Customer Review

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An insiders view of the England football team 1958 to 1970, 7 Nov. 2008
This review is from: My England Years: The Autobiography (Hardcover)
Although this is the second part of Bobby Charltons autobiography, it would be more accurate to think of it as being Bobby Charltons biography of the England football team from 1958, when he made his debut, to 1970, when he played his final England game, in the cruel defeat to West Germany in the Mexico World Cup.

As most of his autobiographical details were dealt with in the first book, the Manchester United Years, this book is almost totally devoted to football and there is very little of Bobby Charlton the man (as opposed to Bobby Charlton the footballer) in it. This is not meant as a critism because, like the first one, this is an excellent book.

It is largely forgotten now but fifty years ago the England football team was in a bit of the mess. At one stage - between 1958 & 1959 - they only won one game in eleven, and that was against an extremely weak USA team. As this book explains, the then manager, Walter Winterbottom, tried his best to build a winning team but he had an impossible task because in those days the England manager had very limited powers, having to refer most things, even team selection, to an FA committee. It was only after the arrival of the single-minded Alf Ramsey, in 1963, that things started to change for the better.

Being an integral part of Ramseys team (even if Sir Alf made sure that Charlton was aware that not even his place in the team was guaranteed)Bobby Charlton was well placed to cast judgement on his role in turning England into World Champions in 1966. He explains that to win the World Cup, Ramsey built a team containing not the eleven best English players but instead the eleven players who one do the best job as a TEAM. This is why the free scoring Jimmy Greaves did not play in the World Cup Final but instead the lesser talented Geoff Hurst did.

Although, quite rightly, the bulk of the book is about the 1966 World Cup and the build up towards it, Bobby Charltons two other World Cup campaigns, in 1962 & 1970, are well covered. The story of Englands quarter final defeat to West Germany after being two goals up and coasting is particuarly absorbing reading as there were many interesting side stories - Franz Beckenbauers marking job on Charlton, Gordon Banks's bad stomach, Englands capitulation after Charlton was substituted, Bobby Moore being accused of theft - involved.

A very good book, and together with 'The Manchester United Years' surely amongst the best fooball autobiographies ever written.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 12 Jul 2010 21:10:04 BDT
sensible and thought provoking review, really whets the appetite!! thanks
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Bantam Dave
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   

Location: Bradford, UK

Top Reviewer Ranking: 480