Football in many guises, including top-level management, rugby and athletics all feature in our festive picks for the sports fan
A TALE OF TWO SEASONS
BY STEVE WEDDELL (PITCH, £12.99)
Subtitled “The Fall and Rise of Heart of Midlothian”, this is a blow-by-blow account of two turbulent seasons which saw Hearts taken to the brink of extinction before being saved, revived and then restored to the top level of Scottish football. The mess the club was left in by Vladimir Romanov’s ruinous reign culminated in administration and 15-point deduction in season 2013-14 which made relegation all but inevitable.
But amid the gloom, a reconnection takes place between club and fans which saw trust regained and gates rise. Relegation was followed by a regrouping in the lower division and a young Hearts team romp to the Championship title under new head coach Robbie Neilson, director of football Craig Levein and, most importantly of all, owner Ann Budge. GB
CELTIC: KEEPING THE FAITH
BY RICHARD PURDEN (FREIGHT, £8.99)
A sequel to We Are Celtic Supporters, Purden examines the relationship between club and fans through a series of diverse subjects. The broad range of characters makes this book a success, with the author bouncing from Martin O’Neill to the Pogues to Pat Stanton. This is a revised and updated version of a book that was published previously under the title Faithful Through and Through. GB
BY ALEX FERGUSON WITH MICHAEL MORITZ (HODDER & STOUGHTON, £25)
Back to plain old “Alex” for this collaborative effort with fellow knight of the realm Michael Moritz, a business guru and venture capitalist who wrote the first book about Apple.
Leading is a fascinating window into the mind and the methods of our greatest football manager. More concerned with the key skills he used to take him to the top of his profession, there are still enough footballing anecdotes to reel in the less business-minded sports fan. Most intriguing of all is the first publishing of a letter Ferguson wrote to Eric Cantona following the Frenchman’s sudden retirement from football which reads like a paean to a lost love, touching and sincere. GB
TAXI FOR FARRELL
BY DAVID FARRELL (TECKLE BOOKS, £9.99)
A visceral ride through the less glamorous side-streets of Scottish football with former Hibs enforcer Farrell at the wheel. An uncompromising player, Farrell is admirably candid in this unvarnished but thoughtful depiction of the life of a journeyman player turned coach.
The book is the offspring of his impressive blog and is a thousand times more insightful than a slew of ghost-written autobiographies. He dares to shed light on some of the game’s murkier subjects: the back-stabbing, the sneaky deals, the nepotism and why big name players will always pass the coaching courses. Best of all is his depiction of the desperate battle to prolong his playing career as his body slowly falls apart in a chapter memorably titled “The Cortisone Years”. GB
GUINNESS PRO12 CHAMPIONS 2014/15: GLASGOW WARRIORS
(CURTIS SPORT, £15.99)
Glasgow Warriors’ triumph in winning the Guinness Pro12 last season was a landmark moment for professional rugby in Scotland. It was a coming of age for a sport which had struggled to make the transition to professionalism. Notably, it took place not in our traditional rugby heartlands of Edinburgh or the Borders but in football-mad Glasgow where sold-out crowds cheered the impressive Gregor Townsend’s side throughout the season.
This 100-page glossy book is a souvenir of a glorious campaign which culminated in the 31-13 win over Munster in the Pro12 final at the Kingspan Stadium in Belfast in May. GB
THE FIVE-A-SIDE BIBLE
BY CHRIS BRUCE (BACKPAGE BOOK, £14.99)
For anyone who has skinned their knees on the pre-3G five-a-side courts dotted around our towns and cities. The small-sided game is responsible for prolonging the career of countless football fans whose enthusiasm outshines their ability and this book delves into the explosion of the game in the last 30 or so years. It claims that the first custom-built five-a-side facility in the world opened in Paisley in the late 1980s.
The history is great and so too is its depiction of the characters who populate the sport: the Organiser, the Latecomer and, best of all, the Net-dodger, who is always reluctant to take his shot in goals. GB
THE BOLT SUPREMACY: INSIDE JAMAICA’S SPRINT FACTORY
BY RICHARD MOORE (YELLOW JERSEY, £18.99)
Scottish author Richard Moore travels to Jamaica to try to discover the genesis of the Usain Bolt phenomenon and why a Caribbean island with a population of 2.7 million dominates the world of sprinting to such an extent that eight of the ten fastest 100 metres times ever run belong to Jamaicans. Scotsman writer Moore is meticulous and entertaining and finds a country where athletics has supplanted cricket as the sport of choice. He is very good on the physiological aspects of Bolt’s dominance.
Most fascinating of all are his visits to the high school championships, where the atmosphere is less school sports day and more Old Firm match without the poison. GB
LUGGY. THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF PAUL STURROCK
BY PAUL STURROCK (PITCH PUBLISHING, £15.90)
The much-needed follow up to Forward Thinking, which was published way back in 1989. Luggy’s career has taken a few more twists and turns since then. The focus here is on his managerial career down south, which means Sturrock’s numerous playing highs – such as a European Cup semi-final run with Dundee United – are rather skipped over.
Still, some engaging stories, including when Sturrock has his dress sense queried by a Southampton director during a short stint there as manager. Apparently, he wasn’t smart enough.
Already in need of an update after his recent sacking from Yeovil Town, but hopefully there will be a more comprehensive Luggy memoir in time. AP
NO BORDERS: PLAYING RUGBY FOR IRELAND
BY TOM ENGLISH (BIRLINN, £19.99)
A labour of love for Scotland on Sunday’s former chief sportswriter who lets the subjects do the talking in this oral history of rugby of the Emerald Isle. It’s a formula English uses to winning effect, with the great and good of the game regaling the reader with tales from a sport that transcends Ireland’s divisions. GB
A MAN’S GAME
BY ALAN NESS (RINGWOOD, £9.99)
The only novel in this year’s selection, A Man’s Game is a crime story set in the world of Scottish football. It’s gritty stuff, alighting on topics such as violence, addiction and misogyny as it scratches at the seedy underbelly of the beautiful game. It’s Fifer Ness’s first published novel and a follow-up is already in the pipeline. GB