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The Wizard: The Life of Stanley Matthews Hardcover – 2 May 2013

4.5 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Yellow Jersey; 1st ed. edition (2 May 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224091840
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224091848
  • Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 3.7 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 547,516 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Portrays a lost world of heavy balls, burly strikers, fog-bound pitches, £20-a-week wages, and teams who would travel to away matches by train and walk to the ground from the station" (Blake Morrison Guardian)

"Sports Book of the Year. Henderson's fine biography catches the magic that made the man in the No 7 shirt a figure of worldwide renown" (Richard Williams Guardian)

"A marvellous, well-written biography that doesn’t shirk from exploring controversial episodes in Sir Stan’s life" (Press Association)

"Henderson succeeds in digging deeper, revealing a more complex character. Fallouts with managers, private dramas. It’s fascinating stuff!" (Four Four Two)

"Conveys the ethos of football in a bygone age, when money was secondary to sportsmanship and even world-famous players would take the bus to the ground" (David Robson Sunday Telegraph)

Book Description

The first full and objective autobiography of a sporting legend, revealing the professional and private lives of one of the world’s greatest ever footballers

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Top Customer Reviews

By Bantam Dave TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 21 Jun. 2013
Format: Hardcover
I found this new biography of Sir Stanley Matthews hard going. It is a little too dry for my taste, giving plenty of facts and statistics about Sir Stanley's career but tells us relatively little about Stan the man as opposed to Stan the footballer. I'm sure that the reason for this can largely be put down to Matthews being a person who preferred to keep his private life private, but even so, I had expected to learn a bit more about him than this book offered. If anything this book left me with more questions than answers. For example there seems to be an undercurrent that suggests that he wasn't always that popular with his team-mates, was this because of Matthews was not a team player, plain jealousy or something else? Matthews doesn't appear to have been liked by many of his club managers either but the reasons given for this seem a little inadequate, leaving me feeling that there must be more to it than is stated. Then there is Matthews's attitude; one of his main motivations for doing anything seems to have been the payment he would receive in return - is this entirely fair? The book fails to provide me with enough evidence for me to form definitive opinions about Stan's true nature.

Because numerous books have been written about Stanley Matthews previously I get the distinct impression that the sole reason for publishing this book was to reveal recently unearthed information about the former life of Matthew's second wife, the Czech born Mila. Whilst the author, Jon Henderson, seems to place a great deal of importance on this, I personally found the section of the book that deals with this particularly dull, having little interest to the probable reader of the book, the football lover.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A compelling and well researched biography of a man who, unbelievably, last played for England aged 42 and last played a League game aged 50.

There are many interesting insights into yesterday's game, things young football fans just wouldn't believe: playing on Christmas day (one year Leicester played TWICE on Christmas Day!); the Scotsman who played for England; the match that was so fog-shrouded it's said that a member of the crowd replaced one of the goalies for the last part of the match.

The author perhaps doesn't fully discover what made Matthews tick - but maybe that was an impossible task given his subject's diffidence and shyness - and he has a slightly distracting style of mentioning things 'before' they happen (eg Matthews's knighthood is mentioned, and then when the author says a little later that Harold Wilson is about to knight him you think, 'Oh, I thought he already had!').

But this is a minor complaint, and I dare say this is the best biography of Stan the Man on the market.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Much better than the ghost written autobiography which I bought several years ago. This book contains some genuinely new material. It is also very readable - which, surely, is one of the most important things about any book.
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Format: Hardcover
A cracking read, which works as both a history of someone who cast a long shadow in football, and a vivid work of social history What marks this book out is the depth and span of the the research behind it; whereas previous works have been "authorised works" and therefore not without a certain bias, the author has taken pains to look at "The Wizard" in a more balanced way. While Sir Stanley undoubtedly has a deserved reputation, what Henderson's book gives us is insight into Matthews the man, rather than the legend.

The net result of all this is eminently readable, doing justice to Stanley Matthews' achievements while also exploring parts of his background of which even the most ardent fan is likely to be otherwise unaware.For example who hitherto really knew about his narrow squeak with the law while serving in the RAF in WW2, or the role of the Czech secret police in his relationship with Mila ?
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Format: Hardcover
Football biographies tend to be rushed-off and superficial (usually by poor ghost writers) so it's a welcome change to find a grown-up biography that's been meticulously researched and beautifully written. It contains a great deal of fascinating new material that casts fresh light on the King of Dribble, the man and the player, arguably the greatest player ever to put on an England shirt. Amazing that he played for England at the age of 42 and played his last league game at the age of 50! I found this book to be intelligent and thought-provoking, the best football "read" since that classic, Football against the Enemy by another great sports writer, Simon Kuper.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I enjoy taking an interest in most sports and, although football isn't my most favourite, I love reading about people and Stanley Matthews is one of the few footballers whose name I know! I have found the book extremely interesting and well written in a very readable style, as you might expect from someone who has spent his life working as a sports journalist. Can thoroughly recommend.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a most interesting read about my boyhood idol. Yes I'm that old. As was stated in the book it would make a very good
Biopic like Brian Clough's "United".
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