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on 6 November 2010
When I first read Eamon Dunphey's insight into my beloved Millwall Football Club it was my first forray into football literature. I wrongly assumed this was how all football books were written and that set me up for some serious disappointment as I read other footballers autobiographies over the next few years! Not until Steve Claridge wrote 'Tales from the Boot Camps' did something come close to offering a proper window into how football works. 'Family' offers something dififerent to both of these works by virtue of it's modern day setting. Football has changed beyond all recognition from the game I started watching in the late 80's but Millwall are extremely fortunate that the bond between fans and players is still relatively close. As a kid Millwall was part of my extended family and now my younger brothers are experiencing the same feeling 20 years on. This book captures that with its tales of Neil Harris visiting fans in hospital and injured players joining the fans in the crowd and leading them in song.

The book itself has a Hollywood ending with promotion at Wembley in the playoffs (sorry, a spoiler there that is equivalent to revealing the iceberg bit in Titanic!) but the ending doesn't really matter. It's the journey rather than the destination and had Millwall fallen at the final hurdle it wouldn't have detracted from the insight into the club under the current regime.

'Family' affords you an opportunity to see how a modern lower league football club (with it's fair share of problems) works. It's a world where kids dreams are dashed in a heartbeat, where a years rehabilition can be set back with one bad tackle, where WAGS are worried about moving the kids schools and meeting the mortgage payments rather than which designer handbag to buy.

As a Millwall fan I always knew how special this club was but Michael Calvin has put it onto paper for a larger audience to see. I really hope this book is read by other clubs supporters because however much you hate us I swear you will have just a little bit more respect for us afterwards. If nothing else you will be writing to ask if Michael can follow your side for a year!
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on 25 October 2010
Over 35 years ago Hunter Davies broke new ground when he was given total access to Tottenham Hotspur for a season and the result was ¨The Glory Game¨, a true classic in football writing.

I have long been waiting for something as good and Michael Calvin has more than come up with the goods with this well written and insightful insider's view of Millwall's promotion season to the Championship.

So authentic that you can smell the sweat and linament, he has got inside every aspect of the club, both on and off the pitch and truly answered a good reporter's key questions - Who, What, Why, Where and When.

This book is a real gem and deserves to do well.
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on 4 November 2010
I'm a QPR fan so I wasn't sure at first whether a book about Millwall would interest me; but a friend - who is a Millwall fan - urged me to read it. True the basic structure of `Family' is a game by game account of Millwall's successful promotion campaign into the Championship - capped by winning the League One Wembley play off final in May 2010 - and as such of particular appeal to Millwall fans; but nevertheless the author describes each match so vividly that you can't help but be taken along with the high and lows of the season. It's clear however from the first page and throughout each of the 300 plus pages following that the writer - Michael Calvin - is using last year's campaign as a vehicle, a way of telling the reader not about Millwall perse but about football in general. This is a book about the nuts and bolts of football - real football; not the fantasy football of the Premier League distorted by Sky TV revenue, Middle East Oil Sheiks and Russian oligarchs, but of a real world football where lack of funds is of necessity replaced by the passion and sheer compulsion of the people involved. Very skilfully the author has threaded fifty plus voices throughout the book - voices that to his credit are incredibly candid and genuine - weaving them all together into what is essentially a primary source oral history of what makes up a football club in 2010. From the shareholders, to the chairman, the chief executive, the club QC through to the playing staff - the manager, coaches, physios, scouts and players - and on to the police, members of the local community and of course the fans - each is given a voice to express their roles, opinions, hopes and reflections. I finished the book last week and at three o'clock Saturday as I sat with my son before kick off - QPR vs Burnley - I looked at the fans around me, at the Director's Box, the managers and coaches in the dug outs and the players waiting for the whistle and for the first time - because of what I'd learned from `Family' - I had a real insight into how my football club was run. I would highly recommend the book to all fans of football.
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on 23 August 2013
First of all I am not a Millwall fan - I'm a football fan who just happens to love Sheffield United. I bought this book on the strength of the Nowhere Men written by the same author which I loved. I went into this book not liking Millwall and accepting all the hype surrounding the club and more particularly their fans. I ended the book with a new found respect for the club and most of the fans (let's be honest all clubs - my own included - have their fair share of idiots who drag the clubs name into the mud whilst the vast silent majority suffer the barbs of the rest of the football world in dignified silence. The difference with Millwall is that they use this notoriety and the fact that "everyone hates us" as a badge if honour and a motivation and I have a grudging respect for that.
As with The Nowhere Men this book has been meticulously researched by the author. The club had given the author unfettered access to all aspects of the club during the season they were promoted to the championship via the playoffs. The insights to what goes on behind the scenes is fascinating, illuminating and brilliantly written. The book does look at the darker side of Millwall - it isn't just sunshine and roses - but what comes through is the decency of the club, a club that has probably done more than any club in British football to counter racism, homophobia and hooliganism, but that doesn't make front page headlines does it?
At the end I realised Millwall is what football clubs used to be - rooted in their local communities, run for their fans rather than the prawn sandwich brigade. It's a proper club with proper players and some proper people running it. I dont hate Millwall any more, in fact I quite like them now but I still wouldn't want to be an opposition winger at the New Den.
Michael Calvin is a great writer and I urge you to buy this book, especially if you don't like Millwall, read it and I guarantee you will change your mind!
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on 27 February 2012
I could not put this book down! It gave a genuine insight into the goings on of Millwall and was very well written! At times it made you feel like you were THERE - inside the changing rooms, on the pitch, in the thick of it, through the good times and the bad! It made you feel closer to the club. It gave you respect for the players and respect for Kenny Jackett. In parts it made you want to be a better person yourself - to strive to have the determination, strength and 'want it' attitude that the players strive to. It took me on an emotional rollercoaster!!

