2004 has been written in the same easy-to-understand style, it is perhaps a pity that the pre-2004 text was not thoroughly checked again in case what happened in the new chapters changed the original version. I came across only three factual errors (all from the pre-2004 period), an extraordinarily low number for a story that covers over a hundred and twenty years : Kevin Keegan did not score "in both ties" against Dynamo Berlin and Dynamo Dresden in the 1972-73 season; the F.A. cup semi-final with Arsenal in 1980 went to a third not second replay; and beating Manchester United in the League Cup final of 2003 did not "preserve their unbeaten record in Cardiff" because they had lost to Arsenal there in the Community Shield match the previous August. Plus although he is probably unlikely to read this book, I don't think Alex Ferguson would be too pleased to read that Bob Paisley is "the most successful manager the English game has ever seen". At the time of Paisley's retirement (1983) he was but unfortunately he is no longer, apart from his unique European cup treble. In contrast, however, Roy Hodgson might be quite pleased to read and believe that Don Welsh "holds the dubious honour of being the only manager to be sacked by the club".

In a way it is difficult to assess exactly who this book is aimed at. It is big and pricey. It isn't the sort of thing that would fit easily into most bags never mind a pocket! Maybe in time it will become some sort of "collector's item". A copy of the 2004 version is currently on offer at over seven hundred pounds! What is beyond doubt though is the time and effort that has gone into it. In terms of the overall story, there isn't really anything that has not been told before. Perhaps the target market is more younger supporters keen to learn more about the club's whole life rather than long-standing supporters who have read and heard most or all of it before ? But it deserves to do well because of all the hard work involved. And the reproduction of so many documents ... the `treasures' referred to in the book's title ... certainly bring a different aspect to most previous books about the club that cover the same period/s.

Red All Over the World: Liverpool Football Club on Tour
Red All Over the World: Liverpool Football Club on Tour
by Steven Horton
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.64

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The multiudinous journeys of Liverpool Football Club, 12 Nov 2013
Following his excellent summary of Liverpool's trophy-winning season of 1972-73 in "Ending the Seven-Year Itch", the second in Steven Horton's trilogy in the first half of this decade changes direction completely by moving away from competitive matches and focusing on friendly matches that the club has played throughout its history. "Red All Over The World" is indeed an appropriate title because, South America apart, Liverpool Football Club has indeed travelled to pretty much every corner of the globe in its one hundred and twenty-one year history to entertain followers of the game from many different cultures and backgrounds.

Steven is a proficient and authoritative local historian as well as being extremely knowledgeable about the football club he has supported all his life. But the internet is only a recent phenomenon so there is only one way to properly research events that took place decades ago; and that is by the most painstaking detective work that usually involves spending hours trawling through old newspaper reports and articles, something this author has always been prepared to do with the utmost diligence so that he can get at the facts and then relay them to others.

Liverpool teams started travelling almost as soon as the club had been formed. In the early days some tours at the end of a season gave the club an opportunity to reward its players with a sort of `busman's holiday' because it was unable, officially anyway, to supplement a player's wages with extra payments. But the schedule was extremely demanding. In the club's inaugural season, 1892-93, twenty-five competitive matches were played (twenty-two in the Lancashire League and three in the F.A. cup) but an astonishing thirty-seven additional matches were added including seven crammed into a two-week period in the second half of April after the Lancashire League fixtures had been completed in the middle of that month. Over half those extra matches took place at Anfield and a lot of the away friendlies were not geographically far from the city of Liverpool. But there was still an arduous (for the time) trip to play Glasgow Rangers in Scotland as well as visits to Middlesbrough, Stoke and Newcastle. Scotland was a popular destination as the decade reached its end with five matches being played there (including games on a Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of the same week!) in April 1897 followed by matches at Heart of Midlothian and St. Mirren in January of the following year. Steven Horton's research for these early trips is quite phenomenal because he has unearthed details of the travel arrangements as well as details of the matches themselves; and this is a pattern which he continues through the twentieth century and beyond it as the club continued to rack up an impressive total of foreign countries visited once the overseas tours started in earnest with Scandinavia being visited in both 1910 (4 matches) and 1914 (7 matches) to which Italy and France were added in the early 1920s with other nations on the European mainland following in the 1930s (Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Romania).

