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Forgive us our press passes: An anthology of modern football writing Edited by Christopher Davies

Release date: 13th November, 2008
Publisher: Know the Score Books

List Price: £19.99
Our Price: £13.99
You Save: £6 (30%)
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We've arrived at a time of year when many of us start thinking about what to give to loved ones as Christmas gifts. Most blokes will leave it another five weeks or so before they start taking the matter really seriously, so may I suggest they retain this piece of the newspaper as an aide memoir?

Many males will begin their search either online or at their nearest bookshop, hoping to hunt down a sports book they recall reading about earlier in the year. The problem they face is this: there's an awful lot of dross on the sports shelves, much of it padded out with quality photographs which a number of authors have difficulty matching when it comes to the quality of their prose.

So why not buy or read an anthology of sports writing by the best in the business? And while you're at it, why not ensure that the money you're spending is going to a particularly good cause - in this instance, the Great Ormond Street Hospital Charity which funds pioneering research into childhood illnesses?

Such a simple idea is the brainchild of the Football Writers Association (FWA) and Know the Score Books, one which makes for a thoroughly entertaining read that can be dipped into time and again, especially as there are almost 70 contributions from writers of the calibre of Henry Winter and Martin Samuel.

BBC Sports Editor Mihir Bose elects to write about FIFA president Sepp Blatter, a man whose status "at times seems the equal of elected world politicians." Master of the illuminating anecdote, Bose reveals that Blatter invariably addresses his correspondence regarding the next World Cup directly to the South African president as though he were the head of a "sporting Vatican" and is miffed if the reply comes from anyone other than the president.

Elsewhere, in a thought-provoking piece, Steve Curry, a former chairman of the FWA, considers life at Old Trafford post-Sir Alex Ferguson. He must be one of the few men alive to have received an apology from Ferguson following an outburst at an FWA dinner.

David Lacey wonders whether larger, all-seater stadia are as atmospheric as their more compact predecessors and what, he asks, has happened to the characters who used to populate vociferous crowds?

Jeff Powell points out that no country has ever won the World Cup while managed by a man of another nationality and declares that England must have an English manager, while Rob Shepherd takes credit for saving Gazza from being axed prior to Italia '90. ITV's main football commentator, Clive Tyldesley, explains why former Liverpool chef executive Peter Robinson always disliked the idea of introducing private boxes at Anfield for fear of alienating ordinary fans and in a pertinent essay, Sam Wallace examines why football's academies are under-performing.

If there's not enough debating material here to prompt conversation amongst your pals for the rest of the football season, consider yourself a lost cause. The vast majority of buyers will not only feel good at having made a direct contribution to charity but, if they have any sense, will buy this one for themselves and ensure it gets pride of place in the reading room - aka the lavatory.

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