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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 19 November 2014
Jumpers for Goalposts – Some Interesting Points

I always smile when I read books that complain that football has changed for the worse that it is not like the old days. In the old days we had ramshakle stadia, crap food, violence on and off the pitch, deaths and people turning away from football. You could rock up to a ground pay at the gate and gain entry some of those even turned up at Old Trafford but then they always had the glory hunting tourist fans well worth punching on derby day. I understand a few headbutted a few City fans fists at that time while the Mancunian reds watched and applauded. Believe me there was nothing fantastic about supporting your team at time back then at times, things have moved on times have changed. Whether for the better or the worst Jumpers for Goalposts examines the rise of ‘modern’ football, or as most Manchester United fans would say the beginning of history in 1992.

Jumpers for Goalposts written by sports journalists Georgina Turner and Rob Smyth (to me a tourist from Kent who supports the RAGs of Old Trafford), before I start Old Trafford was only ever made for cricket. They examine whether football has sold its soul which with the influx of money today is an important question for all fans even those of debt ridden clubs. There are some mistakes in here but that is expected as they are journalists after all, “We all live in a Robbie Fowler house” started at Manchester City when he signed for them and was continued by Liverpool, I know pedant alert.

The chapters are well constructed that cover the money that has come in to football and where it is being spent now and there are some very interesting comparrisons when the authors talk about football players, and therefore False Idols is the most apt chapter title for them. When they cover the amount players are paid on some you can understand the outrage for the mediocre and average players receiving so much but the world class players is a different matter.

When talking of the premier league from its inception in 1992 until 2011 they have clearly argued the point of Greed is Good has been great for some football clubs but an absolute disaster for others. Especially when you think of the ‘arms’ race that goes on first to get to the promised land of the premier league and then more importantly to stay there. Which I doubt there is anyone that would argue against the argument as they set it out especially when you look at our youth teams and more importantly the full England team.

This book guides us through everything that we may need to know about modern football and how it operates especially in relation to money. It also shows up, using plenty of examples, the stupidity of many of the footballers and their arrogance along with their endless riches. It is hard to escape in this book how money now drips through the game getting everywhere like water.

It would have been easy for this book to turn in to a polemic but it is a balanced argument as you can get but does provide the evidence when required. The good thing about the journalists that wrote this book is they are able to give an honest account of football and how much money now floats around in the game without much recall to the fans or at times common sense.

An interesting book always worth a read even if it is just for some of the examples they use through out the book.
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on 23 July 2012
I'm afraid I don't share the general enthusiasm of other reviews for this book! The basic premise of the book is that football has been spoilt by money and this has led to greed on the part of key people involved. Each chapter in the book reworks this hardly new theme again and again. The two authors (it is not made clear who wrote each part of the book, or even who the authors are) concentrate very heavily on the Premier and Champions League. They seem to make the assumption that this is the only football that really matters, almost ignoring lower and non league football, where many of the values they seem to hold dear can still be found...think for example of clubs owned and run by fans. As far as I could find, the authors did not talk to any people actually involved in football..the entire work seemed to be a rehash of secondary sources. A rather ridiculous detailed footnoting of these sources at the end of the book seems to have been included to give the book a sort of academic and scientific base. The authors view of football prior to the formation of the Premier League as being a kind of generally agreed golden age is very dubious...the examples chosen are often very selective in what they recall...much of the game was as unappealing then as the authors claim the modern game is.
The style of writing,to me,is irritatingly repetitive, especially the use, often two or three times a page, of similes and conflation of ideas that are often inappropriate, looking for a cheap laugh or just plain wrong. Just as the content reworks one basic idea again and again, so does the way the chapters are written.
To me then, I felt the book was nothing new, revisiting a basic idea that many others have written better about. Why is there such a lack of primary research by the authors? Sorry, not a memorable football book for me...not a patch on 'Family' which really gets into the heart of a club, and the game today.

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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 10 February 2012
This book succinctly shows why I shifted my allegiance from the "mighty" Tottenham Hotspurs (note - it's plural when it's Spurs so why not with the full name?) to the lesser lights of Leyton Orient (who were always my "second" team as I live near Brisbane Rd). I know that any reader of this will not be interested in my personal preferences or the fact that I have committed the ultimate football sin of switching allegiance but as one of the strands in this book points out, no one else in football, with rare exceptions, shows the same allegiance to one club as much as the long suffering fans and if some of us lapse - with good reason I believe in my case then...

If we accept that the best that any team outside the big 4/5/6 can expect is that they might win a cup or get promoted then we have to wonder what any supporter of any other club expects fromn their team. This book will tell you. It will explain why we still turn up to face 90 minutes of tedium occasionaly blessed with the odd moment of euphoria. It will explain why the "big" clubs have got it wrong, why they have ultimately missed the bus with the "real" football supporter to pander to the glory seekers, the foreign "investors" and the Far Eastern replica shirt market.
Maybe you have to be of a certain age (ie over 40) to appreciate why so much of the game has gone down the toilet but if you want justification for your views why it was better in the old days - and it was - then please read this witty, incisive, and sadly all too pertinent book today.

Harry for England! (That dates this review!!)
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on 5 January 2012
The market is saturated with football books, usually of the stocking filler variety - either god-awful laddish affairs, unjustified memoirs or beyond boring pub trivia-type drivel. Bravo for this one, then, which instead provides a very thought provoking and intelligent dissection of the state of modern football. As a fan these days I find myself getting bored reading the media football pages and having read JFG I thank the authors for pointing out why.