There have been six tours to North America (1946, 1948, 1953, 1964, 2004 and 2012) during which a total of forty-seven matches were played against either local teams or European opponents like Porto, Roma and Hamburg who had also arranged trips across the Atlantic Ocean as part of their own pre-season preparations. The players who went in the summer of 1946 seemed to benefit particularly from the month spent in a ration-free America because they returned to Britain in prime condition for an extraordinary long First Division season (first match last day of August, final match last day of May) at the end of which George Kay's boys became English champions for the fifth time, ending a barren trophyless period of over twenty years.

Bill Shankly's arrival in late-1959 changed the whole ethos of the football club and one of the things the new manager did, although not immediately, was to look more carefully at the pre-season period and work out a plan that might help the players to peak at the right time during the season. There were still end-of-season trips to often exotic locations but in the summer of 1967 three matches were arranged against the West German clubs Cologne, Hamburg and Hannover and a number of similar one-off matches were played in both Germany and Holland in the next decade against opponents the Liverpool managers felt were ideal to meet close to the start of a new English season. It was an inspired change of plan. It probably wasn't a coincidence that the men who participated in pre-season matches in those two countries in 1972, 1975 and 1976 found themselves with a League championship medal nine months later.

Ireland, where the club has a massive fan-base and Scandinavia (particularly Norway) have seen various Liverpool teams visit and play in front of huge, passionate crowds bedecked in red. The author has drawn on the memories of supporters who attended such matches which, when added to his own meticulous research, bring the occasions to life in a most vivid and colourful way. As the club's profile rose through its unprecedented success in the 1970s and 1980s invitations continued to arrive but it wasn't of course possible to satisfy all requests although away from Europe the club did manage to get to a number of locations in the Middle East and the Far East. Swaziland had been visited for two matches against Tottenham Hotspur in the immediate aftermath of the 1984 European cup win and exactly ten years later Liverpool played three matches in South Africa, two in Johannesburg and one in Cape Town.

The club failed to capitalise on its marketing opportunities during its most successful period in terms of trophies won but its name continued to grow and thrive throughout the world in spite of two terrible tragedies and a much leaner period on the pitch. But the trophies started to return in the opening decade of a new century and with that came the chance to open new doors which resulted in the hugely successful tour to Indonesia, Australia and Thailand during the summer of 2013. The Australian leg in particular was massive with an enormous crowd of over 95,000 attending the game in Melbourne. Officials from the club regretted that it had taken so long to get there and admitted that they would be looking to return again soon given the `film-star' reception they had been given everywhere they went. The same could be said for the Indonesia and Thailand legs of this tour.

South America remains untouched and despite an influx of South American players in recent times is likely to remain so. Liverpool Football Club's good name, so horribly tarnished by Heysel, appears to have been fully restored and even enhanced. The Shankly and Paisley pre-season tours to countries in Western Europe appear to be largely consigned to the past now. L.F.C. is a global brand and has been for a long time. The club can now look at profit for the club instead of optimum fitness for its players.

Steven's book appears in neat chapters that are as much geographical as they are chronological. There are some wonderful stories in here and the tours in the first part of the twentieth century are particularly fascinating. The text is supplemented by some terrific pictures of the players and some of the locations in which they stayed as well as reproductions of match-programmes and tickets through the ages. For anyone who supports L.F.C. and who has an interest in the unusual and sometimes quirky nature of life at a big football club, this book with its stories about so many non-competitive matches is a publication to be both enjoyed and treasured.

Red Machine: Liverpool FC in the '80s: The Players' Stories
Red Machine: Liverpool FC in the '80s: The Players' Stories
by Simon Hughes
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £11.19

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stories from the famous and the not-so-famous, 11 Nov 2013
Simon Hughes is a well-known and well-respected journalist/author who is particular known in Liverpool Football Club circles for his extraordinary 2011 book about the club's chief scout Geoff Twentyman (Secret Diary of a Liverpool Scout) . Anyone who read and enjoyed that book will know that Mister Hughes always researches his subject matter diligently and thoroughly, something he again proves with this latest book about some of the players' stories from a decade in which the club added thirteen major trophies to the nine collected in the previous decade.

