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The Football Ramble By Marcus Speller & others

Release date: 01st November, 2016
Publisher: Century

List Price: £14.99
Our Price: £8.00
You Save: £6.99 (46%)
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One national newspaper recently ran a feature asking readers the impossible question: who are the top 100 British sportsmen and women of all time?

The question is designed to provoke debate (personally, I cannot understand how George Best made the footballing top ten), but with the exception of people such as WG Grace (cricket), Jimmy Wilde (boxing) and Harry Vardon (golf), the overwhelming majority of the ‘100 best’ have performed in modern times.

This bias is understandable: we’re almost certain to recall a sporting performance we’ve seen live, listened to, read about, or watched on TV and consider it more significant than one that took place before we were born.

To a degree, and despite its irreverent chapter on football’s history, The Football Ramble, a spin-off from the podcast of the same name, suffers from a similar ‘time bias’, favouring a discussion regarding more recent events, players and managers. Granted, you only need to look at the photographs of the four authors to understand why, but with a little more digging, we could have been spared the thankfully short section on Pep v José and perhaps compared Sir Matt Busby to Bob Paisley; Bill Nicholson to Brian Clough.

Your correspondent was, therefore, about to suggest that TFR would make the perfect lavatory book until I reached the final chapter, headed Grassroots Football. It is here that the authors finally sound original, for there’s the making of a stand-alone book in these closing 20-odd pages. The discussion here is much more relevant to those of us who have played as amateurs, reaching our natural plateau far too soon before slipping slowly down the leagues to rock bottom – Sunday League football.

Many readers will have played on bumpy pitches with wonky goalposts and muddy goalmouths and have first-hand experience of happening upon the footballers described here: ‘The Big Unit’, ‘The Nippy Winger’, or ‘The Prima Donna who refuses to take the kit home to wash it and when he does, it “comes back all damp and the colours have run.”

There’s much to enjoy in TFR, but it would have ben so much better if the authors focused less on features such as Pep v José and onto the genuinely humorous content found towards the book’s conclusion.


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