Starting with a guilty dream team, JFG quotes Danny Blanchflower, who states that football is not so much about winning but is about glory. And so by attempting to define the soul of football, and what makes it great, the book then sets about illustrating how all this has come undone in recent years, most notably since the inception of the Premier League in 1992.

The reasons themselves are familiar to most football fans: narcissistic players, the winning at all costs mentality, the monopolisation of domestic and European competition by the elite few, the stinking governing bodies, the hypocrisy of fans and the damned media. Where this book differs, and how it ultimately works, is that it is academic in its research, yet the witty journalistic style is very readable, and you don't have to be an "in the know" football nerd to appreciate it. There were plenty of bits that had me nodding in agreement: "where the money is stacked highest an antagonistic sense of entitlement has crystallized and fans strop about like Veruca Salt". Being a fan of the nouveau-riche Leicester City, I can attest to that! A section about fans in the media (commenting on online news stories etc) is also particularly good.

I would recommend buying this book - the fact that it is so contemporary, written in the early part of the 2011/12 season makes it worth doing now but I think the themes will make it relevant for a good many years to come.
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on 16 September 2016
I read this book on my recent holiday (in truth I'm not sure when I acquired it, but it could be some time ago). It was an easy enough read, but the experience was akin to listening to a relatively knowledgeable person rant about the ills of modern football. Given it was published in 2011 it already feels significantly out of date (fair to say the authors would probably amend their dismissal of Gareth Bale's abilities given what he's gone on to achieve). The book is split into sections covering the fairly standard range of subjects that are seen to have damaged football; while many of the points are substantiated with statistics, the conclusions feel preordained. In short, not an especially bad book but not particularly original.
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VINE VOICEon 21 April 2013
On the one hand, I really enjoyed a lot of this book; the argument that football has sold its soul is persuasive, and the evidence of ticket prices, kit changes, wages, transfer fees, TV rights, treatment of supporters etc is compelling. I share the authors' yearning for a simpler, more honest approach to the game that foregrounds entertainment, style and a strong sense of shared identity between players, managers and supporters. The recollections of bygone decades is very entertaining, and resonates strongly with my childhood memories of the FA Cup, Italia '90 and such like. On the other hand, the authors' central theme is somewhat repetitive, and they present very little hope of redemption. The focus is, perhaps unsurprisingly, on the Premier League and international football, but surely there are signs of hope and examples that go against the grain in the lower leagues and non-league. Also, the concluding section, which offers some suggestions is rather vague. Football has changed, and if the values the authors appeal to here are to have any future relevance, ways of reconciling them with the current climate need to be found; I kept hoping that the authors would attempt to map this out, but ultimately, they didn't. Their lament is hardly misplaced, but it became a little over-bearing by the end.
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on 7 June 2012
When I started reading this I thought it might turn out to be a sort of "Grumpy Old Men on Football" style book, reminiscing about how things were better "...when I were a lad...".

I was wrong, not completely, but this is not a Clarkson-esque tirade against modern football. It is a very well thought out and reasoned discussion on how the game has been robbed of that magic that turned us all onto the game in the first place. Also quite clearly stating that this focus on money is not a new thing ! I won't spoil any of the book as I found it very entertaining and don't want to spoil it for anyone else.

The only thing missing was a section at the beginning "Dear FIFA..." and a space at the end where we can add our signatures before sending the book out to Mr Blatter and his colleagues !
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on 17 January 2013
I was really looking forward to getting this book but it totally failed to live up to its great title and premise. The book that chronicles the story of how football sold its soul needs to be as passionate as the football supporters who are currently being exploited by Sky, EPL, club-owning oligarchs etc. But sadly the book is dreary, poorly written, lacks human interest and is ruined by endless stats that make your brain glaze over. It's ironic that this book is like a dull passionless football match - as if the authors saw a moneymaking opportunity and rushed to be first off the block - a bit like the modern footballing mercenaries who have helped to ruin the beautiful game? Maybe a proper writer like Nick Hornby needs to habe a go at tackling this subject?
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on 24 January 2012
Yes football is a business now but why has it turned into such a money hungry, morality free, opportunity for product placement?

Football is a business but that's not a get out of jail card (sometimes literally) for the people involved in it.

Never forget *why* you love football - why you love your football club. Is it because you enjoy their particular brand of capitilism or is it something else? Something more...and this is a dirty word these days...romantic. You were chosen by your club(as you don't choose who to support on a whim) because your father took you to games, you liked how they played or there was something about a particular player. This book showed me that it's not stupid or delluded to be romantic about football as thats what it's all based on. If we don't have romance, if we don't have heroes then what do we have?

Anyway, loved this book, read it in 2 sittings. Hoping for more from these authors.
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on 5 January 2012
This is a lovely book, beautifully written and laced with wit, that describes the excesses and compromises of modern football. It is not some dry critique by people who despise football, but a book written by and for those of us who love the game, or, at least, what the game ought to be. It is both funny and deadly serious, unashamedly idealistic, but also grounded in a deep understanding of what the game is properly all about: not bling nor even just winning, but `glory', in the words of the great Danny Blanchflower. The book is packed with facts, stories and brilliant quotations, but always assembled as part of a convincing story or argument on how the game's best values have been systematically abused over the last couple of decades by its massive exploitation for money. Rob Smyth and Georgina Turner have given us a delightful, thoroughly researched, funny-but-serious assessment of the game that is a must-read for anyone interested in it.
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