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Tales from the Dugout Paperback – 19 Oct 2015
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About the Author
Richard Gordon is the long-time presenter of BBC Radio Scotland's Sportsound and a life-long Aberdeen FC fan. His passion for football was sparked by the 1970 Scottish Cup semi-final, his beloved Dons winning that day and going on to beat Celtic to lift the silverware. He followed the club throughout their glory years and remains a passionate supporter in these less successful times. He lives in Fintry.
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I bought this book after reading a good review of it in "When Saturday Comes" and the book really exceeded my expectations. These days, we have reached a point where books about football have achieved really high standards and perhaps raised it to the level of a science. In some ways, this book in old-fashioned in accounting the conflicts and many amusing stories relating to incidents in the dug out. There are stories told by managers, assistant managers, players, referees and even pitch side commentators all of which serve to be the antithesis of something like another excellent read, "Inverting the pyramid", which discusses team formation and tactics. Here, these stories seem to suggest that the game is populated by volatile mad men as opposed to people with serious, analytical nous!
In the light of the abundance of some terrific books on the market about football, it may seem perverse to rate a collection of interviews as five stars. However, this book easily merits this simply because it is so readable. I couldn't put the book down and polished it off in two days. The stories are generally amusing and consist of short anecdotes about confrontations in the dug out between the staff and exchanges with referees, some of whom are equally as mischievous as the managers. I love the story about the possible abandonment of a match that a manager had originally felt should not play only to wipe the floor with the opposition and the referee to start bouncing the ball on the pitch simply because he knew this particular manager would go ballistic because he thought that the game might ultimately be cancelled.
If there is a criticism, this book isn't thick enough and you are left wanting more. Once particular character I would have wished to have read about was the late Tommy Burns and Strachan's chapter is peppered with incidents about him which suggest that there could possibly be another book in those anecdotes. I thought that this book was really entertaining and certainly one that will appeal to all football fans and not just those from Scotland. That said, it was great to read about teams whose names are familiar yet about which I knew relatively little and then to find that there is so much to relate to regarding both Southampton and non-league Winchester City who I also follow. There are probably writers who can write more philosophically about football but Richard Gordon seems to have cultivated a network of characters to recount some terrific stories which means that there are probably few football books that are quite as amusing as this one. This book made me want to go and watch some of these teams in Scotland. I really look forward to Richard Gordon's next book. Recommended.