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harry tompowski

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Life! Death! Prizes!
Life! Death! Prizes!
Price: £5.03

5.0 out of 5 stars Funny, poignant and edgy, 28 Jan. 2013
A story about two brothers and how they survive the death of their mother - funny, poignant, relevant and edgy


Arsenal: The Making of a Modern Superclub
Arsenal: The Making of a Modern Superclub
by Alex Fynn
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.48

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A timely, compelling and entertaining read, 2 Sept. 2011
This book could not be more timely. As Arsenal appear to go into decline, Fynn and Whitcher have produced a detailed analysis of the club which is both stimulating, entertaining and challenging.
Stimulating, because it reads in part like a thriller, especially the sections on the Emirates stadium. It is very rare to have such access to the main players (off the pitch) in "the great Arsenal stadium mystery" and to read how the late Danny Fiszman, Ken Friar and land agent Antony Spencer pulled off the deal is one of the many joys of this book. The image of Spencer, a committed fan, standing on one leg, waving the Kabbalah at a local businessman, will remain with me for some time. It's a long story, and too complicated to go into here - and it would also be a `spoiler'.
The book is packed full of such colourful and amusing anecdotes, but its main contribution is the gravitas it brings to one of the great narratives of contemporary football: the transformation of boring, boring Arsenal into a European superpower. It superbly documents the boardroom battles - most notably David Dein's rise and fall (his ousting being a poignant highlight) - and frankly assesses the crisis. For, although first appearing a few years ago, there have been four new chapters added which shed new light on Arsene Wenger, Dein, Fiszman, the Hill-Woods et al.
But mostly Wenger, the man of the moment. I am not an Arsenal fan, but I think English football is forever in Wenger's debt. Arsene praises Fynn as a "football guru" - and the co-author was, indeed, one of the Premier League's architechts. But Fynn - and Whitcher - have provided a challenging assessment of the great man. Fynn argues that the decline is down to Wenger wielding too much control over matters both on the field and off it.
The key chapter here is the one on youth policy. The Frenchman's youth-orientated strategy was the right one while Arsenal paid off the debt relating to the stadium - but, as the book implies, he has been too slow to react to a change in market conditions brought about by moneybags Manchester City, Abramovich's Chelsea and Man United.
All in all, a fascinating, compelling and substantial account of one of the most important football stories of the moment. Not just for Gooners.


How Leeds Changed the World
How Leeds Changed the World
by Mick McCann
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars We are Leeds We are Leeds We are Leeds, 16 Dec. 2010
Some of us have been banging on about how Leeds changed the world for years. Now, here's the proof. Self-described 'punk publisher' Mick McCann has taken on the highly ambitious task of producing an encyclopaedia of remarkable facts about This Great City Of Ours. And the former New Romantic has pulled it off.
Three cheers for McCann. There are so many gems and nuggets in this tome it would be wrong to single out one or two. But I will anyway. Did you know that Cleudo was developed and published by the Leeds firm Waddingtons? Or that the very first scheduled passenger flight took place in Leeds courtesy of aviation pioneer Robert Blackburn.
No, neither did I.
For those Loiners amongst us who have always claimed that TGCOO altered the path of civilisation, this compendium is a godsend. Not only did it send forth such iconic musicians as The Wedding Present, Scritti Politti and Kaiser Chiefs - and produce the world's first DJ, Jimmy Saville, from its loins - it also played a major part in the development of flamenco dancing.
Not a lot of people know that. And they should, you know.
McCann might appear to be a one-eyed compiler, but he is a fair one, too; it is thought that Leeds scientist Joseph Priestley discovered oxygen, but - as magnanimous Mick admits - he was in fact pipped to the post by some Swedish chappie.
This, above all, is a very funny book. Apart from the funny stories - like the bus travellers who 'revolted' against the recorded information played to passengers at Leeds bus station because it was relayed by a posh bloke - there are a lot of laugh-out-loud digressions by the author.
His quirky writing style - which I first came across in his superb memoir 'Coming Out as a Bowie Fan in Leeds, Yorkshire, England' - enhances this intelligent, thoughtful and extremely readable book.
Even if you hail from outside TGCOO, aka the capital of God's Own County, this is a fantastic read. Needless to say, no self-respecting Loiner should be without one.


Tell Him He's Pele: The Greatest Collection of Humorous Football Quotations Ever!
Tell Him He's Pele: The Greatest Collection of Humorous Football Quotations Ever!
Price: £7.99

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tell Him He's A Very Funny Quotes Compiler, 7 Nov. 2010
As a fan of Phil Shaw's writing, I can assure you that he can find something interesting to write even during a nil-nil draw in some obscure, godforsaken, lower-league hellhole. And, more likely than not, something funny. Shaw has a good eye for telling detail - but an even better ear for the absurd. He puts this funny ear to good use in this brilliant compilation of football quotes. We all know players, managers, chairmen, commentators and pundits say stupid things. I have, occasionally, frequented a live TV studio and blurted out something stupid myself. Nothing as stupid, of course, as TalkSport's Ray Houghton's explanation for being late: "I've been playing in a golf day for a boy seriously injured in a car accident. I had to drive like a lunatic to get here."
There are many more where that came from. If you are a devotee of Private Eye's 'Colemanballs' - which, some issues, is almost entirely devoted to footballers' mixed metaphors and confused cliches - you will be familiar with this genre. But Shaw is a fan of all football humour, whether deliberate or accidental. He is keen to display the players' wit as much as their Malapropite tendencies. On being asked what he would be if he weren't a footballer, for example, Peter Crouch once answered: "A virgin." Crouchy's great rival as a (Groucho) Marxist is Gordon Strachan. "A quick word, Gordon?" "Velocity." Poor old Strach's dry sarcasm got him in trouble at his last two clubs - Celtic and Middlesbrough. Up in Teeside, they weren't laughing when he told a journalist he would "take drugs, and drink and smoke" to deal with the pressure of management. Two weeks later, he was a goner.
As a frequenter of press conferences, I take my hat off to the wee man. And to the big man, Mr Shaw, who has been collecting words of wisdom associated with the beautiful game for the past 30 years. This latest collection has more LOLs - as the kids say - per page than any other tome. It is a welcome and refreshing counterpoint to the self-important halfwits who deal in spin - and a great Chrissie present for anyone in need of a good guffaw in these recessionary times. It's definitely the funniest football book of the year.
I've never been so certain about anything in my life. Which is what Phil Neville once said - before adding: "I want to be a coach. Or a manager. I'm not sure which."

Harry Tompowski


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