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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing behind the scenes look at football
I picked up this book on the recommendation of some fellow fans and thought it was a great read.

Well paced, well written and very revealing The Nowhere Men gives a detailed account of what goes on behind the closed doors of the scouting rooms and the interactions the clubs have with them.

What caught me by surprise was the very downbeat tone of much...
Published 18 months ago by Mr. A. Locatelli-malacrida

versus
1.0 out of 5 stars Reading the cover the reviews make it sound great, however I found it slow and that it ...
Reading the cover the reviews make it sound great, however I found it slow and that it didn't flow. It doesn't lead you on a story, it is more a recollection of mismatched experiences and overheard conversations. The idea is still very good, as an insight into an world few see, but I personally struggled to finish it.
Published 23 days ago by Gary Brooks


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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing behind the scenes look at football, 9 Sept. 2013
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This review is from: The Nowhere Men (Kindle Edition)
I picked up this book on the recommendation of some fellow fans and thought it was a great read.

Well paced, well written and very revealing The Nowhere Men gives a detailed account of what goes on behind the closed doors of the scouting rooms and the interactions the clubs have with them.

What caught me by surprise was the very downbeat tone of much of the book and the bleakness experienced by the scouts both in the places they visit and the disposable nature of their profession. But this serves to make the book more compelling and proves it really is a 'warts and all' expose of what really goes on in football.

No punches are pulled and whilst there is an inherent sympathy for the people within the scouting profession, they are always kept at arms length to really analyse what they do and the differing schools of thought inherent in football.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, 10 Sept. 2013
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This review is from: The Nowhere Men (Hardcover)
Every football fan will love this book that provides fascinating insight into the world of scouting - from old school methods to new technological demands. Whilst the game may be richer than ever before, the scouts are often working many hours for pittance. Despite being a huge football supporter, football books had gone a bit stale on me. This book reversed the trend and was very hard to put down - brilliantly written, highly recommended.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Original and thought provoking, 8 Aug. 2013
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This review is from: The Nowhere Men (Kindle Edition)
Amazon currently offer over 15,000 books on football and I am sure that the overwhelming majority are the ghosted memoirs of the latest pampered Premier League brat and originality is hard to come by.

Mike Calvin has been around Fleet Street for many years and has established a reputation for pithy columns that get to the nub of the matter and for his ability to eviscerate cant and hypocrisy.

His previous book "Family", a year in the life of Millwall took us inside the heart and soul of a football club and made us look at the club in a totally new light. The book was rightly acclaimed even if it wasn't totally original as he was following the example set by writers such as Hunter Davies but "The Nowhere Men" is totally different in every way.

Calvin has broken new ground and cast light on a hitherto ignored and unknown segment of the game, the scouts who are responsible for identifying and maintaining the pipeline of young talented players, some as young as the age of six.

He follows a group of scouts and becomes the fly on the wall, recording their conversations, insecurities, fears, whinges and even paranoia as they strive to discover the next potential superstar.

Like most people who spend an inordinate period of their lives working alone on the road and then on their backsides at football matches most scouts are garrulous individuals and their stories are explicit, razor sharp and do not spare the guilty and Calvin is an excellent listener and this book gives them their voice.

There are many footballers who will shrink at the honesty of the withering verdicts of their ability or heart or lack of it and their weaknesses are laid bare by the group of scouts whose job it is to assess em.

Men like the evergreen John Griffin and Mel Johnson are seasoned watchers of the game and able to make detailed assessements of a player's ability and likelihood to make a living from the game within a few moments of watching them.

You learn to watch the player and not the game itself which apparently is why many managers make poor scouts as they lack the singleminded ness required.

What is amazing is the cavalier fashion in which many scouts are treated, disposed of like old socks when a manager loses his job, working for expenses only and likely victims of the next palace revolution.

Calvin gives them their voice and reveals them as the unsung heroes that they are.

We hear fisherman's tales of the ones that got away and for all their camaraderie. and sense of togetherness the scouts are competing against eachother and try to pull the wool over their rivals' eye.

Calvin also lays open the current debate regarding the value of the traditional scout who trusts his eye, experience and judgment when assessing a player and the new breed of performance analysts who follow the Moneyball tradition of using statistics to make their choices.

There is an uneasy relationship between the two and this is a struggle that will continue.

The rich get richer but it is gratifying to read of smaller clubs such as Brentford who are punching way above their weight and are outperforming the bigger boys in the way in which they structure their youth development programme.

The book is 390 pages of pure gold dust, well written, sympathetic and insightful.

It did beg a few questions. Are there any female scouts and if not, why not as women are now contributing so well at all levels of the game?

We learn about the extraordinary range of player performance statistics provided by companies such as Prozone which are used by clubs to learn so much about how their own players perform in matches and training. Can clubs purchase such data about players at competitive clubs to help decide who best to purchase?

As you can see I finished this book bubbling with enthusiasm and having learned so much more about the Nowhere Men.

This is a totally original book that breaks new ground and it is sure to cause a stir within the game as well as provide rich entertainment to those who choose to read it.

