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The Wizard: The Life of Stanley Matthews Paperback – 3 Apr 2014
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"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)
"The book portrays a lost world of heavy balls, burly strikers, fogbound pitches, £20-a-week wages, and teams who'd travel to away matches by train then walk to the ground from the station" (Blake Morrison 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)
The first full and objective autobiography of a sporting legend, revealing the professional and private lives of one of the world’s greatest ever footballersSee all Product description
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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.
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.
For all my misgivings this I would still recommend this book as it will be of interest to those who saw Matthews play and those who didn't but want to learn about a legendary footballer. As a companion piece I would suggest that they also read Matthew's 2001 autobiography, The Way it Was: My Autobiography, a one-sided but enjoyable alternate account of his life.
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