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A selection of books to greet the arrival of the new Premiership season: (2006-2007)
Release date: 16th August, 2006
Our Price: £See Review
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Sky Sports Football Yearbook: 4sportsbooks.co.uk price: £11.99 (saving 40%)
Harry Harris World Cup Diary: 4sportsbooks.co.uk price: £9.89 (saving 34%)
The PFA Footballers' Who's Who: 4sportsbooks.co.uk price: £11.87 (saving 34%)
Farewell to Highbury: 4sportsbooks.co.uk price: £14.99
Although the World Cup ended less than six weeks ago, the rumbling, often predictable, energy-infused, over-hyped juggernaut that is England's Premiership returns this weekend, accompanied by a raft of football-related books.
The daddy of them all, of course, is the Sky Sports Football Yearbook, (Headline) formerly known to statistical aficionados as 'Rothmans', edited by Jack Rollin and his daughter Glenda. It will take some time before Rothmans' association with this footballing encyclopaedia disappears, but while the Rollins continue to serve up their annual factfest, Sky will eventually get the credit it deserves for sponsoring this book.
As ever, its breadth of coverage is unmatched and naturally, all of the World Cup's results, together with those from almost every other league in the country are included. Little wonder it remains the biggest selling football yearbook.
Harry Harris's World Cup Diary (Know the Score Books) is another magnificent achievement: nearly 300 pages of beautifully presented World Cup action published within a month of the final being played. Harris provides an authoritative, often amusing, day-by-day account of the tournament which he stretches by 24 hours to include Italy's victorious return to Rome. This is an ideal souvenir of the World Cup which also includes some outstanding photography.
Statistician, researcher and author Barry Hugman has produced another comprehensive work for the fact-hungry footballing public. The PFA Footballers' Who's Who (Mainstream) provides exactly what it says on the cover - a detailed review of the achievements of every player who performed at professional level, however brief, during the course of last season.
The next time someone you've never heard of gets mentioned, a quick delve into this excellent tome will provide answers to where he was born, his weight, career history, honours and a short 'pen-pic'. Should probably sit close to Sky's Yearbook when watching a match.
Finally, among the glut of indifferent footballing books published ahead of the new Premier League season, one other worth reading, even if you're not, like me, an Arsenal fan, is Norman Fox's Farewell to Highbury (Bluecoat Press).
Club histories tend to fall into two categories. First, there are those that drown in a mass of statistics, offering material widely available on any number of internet sites and precious little in the way of insight. Second, there are the hagiographies, often written by supporters with one eye on ensuring no offence to both the reader and the club.
Although an admirer of Arsenal Football Club, Norman Fox, a former newspaper sports editor, has cast a journalistic eye over the history of the Gunners and produced a thrilling read with 'Farewell to Highbury'. From their roots at Woolwich munitions factory through to the final of the European Champions League last May, Fox tells the riveting story of the birth and growth, triumphs and disasters, great matches, illustrious players and celebrated managers that have enabled Arsenal to become one of the major forces in world football.
A fund of stories, both good and bad, have surrounded the club's history and rarely have these been analysed with such a deftness of touch. Nowhere is this more evident than in his dissection of the fierce rivalry with Spurs. Arsenal's move from famous old Highbury to the 21st Century surroundings at the Emirates Stadium a short walk down the road has spawned several books; none are likely to be as satisfying a read as this.
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