With book release silly season in full flow – here are five top reads for football fans

You can’t switch on a TV channel, scroll down a Twitter feed or open a newspaper at the moment without seeing someone plugging a book.

The Graham Norton Show had three people on Friday all peddling their new publications!

It is that time of the year though where they all start coming out of the woodwork, clambering to achieve top sales leading into the Christmas period.

You have all the big names year in year out. This year Arsene Wenger could well be top of the sport bestsellers with his new book. Poor bloke probably needs a rest after all the promotion he has been doing lately.

The big name books will sell, just because purely and simply they are big names.

But as an avid sports book reader will know, it is the players and figures down the ladder, the ones people have never heard of, who tend to have the most interesting stories to tell.

The ones who have been through adversities, the ones who have been cast aside, are the ones who tend to pen the books that keep you turning page after page.

In amongst all the big name best sellers, here are my five personal favourite football books than come from names rarely heard in the modern era.

From corruption to a forgotten star, to drug addiction and jail sentences, they have something that a lot of the big names books simply don’t have in the modern era.

FOREVER YOUNG – The story of Adrian Doherty – Football’s Lost Genius

When you talk youngsters at Manchester United in the 1990s, you think of the names Beckham, Giggs, Scholes, Nevilles.

You don’t think of Adrian Doherty, but as you’ll find out in this superb book by journalist Oliver Kay, the Irishman was just as good, if not better than the famous Class of 92.

Even Giggs himself says in the book he is inclined to agree.

Not your typical footballer, Doherty was eccentric. While team mates watched the first team on Saturdays, he sat busking in Manchester city centre.

According to Sir Alex Ferguson, Doherty was destined for stardom, but as the book explains, that didn’t exactly go to plan.

Kay tells an unusual tale of what happened to the forgotten genius, who died at the age of just 27 while on his way to work in Holland.

The book puts right misconceptions about what fellow footballers thought happened to Doherty when he fell out of the game.

A riveting page turner and a must read not just for Manchester United fans – but football fans in general.

Doherty – football’s lost genius

BLACK AND BLUE – Paul Canoville

The 2008 autobiography tells the story of extreme racism, a career ending injury, a fall into the depths of drug abuse, battles with cancer and family tragedies.

In 1982 Paul Canoville became Chelsea’s first black first team player.

Even as he warmed up before the proudest moment of his career he was subjected to vile abuse from his owner supporters.

But his determination won over the fans and he became a hit with those on the terraces of the bridge.

The bright young star’s career ended at 24 and his life spiraled to the point where he found himself homeless.

But he fought back and the story tells a tale of determination and fight, which led Canoville help others to overcome adversity.

Canoville playing for Chelsea

FOOTBALL LEAKS – Uncovering the dirty deals behind the beautiful game

This 2019 release was described by FourFourTwo as ‘reading like a cold war thriller’.

It certainly isn’t far off.

The book tells the story of one anonymous football fan who manages to obtain 18.6 million confidential documents on the deepest darkest secrets of the beautiful game.

The whistleblower, known as John, started leaking his treasure trove of dirty files to German newspaper Der Spiegel.

The pages of this book reveal the eye watering sums behind the world’s top transfers, and how loopholes and tax structures are used to ensure maximum earnings for players and agents.

A topical read at a time when football’s greedy top players are back in the news.


Mark Ward was a youngster from Merseyside who only ever wanted to do one thing. Play football.

As the book reveals, Ward became an overnight sensation at Oldham Athletic and went on to be a star at West Ham, Man City and his beloved Everton.

But following his football days, his life unraveled resulting in failed business ventures, his marriage collapsing and years behind bars.

The book reveals the full extent of how the unemployed and desperate ex professional put his name to a house used for a drugs stash – which led him to move from right wing to B wing.

A ten year old release but another fascinating story from a wing wizard.

Mark Ward

FALLEN IDOL – Peter Marinello

Drinking, gangsters, bankruptcy and an arrest for attempted murder. Not something you’d expect from the book of a talented former Arsenal winger.

But this story has all that, and then some.

Peter Marinello was a sensation after his six figure transfer from Hibs to Arsenal saw him once hailed as the new George Best.

He appeared on Top of the Pops, secured a modelling contract but drinking and reckless behaviour impacted his life.

He played only 51 times for the Gunners before moving to Portsmouth. It was post football where his life fell apart, and the book reveals how at one point he had to buy heroin for his addicted sun.

But like many books of this ilk, he turned his life around. An extraordinary story.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: