With that time of year approaching, here are my personal recommendations for stocking fillers, complete with brief reviews.
Dynasty: Fifty Years of Shankly’s Liverpool
I’d obviously be a poor writer if I couldn’t even recommend my own work – and so, with the 50th anniversary of Bill Shankly’s appointment a fortnight away, I’ll start with my own take on the man and his legacy. While Shankly was the founder, only one-eighth is about him, with the rest about the seven men who have succeeded him.
The book was written with reference to a couple of the other books in this list, while three other authors whose books are included below contributed to the Dynasty’s Brains Trust.
Shankly: My Story by Bill Shankly and John Roberts
A couple of years ago I was rummaging through the second-hand books in a Leicestershire Oxfam store and I found an original hardback copy of this book – for £1! It was like Charlie finding the golden chocolate wrapper.
Suffice it to say, it was snapped up, and provided excellent material when researching Dynasty. Great to see that it’s been rereleased. But you may have to pay more than a quid.
From Where I Was Standing, by Chris Rowland (Foreword by yours truly)
I clearly have a vested interest in this book, as I chose to publish it on Chris’ behalf, and upon his request, wrote the Foreword.
However, I only did this because I thought it was an important story and a well-written book, about a subject that has been almost completely overlooked. It doesn’t portray all Liverpool fans as saints, but it certainly gives a clearer insight into what took place, and the shocking reaction aimed at all Reds in the aftermath.
While it’s a personal account of the journey and the build-up to the game, perhaps the most important aspect is the research into the official inquests, etc, that pointed the finger at a lot more people than the vilified Reds.
Soccernomics, by Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski
I think this book is so important on a number of levels, but for me it made the ultimate connection between success and money, with its masses of data that show that the biggest wage bills win the biggest prizes, to a staggering degree.
There are lots of other gems within, about various aspects of the game. A very modern take on football, the kind that puts the majority of football journalists to shame.
Inverting The Pyramid, by Jonathan Wilson
Another hugely important book, this one traces the evolution of tactical systems and formations. Jonathan Wilson writes an excellent column in The Guardian – one of the few newspaper columnists worth reading, perhaps because he actually understands the game.
Read it and learn.
Anfield Of Dreams, by Neil Dunkin
Neil is a member of this site, and someone who had been on my mailing list long before I knew he was writing a book. Now in his 60s, this is his story of a lifetime following the Reds.
I find some fan books to be tedious and purely about machismo, but this is a wonderful weighty tome that covers all the main events of the past 50 years.
Neil also contributed to Dynasty’s Brains Trust.
44 Years With The Same Bird, by Brian Reade
Like the previous entry, this is a book by a long-standing Red, looking at a similar time frame, albeit not going back quite as far as Neil’s work. It covers the issues on the pitch, and off it, but also the personal nature of a father and son bonding over the game.
Brian also contributed to Dynasty’s Brains Trust.
Red Race: A New Bastion
Thought I’d slip this one in here. That’s now two books of mine I’m recommending.
Liverpool – Player By Player, Ivor Ponting
This rather large book was an unexpected (and awkward) arrival through my letterbox; I appear to be on the mailing list for this publisher when it comes to their Liverpool books – following on from my praise for John Dunkin’s book – and unlike their John Wark autobiography (which may be interesting, but didn’t appeal to me), this was very gratefully received. Perhaps they think I can offer some publicity, or a review?
Well, I can. It’s a beautifully presented large-format hardback, and an up-to-date version of a book I first received as a Christmas present 15 years ago, and which I referred to when writing Dynasty with regard to the players of the ‘60s and ‘70s.
The Real Bill Shankly, by Karen Gill
Another large-format, hardback book, this is also a coffee table tome that you can actually read. Put together by Bill’s granddaughter, it is a beautifully arranged collection of stories and paraphernalia, laid out in a smart, scrapbook style. Photos, newspaper clippings and photos of artefacts mix with anecdotes and personal reminiscences.
Rafa Benítez, by Paco Lloret
I read this book a few years back now, and really enjoyed the insight into Rafa’s pre-Liverpool days, covering the full range of early failures to outstanding success with Valencia. It is therefore an invaluable purchase for those who want to know more about the man at the helm. It’s on my ‘must read again’ list.
Secret Diary of a Liverpool Scout, by Simon Hughes
Still sitting on my shelf, as I plough through some other works, this is worth recommending all the same, simply because of the insight into the world of Geoff Twentyman, possibly the game’s best-ever scout.
Hillsborough: The Truth, by Phil Scraton
For obvious reasons, this is a must-read for all Liverpool fans.
Other books some Liverpool fans might like:
Torres, My Story