A cynic might ask what can anybody possibly tell us about Liverpool in the 1980s that has not already been told, in some cases many times ? The answer is plenty. Simon has selected ten players from an extraordinary decade of success, to which he has added a glimpse of the valuable knowledge of Ronnie Moran, whose chapter comes under the heading of Disciplinarian, a word many of the players interviewed firmly agree with. The author chose Moran deliberately because he is "the only person still alive with genuine inside knowledge that can contribute towards explaining why the club sustained the culture of success for so long and the mindset behind the staff that helped make the decade become Liverpool's most dominant in terms of trophies".

The choice of players is interesting because it is doubtful if anyone else (journalist, past/present player or supporter) would have picked the same ten men. At least four of the ten have either penned their own autobiographies or had biographies written about their careers. In that respect maybe there isn't too much new to learn from guys who have been interviewed at length many times before. It is the choice of some less familiar names that make this book so fascinating ... with the inclusion of Howard Gayle, David Hodgson, Kevin Sheedy and Steve Staunton. These are the men whose contribution was "comparatively minor" when compared to the "significant role" of the superstars like Bruce Grobbelaar and John Barnes. But all ten contributed something worthwhile and most left the club with something tangible in the form of medals; Gayle played in Liverpool's first team only 5 times, all in the 1980-81 season, but still has a European cup winners' medal; and although the Liverpool careers of Nigel Spackman (63 matches), Michael Robinson (52 matches) and David Hodgson (49 matches) were brief when compared to Grobbelaar (628) and Barnes (407), they too moved on from Anfield with medals to prove the impact they made. If there is an `odd man out' in this collection it has to be Kevin Sheedy because "there is no other player in the history of Liverpool to have become an undisputed top-class player elsewhere having been disregarded by the club following just a handful of first-team appearances". The player himself admits honestly : "I was probably at the right club at the wrong time", a sentiment echoed to some degree by Steve Staunton, whose return from Aston Villa in 1998 "proved to be the wrong decision".

Both Gayle and Barnes speak candidly about racism with the big difference being that "while Gayle was used to confronting racism for as long as he can remember, Barnes did not have to", not when he was growing up anyway. A lot of the players were asked at clubs they moved on to what was the secret of Liverpool's phenomenal run of success. The trite answer is that there was no secret, that (Steve Staunton's words) "Liverpool was a family club, everybody stuck together and that's why we achieved so much success". But even Ronnie Moran, who has consistently refused to put his name to any book since retiring in 1998, was cautious about giving too much away because when his interview with Simon was over he enquired : "I haven't let too much slip there, have I ?".

There is a refreshing honesty about all the interviewees and even from the men about whom books have been written before there is still something new to learn. Most readers will already know about Bruce Grobbelaar's background ... and Craig Johnston's ... and that Michael Robinson has gone on to have a very successful media career in Spain. Robinson wondrously describes the moment he tried to get new manager Joe Fagan to explain what his role would be in the team. Fagan's reply was simplicity itself ""When we get the ball we try to kick it to someone dressed the same colour as us; As a forward, Michael, kick it in the net and if you can't, kick it to someone who can". There are little gems like that throughout this book.

But there is a serious side to all these interviews as well. Grobbelaar knows that war "teaches you to appreciate life and all the good things that come with it"; and Staunton, while playing in only 55% of the competitive matches in the 1988-89 season as his days as a teenager came to a close, remains haunted by what he saw at Hillsborough and still thinks about it most days long after the initial `shell-shock' had worn off. The Irishman also brings an interesting insight into why so many of his former team-mates have chosen media careers rather than move into football management as he did : "A lot of the lads are pundits now. Maybe they could see how it changed Kenny ?". Being a manager is far more risky than being a pundit though, as Steve adds : "You have to worry about your job 24/7 because the sack is only a couple of results away".