An amazing book. I would recommend it to everyone!!
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on 25 November 2010
As a fan of the club who travels home and away this was one those things I felt obliged to buy to remember one of the best seasons in recent years.

What I wasn't expecting was the detail and quality of writing. I couldn't put the book down, choosing to miss the champions league games this week (with which I can't relate) to read it.

The author doesn't attempt to make the players out to be anything they're not. He becomes one of the lads and shows them as human beings who do a job they love.

Mr. Calvin - I think most will consider you real 'wall after reading this.
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on 23 March 2012
Calvin tells it like it is in this warts-and-all account of Millwall's 2009/10 season which culminated with victory at Wembley in the League One play-off final.
Manager Kenny Jackett in particular emerges as a heroic leader, putting personal tragedy aside to inspire his squad.
This book deserved much more media coverage - it's required reading for all football fans, especially those who think the game begins and ends in the Premier League.
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on 7 November 2010
Firstly let me say I am a Millwall fan although some will say 'not real wall' due to my lack of a season tickets and attendance at away games. That said I have been supporting my club since the age of 5 when my grandad took me to my first game at the old Den and do go to as many games as I can each season. Thank god for lions player!

This book shows the real life world of football ouside of the premiership; how 80% of football clubs operate with the sparse resources available to them. It shows that most of our footballers do not earn a years wage in a week and really do care for their fans and club rather than their wage packet. It brings football back down to earth and back home. It follows the management team closly showing us the managers daily fight against injuries, how they manage relationships and the deal with the odd inflated ego as well as playing a father figure or friend.

Its a shame the author isn't around every week to give us the real low down rather than the what the TV want us to see and the papers what they want us to read.

Thoroughly recommend this to any football fan who wants a refreshing real world insight into football today.
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on 1 November 2010
This is an extraordinary book - an acutely observed record of what it is really like inside an English professional football club which neither rewrites or softens any of the participants, nor sells them short as human beings. If you thought the whole of football had been transformed by the tide of money passing through the Premier League, this is an eloquent rebuttal - just one division away (or two, as was the case for Millwall at the start of the 2009-10 season), life is difficult and precarious and more about building character than a nest egg, let alone surplus millions. But it can also be redemptive; not because of one nailbiting promotion season, but because of a sense of shared history and values based on complete commitment. They may not specifically care if anyone likes them, but care they do. Perhaps this is why, after "Only a Game" by Eamon Dunphy, the club has now inspired a second enduring classic of football literature.
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on 19 December 2011
cant recomend this book highly enough! could not put it down! got through it in a day and a half and just wished it didnt end! great book! well done Mr Calvin!!!
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