I said at the time that Mike Calvin would do well to better "Family" but in this reader's opinion he has totally surpassed it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!!, 5 Sept. 2013
This review is from: The Nowhere Men (Hardcover)
A fantastic read - Whether you are on the outside looking into the game or already in the inner the circle, this book is fascinating. An amazing and unique insight to a side of the game that is steeped in folklore. Highly Recommended to anyone interested in the game.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "There's Gold in them there waters", 30 Sept. 2013
This review is from: The Nowhere Men (Hardcover)
"The shiniest gold is found in the murkiest waters" An enthralling and totally absorbing account of life as a football scout. Football books are like chicken takeaway shops, so many, so much choice, so much disappointment. This book is the Michelin starred restaurant amongst them! A feast for serious fans.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating insight into one of the lesser known elements of football, 7 Oct. 2013
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This review is from: The Nowhere Men (Hardcover)
To add context I read this book in a week, and if I'm honest, I think that's how it needs to be read.

It's a fascinating insight into the world of scouting, and more importantly, the people who give so much, for so little, and are being marginalised more and more, as football becomes richer and richer and attempts to become more risk adverse.

It's a book that for me started slowly, with good reason. It builds characters which comes to fruition halfway through as you feel as though you know the main characters (I think I can almost visualise Mel and his son Jamie Johnson).

Overall I found the book to boil down to the age old battle, between art and science. The art comes from the traditional scout, who can watch a player time and time again, and their "gut" will tell them if they are top quality (take the story about Rocastle as a perfect example) while the science element comes from the data analysts, the new boys, the "geeks".

It provides a brilliant balance, and while I feel Michael errs towards the traditional scout as his favourite, he essentially gives good arguments for both.

In the end, I know a lot of people who would enjoy reading this book. I don't think it's necessarily one for the "Championship Manager" generation, but rather those who feel they understand the intricacies of football, but after reading this, will probably admit, myself included, they haven't got a clue.

A thoroughly brilliant holiday read and I would easily read another of Michael's books in a heartbeat.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Another Calvin Masterpiece, 23 Aug. 2013
This review is from: The Nowhere Men (Hardcover)
Like other reviewers perhaps keen on new angles in the very much over saturated Football book market I was drawn to this following Mr Calvin's previous book, Family.

Despite my hitherto well rounded knowledge of the beautiful game the subject of scouting is something I have to say has never really prompted much attention or thought. This book certainly does that. With Calvin's insightful and well researched journalistic approach to the subject we get to meet the characters who fulfill such a vital yet often under valued role. Poorly paid, little security, easily dispensed with in the industry of bottom line figures and immediate results.

What Calvin manages to do, as with Family, is write in such a descriptive and compassionate way so as to make the reader feel they are a bystander in the fascinating conversations he is engaged in. Clearly his journalistic approach & background allows him to build relationships and trust in a field seemingly besmirched with dishonesty and a lack of loyalty.

The book explores the top European clubs as well as the grass roots and it was interesting to read of long since retired players travelling the length and breadth of the country in the veign hope of identifying hidden treasure, so to speak. These same individuals whose life remains football and for whom scouting is a means of moving onto bigger and more lucrative roles in the game as well as of course the gratitude and fulfillment of finding the next top star or just a journeyman pro able to carve out a career in the game.

My advice; forget the cliched autobiographies, the easily put together short attentions span books aimed at the nouveau-Sky football fans and purchase this brilliantly researched and well written 'muck and nettles' work by Mr Calvin. He has a writing style that means it is hard not almost feel an emotional attachment to the book at the end. I have a new found respect for the thousands of scouts in the game and an equal amount for Michael Calvin - fine work again Sir!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb, 13 Aug. 2013
This review is from: The Nowhere Men (Hardcover)
A truly fascinating look into a world pretty much untouched by sports' writers.

Honest, candid and highly entertaining, this book reveals the intricacies of football scouting across all levels of the game. Some great individual stories and interesting anecdotes from those working in this secret footballing underworld. A marvellous sports book, Calvin's style and inquisitive approach really is a joy to read...
This book MUST sweep the boards when the awards are dished out. Highly recommended. You will not be disappointed!

Bravo, Mr Calvin....
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended!, 5 Sept. 2013
This review is from: The Nowhere Men (Hardcover)
Fantastic read, a really good insight into scouting in the football industry. Highly recommended to everyone! Struggled to put this amazing book down.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific, 12 May 2014
This review is from: The Nowhere Men (Hardcover)
This isn't just one of the best books ever written about football, it's one of the best non-fiction books of recent years. Calvin's exploration of the world of scouts, an area of the game not frequently covered by the mainstream media is utterly enthralling and immersive from the first page.

In many ways this book would be enjoyed by those without even a passing interest in the game due to the lively and astute observations that the author excels in. The characters are rich and vivid, his eye for detail is precise, and together it makes this a joy to read from start to finish.

If anything this is football's Moneyball. While that book looked at the use of statistics in baseball, following Billy Beane's Oakland A's, this offers a similar glimpse behind the curtain at a hitherto hidden part of the game. What set that book apart was the human element, similarly here it really gets under the skin of people like Dean Austin, Mel Johnson and John Griffin, understanding what makes people devote their lives to unearthing the next superstar, despite earning a pittance for their efforts.

This book comes highly recommended.
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The Nowhere Men
The Nowhere Men by Michael Calvin (Hardcover - 8 Aug. 2013)
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