These ten men touched greatness in the 1980s, even if the time it lasted was shorter for some than for others. If it was a golden time to be a Liverpool supporter, the same can be said for the players and, in Ronnie Moran's case, a member of the backroom team. Along with all the glory came two terrible and avoidable tragedies, events that cast a huge shadow over everything the football club stood for. Those who were in Brussels ... and Sheffield ... can never forget what they experienced on those days. It is easy to think that the players exist in a protected bubble. But as human beings they are the same as we all are and share our emotions both good and bad. Simon Hughes has got to the very core of these men, all of whom were "bracingly candid and generally comfortable to admit their own weaknesses" as they talked about their lives and careers. Craig Johnston speaks disparagingly about himself in declaring that he was "the worst player in the best team in the world". Craig made an extraordinary journey before he could pull that famous red shirt on, as did a lot of these guys as they aimed for the stars and in many cases reached them. This book encapsulates the lives of some famous and some not-so-famous players who wore the liver bird on their chests with pride. With varying degrees of success, sure. But they still carried the hopes and dreams of the supporters on their young shoulders. And they should be remembered even if their time at the club was brief. They are remembered here and they deserve to be. The author could have made several different selections of ten men to satisfy the criterion he laid down for himself in the book's title. Whichever ten he chose, it is doubtful if he could have done a better job than the one he achieved with the men he went with. These individual stories are about honesty with a very big capital H. Readers will be thrilled to learn so much more about the life of a professional footballer at a big and successful club.
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Ex-Reds Remembered: 50 Liverpool Players Of The 80s, 90s and 00s
Ex-Reds Remembered: 50 Liverpool Players Of The 80s, 90s and 00s
by Steven Speed
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.49

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fifty Famous Reds from a Thirty-Year Period, 2 Oct 2013
If you picked a dozen supporters at random coming out of Anfield after watching a Liverpool home match and asked them to name their greatest-ever fifty players to have represented the club, there is a better than even chance that a lot of them would go back no further than 1992, the year that Sky attempted to reinvent the game of football. Some might be able to go back into the three decades that started with the "Swinging Sixties" and include men who played in those thirty years. But even fewer would be able to go back to the Second World War and beyond, even though the deeds of the likes of Elisha Scott, Ephraim Longworth and Alex Raisbeck to name just three old-timers are becoming more well-known thanks to the plethora of sources now available to a football club's fan-base.

In making his own choices Steven Speed has deliberately restricted himself only to men he has a personal memory of. Born and brought up on Merseyside before moving via New Zealand to Canada in 2005, the author has a large memory-bank to draw on as he witnessed at close quarters some of the most iconic matches Liverpool Football Club has ever been involved in and some of the most eminent men who have ever represented that club. After arriving in Canada, Steven became heavily involved with the Supporters' Club in Vancouver (LFC Vancouver) and has been their president for the last five years. Steven and a friend, Keith, started writing articles about past players for LFC Vancouver's newsletter ... but this was eventually a task that Steven continued on his own, until he realised that there were enough articles for a book about the players they had been writing about to be the next logical step. With a British degree in both English Language and Literature behind him, he was clearly qualified to be the man behind the book himself.

Mister Speed omitted a number of major club legends (Carragher, Dalglish, Rush and Thompson for example) when making his final selection, believing that "there are enough articles and books written about the really big names and I am not sure I can really add to what is already out there." That's a fair enough comment but I think he might still have had difficulty whittling down his names to a nice round fifty, especially when thinking about the first decade covered in his book because Liverpool teams had so much success in the 1980s.

Of the fifty men selected who represented this one English club in the Eighties, Nineties and Noughties, it is interesting to note that just eighteen are English with the nationality of two of those, Mark Lawrenson & John Aldridge, being open to question because they represented the Republic of Ireland at international level despite being born in Lancashire. Eighteen of the fifty are neither British nor Irish including eleven of the seventeen selected for the final decade, a figure which reflects the number of players who became free to move from country to country because of the expansion of the European Union member states. Intriguingly, two managers are included. Roy Evans certainly isn't in as a player because he only made eleven first-team appearances for Liverpool between 1970 and 1973, long before the criteria for qualifying for this book. But he was a trophy-winning manager (1995) as was Gérard Houllier (2001 & 2003) and for that reason alone they deserve their place in this top fifty.

There is little doubt that this book has been well-researched as well as well-written. I am, however, quite fussy about historical inaccuracies in football books because it is proof that however meticulous the research has been, the facts have not been checked thoroughly enough. I found several factual errors that a lot of readers might miss but because Steven Speed lived through the times he is writing about, I feel that he should have picked up on some of what follows and what follows is only taken from the first section of the book about the Nineteen-Eighties : John Aldridge was not the first man to miss a penalty in an F.A. cup final (that dubious honour had fallen to Aston Villa's Charlie Wallace seventy-five years earlier); Graeme Souness did not come on as a substitute in the 1982 League cup final (he started and played the entire 120 minutes) and his team was never two goals behind in this match; Jan Mølby missed three penalties for Liverpool not two; John Barnes did not score a penalty in the replayed F.A. cup semi-final of 1989; and Gary Gillespie did not score the goal against Derby County that clinched the 1990 League championship (the title had been sealed in the previous match against Queens Park Rangers three days earlier).

