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The Nowhere Men By Michael Calvin

Release date: 28th August, 2013
Publisher: Century

List Price: £14.49
Our Price: £10.34
You Save: £4.15 (28%)
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Coming up with a fresh angle on our national game to justify writing a commercially viable book running to 400 pages has become increasingly difficult over the past two decades.

The football book market is estimated to comprise 15,000 titles; to call it saturated is an understatement.

Yet hidden in amongst the indifferent, ghosted biographies are examples of the quirky (Red Card Roy), the specialised (Does Your Rabbi Know You’re Here?) as well as the touching (The Wizard) and the well-written (Inside the Divide), a category into which Michael Calvin’s Nowhere Men falls. Furthermore, Mr Calvin has happened upon virgin footballing territory – the rather unglamorous world of the football scout.

The author must have prayed, as he conducted his impressively comprehensive research, that no-one nicked his idea. Readers too should be thankful that Mr Calvin wasn’t gazumped, for he builds a cast of characters that could easily transfer onto the big screen. Football scouts do not associate with the game for the money. Most work on an expenses-only basis and, invariably, when the manager who recruited them is sacked, their roles too come under close scrutiny; long-term scouting contracts are virtually non-existent.

Indeed, because the author ensures we ultimately have great empathy with the men who travel the length of the country to watch a player in reserve match on a wet Tuesday night in November, it begs the question: why do they do it at all? It certainly isn’t for the perks or financial rewards. More likely is a prolonged wait to be reimbursed for travel expenses and cold pies consumed at even colder football grounds.

Calvin casts his net wide – from small, barely solvent clubs, to some of Europe’s biggest and the coterie of men, many of whom are ex-footballers, who are prepared to put an extraordinary amount of effort into what has been described as the game’s most insecure job. He successfully illustrates the bond that exists amongst these men, an espirit de corps which is a fertile ground for gallows humour.

Nowhere Men is a captivating, marvellously well-written book. We should be thankful no-one stole Michael Calvin’s idea to highlight this forgotten area of the beautiful game; let’s hope he can uncover another.


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