With Father’s Day only 2 weeks away, here are a few ideas for football fans of a Stoke City persuasion:
PREMIER! Stoke City’s 10 Years in the Premier League by David Lee
There’s a surprise!
Yes, PREMIER! celebrates Stoke City’s 10 year adventure (& sometimes misadventure) in football’s Top Flight between 2008 and 2018. This is the story of those 10 years, a game-by-game analysis of an extraordinary time told in typically irreverent style (with typically goofy pictures!).
Afterall, the Premier League weren’t sure what they were going to get when Tony Pulis’ side won promotion in May 2008. But what they got was passion, grit, & a big bloke called Rory who could throw the ball a hell of a long way. Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger certainly didn’t like the look of them. They were tough to beat, their Britannia Stadium was a bear-pit, and on a cold Tuesday night the wind would blow so hard that away teams feared they might be blown as far as Vale Park!
Sometimes it wasn’t pretty, despite Wembley and that Europa League cup run. With Mark Hughes they even beat Man Utd, Chelsea & “Citeh”…before the wheels began to come off the wagon.
A merry paperback romp, available from www.impossibledreamers.co.uk etc.
How to be a Footballer by Peter Crouch
Just out in paperback is Crouchy’s brilliant How To Be A Footballer. Loads of great down-to-earth footie stories on clothes, tattoos, team-buses, haircuts, etc.
We learn not to use the toilet after Robert Huth (ugh!); that John Carew’s French tattoo on his neck doesn’t translate as “My life, my rules”, but actually reads “My life, my menstruation”; that “diminutive” Bojan is the king of Nintendo Mario Kart on the team-bus; that if Pete gives away his Stoke shirt to a fan, that the kitman will charge him £50; and that when Arnie bleached his hair at Stoke “he looked exactly like one of the women who works in the kitchen at the training ground, only with smaller biceps”.
By the end of the book, you’ll love Peter so much that you’ll want to adopt him & keep him in your spare-room. Paperback available just about everywhere.
When Footballers Were Skint by Jon Henderson
And this one’s just out in paperback too, and a brilliant book it is.
It tells how footballers lived, loved and just about got by on the measly pre-1970s salaries. It may not sound much like a giggle, but it is packed with yarns about the likes of Stan Matthews, George Eastham etc (which makes it worth the entrance fee alone).
Stoke and I; The Nineties by Neil James
This is Trouserdog’s book about the fall and rise and fall and…er, a bit of a rise, of Stoke in the 1990s. (The clue really is in the name.)
He cleverly weaves his own story of growing up on the Boothen terraces with the unfolding story of The Macari era, The Autoglass era, The Brit era, & The Icelandic Takeov-era.
A major work, and a vital read for all those who trod the steps of Stoke’s 90’s adventures, enhanced by new and revealing interviews with Macari and Coates.
Hardback in all bookshops.
Give Us Tomorrow Now: Alan Durban’s Mission Impossible by David Snowdon
In Give Us Tomorrow Now it is clear that although Alan Durban was on the slow road to greatness with Stoke in 1981, he felt unappreciated not only by the Stoke board, but in particular by Stoke fans, despite promotion & steady improvements in results & league status.
And so it was bewildering to many Stoke supporters when he left City in 1981 to join struggling Sunderland. There (says writer David Snowden) he was appreciated far more despite continuing to struggle to turn the colossus (Sunderland) around. Ironically, just when it looked like he’d finally turned the corner, the club sacked him, and the fans mourned him. (After steady improvement under Durban, the Black Cats were relegated the season after he left).
An interesting contrast of a book, but sadly mainly about Sunderland rather than Stoke.
Cheer up Peter Reid by Peter Reid
Don’t be put off by sad Peter Reid on the cover, as this is a fascinating trawl through the last 50 years of football, which Peter seems to have played such a part in. In fact it’s hard to see what he hasn’t been involved in. He’s even coached at Stoke.
Really enjoyable general football book.
Mental (Bad Behaviour, Ugly Truths, & the Beautiful Game) by Jermaine Pennant
It may look like a thick book, but I haven’t seen text this big since Primary School.
And even then Pennant repeats himself over and over again; whether it’s how boring training was at Stoke (“Why am I even here?”), knowing that he becomes a nightmare if he doesn’t get a game (“Surely it doesn’t matter if you think I’m a nutcase”) or bad-mouthing managers (“It was all about him!”). Really?
As for the Forgetting He Owns A Porsche story, he spends a whole chapter trying to explain it away (“I’m not THAT bloody stupid!”), before allowing his agent to explain that yes, he really IS that bloody stupid. “He was in such a rush – & he’d never admit this – but he got out & left the engine running & it took 2 weeks for the petrol to run out. He denies it. But that’s what happened!”
So, a cheap and cheerful romp of footballing nonsense.