A large percentage of the author's Top Fifty have had biographies written about their careers or penned their own autobiographies. Steven Speed's portraits of these men compress each career into a few pages instead of several different chapters. He does that well and what I liked particularly was the information about each player's career both before and after they were employees of Liverpool Football Club. I also liked the many anecdotes about certain players that helped to create a guide to their character or temperament. It is a good book, perhaps even a good reference book avoiding the need to look at other sources for information. I was a bit disappointed that there were no photographs to support the text. But I was more disappointed at the factual errors, most of which were avoidable and could have been eradicated with more meticulous research.

These Turbulent Times: Liverpool FC's Search for Success
These Turbulent Times: Liverpool FC's Search for Success
by Paul Tomkins
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.96

4.0 out of 5 stars Very turbulent times for Liverpool Football Club, 18 Sep 2013
Paul Tomkins, a respected and well-known writer in Liverpool F.C. circles, began writing for the club's official website in 2005. This led to the birth four years later of The Tomkins Times, a subscription-based online forum or sounding-board for discussing and dissecting the club's business on and off the field which has continued to grow and flourish. Through the whole of this period Paul has put his name to a number of football books of interest to Liverpool's legions of supporters throughout the world, perhaps most notably "Above Us Only Sky" (2007) and "Dynasty: Fifty Years of Shankly's Liverpool" (2008).

The title of this latest book is appropriate. The times about which Paul Tomkins and others write were indeed turbulent and maybe still are. Incoming owner John William Henry realised that only too well when he declared that "this club should never again run up debts that threaten its existence". I think it is important to stress "Tomkins and others" as the authors because this isn't a one-man show by any means. Paul has collected around him a group of equally-accomplished writers and so "These Turbulent Times" consists of a series of articles written over the past four years by several individuals, all of whom share an interest in and/or passion for Liverpool Football Club but who also have quite different skills and methods of disseminating their opinions.

Perhaps the multi-authorship of this book is both a strength and a weakness ? When you get used to one person's style of writing, it can be tricky to switch without a break to someone else's style a few pages later especially if the next person's forte turns out to be a myriad of facts and figures, graphs and charts that are far from easy on the eye. Yes, it is easy to praise the meticulous research that has led to the construction of graphs about, for example, FFPR (Financial Fair Play Rules) or Transfer Price Index Predictions. But readers used to what I might call `basic prose' are likely to find the statistic-related articles pretty hard going.

Perhaps struggling through those chapters made me enjoy and look forward to the `basic prose' more, something Paul Tomkins himself is most proficient at ... the sort of articles which endeared him to visitors to the club's website for a long time and which helped to make his name so prominent in football circles. Nowhere is that more obvious than in a quite wonderful article originally written in 2012 called Rushian Roulette, a stirring account of the life and times of one Ian Rush. But there is some heavy stuff mixed up with the deeds of certain iconic players like Ian Rush and John Barnes. Hillsborough survivor Chris Rowland writes beautifully and emotively in "We Were The Victims; It Wasn't Our Fault"; and on the same theme Neil Dunkin's "A Doctor At Hillsborough" reveals that the doctor in question, a Glyn Phillips from Scotland, could finally confidently say despite numerous setbacks in trying to get at the truth : "I believe that Lord Taylor did a great job in deciding what was the root cause of the disaster".

So this is very much a mixed bag of different topics and in that respect it probably has something for everyone ... the statistician, the mathematician, the analyst, the businessman, the financier and the man in the street. Few will find every single chapter/article to their taste and some chapters will definitely need more brain cells to decipher than others. Paul Tomkins was privileged to have his finger on the pulse of Liverpool Football Club during a most difficult period in the club's existence. It was a pulse that nearly stopped completely and this diverse collection of articles neatly recalls the `medicine' that was required to keep that heart beating because ... from Martin McLaughlin's chapter "Football, Finance, Liverpool and the Top Six" that "£80m wasted on sacking managers and a phantom stadium" was indeed "the mess which F.S.G. found the club in when they arrived". From this book we can be reassured that the mess is slowly being sorted out. Maybe soon these turbulent times will just be a nasty memory of the big, black hole into which the club nearly disappeared.

