Top critical review
on 20 September 2013
I've been a West Ham fan since 1973 and Tony Cottee is without doubt a Hammers legend, so I was really looking forward to reading this book. I'd read extracts from it in Ex (the Retro West Ham fanzine) that whetted my appetite, so I ordered this book.
The chapters covering the later years of Cottee's career were interesting, however the rest of the book is average at best, and at worst, a chore to read. When Tony talks of his attempt to get a consortium together to buy West Ham, it seemed to be page after page of "I know so and so who is a West Ham fan. He said he knew so and so who may have money to invest. I flew to meet so and so, but nothing came of it". Basically all you need to know is, eventually Tony got a consortium together which included the Icelandics who eventually took over the club. The Icelandics nicked Tony's consortiums ideas and took over the club on their own.
It is the chapter entitled "Looking Forward" that I found the weakest part of the book. A few half-baked and poorly thought out ideas of how Tony feels English football should go. He states that Rangers and Celtic should be allowed into the English Premier League. That's another debate of course, but he states "They should have to battle their way up from the Championship". Why? Why not the Conference, if they should be allowed in at all?? There are clubs in lower divisions than the Championship (Wolves, Coventry, Luton and Sheffield United, to name but four) who have a long history of top-flight football who would be more than a little miffed at Scottish teams jumping the queue. He then says that the loss of revenue to other clubs in the Scottish Premier League "could be alleviated by allowing Rangers and Celtic to continue to play in the Scottish FA Cup". How can a few cup fixtures replace the revenue of league games?? And what about the clubs that don't draw Celtic or Rangers in the Scottish Cup??
Cottee then states that to revive the FA Cup, it should be the "final game of the English season". Fair enough. But then he states that there should be a "three week mid-winter break after the New Year's Day fixtures" (for Premiership clubs only!!)which should lead into the FA Cup third round "At the end of January". How this would work isn't made clear. The FA Cup third round is normally at the BEGINNING of January, so there would be more fixture congestion towards the end of the season, teams fighting for European places or to avoid relegation would then field weaker teams in the cup to prioritise their league fixtures, and there would be a mad scramble to fit everything in before the FA Cup Final. And what if there was a World Cup or European Championship that summer? Complaints of fixture congestion and tired players.
All in all, very disappointing and not what I expected.