Like I Say... The Story of the 2012-13 Season
Like I Say... The Story of the 2012-13 Season
Price: £2.06

5.0 out of 5 stars An escellent summary of a year in the life of a football club, 28 July 2013
Artists usually try to follow up initial success with something similar or something better. Sometimes it works and sometimes it does not. If I restrict myself to Liverpudlian artists only, Gerry and the Pacemakers' "I Like It" was even more successful than "How Do You Do It"; similarly, two decades later "Two Tribes" gave Frankie Goes to Hollywood as much success as "Relax" had done, although not the same notoriety as their first single, which had been banned by the BBC.

Writers too face the same pressure to follow up one successful book with another. The task is made easier if, however good you are at stringing sentences together, you already have a captive audience. David Usher certainly has that, an army of admirers who have chuckled their way through his diary in "The Liverpool Way" fanzine for many years and who know that he will always write with honesty and knowledge about the football club that has dominated his life. The modern expression wysiwyg (what you see is what you get) applies to Dave perfectly; and new recruits to this clever wordsmith's army will be just as thrilled with "Like I Say" as any of his committed and regular readers.

"Like I Say" continues neatly on from "The King's Last Stand" as a manager idolised by the club's fan-base is dispensed with by the American owners and replaced by a much younger man with a lot to prove but who seems to embrace the ethos of the club's history and traditions much quicker than the man appointed by the previous American owners in 2010 ... and it could be argued that that first man did not embrace them at all. The name of the manager apart, the two books are written in a very similar style. In monthly chapters Dave dissects every one of Liverpool's fifty-three competitive matches during the 2012-13 season and then comments almost as comprehensively on all the other Premier League fixtures as the season progresses. The coverage of these non-Liverpool matches again shows his absolute commitment to his project as he sits through hours and hours of football highlights, many of which would obviate the need for anyone to ever take any medication to get them to sleep.

As you might expect, there are heroes and villains throughout this narrative. The author's venom towards anything connected with Stoke City has not been diluted by a summer break between seasons so Messrs. Pulis and Walters, for instance, come in for some seriously vitriolic blows. But Tony Pulis need not feel that he has been deliberately picked out of a bunch. Plenty of other Premier League bosses can feel the tip of Mister Usher's verbal sword grazing their skin ... and often going deep inside it ... with Newcastle's Alan Pardew being the victim of Dave's incredulity that a modern-day club could justify handing out an eight-year contract, especially a club that seems to change its manager as frequently as this one does. In 2011-12 Junior Hoilett was the favourite player away from Anfield to whom Dave devoted a lot of text, even though that season ended in the disappointment of relegation for both the player (then at Blackburn Rovers) and his manager (Steve Kean), another man who received much positive attention during that season with Dave eventually having to admit that his genial attitude to both was probably misguided because Rovers went down, although Hoilett did retain Premier League status by moving to Queens Park Rangers in the summer of 2012 whereas poor Steve was "forced to resign" (his words) at the end of September, declaring that his position at Ewood Park had become `untenable'. Hoilett is replaced in Dave's affection by Southampton's Jason Puncheon and this time the story has a happier ending as The Saints narrowly avoid falling into the abyss that Blackburn were unable to avoid.

Dave says exactly what he feels ... and he clearly feels what a lot of us are feeling as well. The difference is that he is not afraid to say what he feels and he doesn't particularly care who he upsets or offends because it is after all only one man's opinion, even if those opinions often comfortably seem to cross the line that separates heavy criticism from the risk of a libel action being taken against him. But this is a several-chuckles-a-page book and you will have to put it down many times as you read something that you wish you had had the cojones to write or say yourself. A manager's exit from a club (Yes, I'm looking at you Mister Ferguson and you Mister Pulis) does not mean that you escape David Usher's wrath. Actually, your retirement or, in the case of Pulis, dismissal makes you an even sharper target than before.

For the second season running, the author has to analyse in detail another incident involving Luis Suarez that brought shame to both the player and his club. But there is no attempt to hide behind the facts; Dave knows, as all Liverpool supporters know, that what Suarez did was "indefensible".

So Dave has done what Gerry Marsden and Holly Johnson did ... followed one big hit with another. I don't know if he has plans to continue the sequence in a year's time. But I hope he does. And I hope that the next time he writes about a year in the life of Liverpool Football Club, he will have tangible success to report back on not just the promise of success.

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