John Lewis have released their Christmas advert, Christmas lights are up and Christmas songs are being played on the radio. And it is only the middle of November. I’ve never been one to get into the festive spirit early, but one thing you might want to start doing at this time is thinking about what you want Mr Claus to bring you on December 25th. Maybe it’s a replica shirt, some new boots or tickets to next year’s Confederations Cup in Russia – actually maybe not that last one.
But there are also some cracking football books out this year, which should definitely be in your stocking. Here are my top ten, with prices via Amazon correct as of the 14th November.
10. The Periodic Table of Football (£9.98)
A brief look through football history in a fun and quirky format. Instead of hydrogen to helium, in this periodic table you’ll find Pele to Sepp Blatter – 108 elements from the football pantheon arranged by their properties and behaviour on and off the pitch. This expert guide written by Nick Holt and accompanying poster spans over 150 years to offer an original perspective of the beautiful game.
9. The Football Ramble (£8.00)
The Football Ramble podcast has established itself as essential listening for any fan of the sport, with over 10 million downloads a year. Now it’s presenters – Marcus Speller, Jim Campbell, Luke Moore and Pete Donaldson – have put pen to paper to write a book by the same title which tackles the real issues from fans you won’t see or hear on Sky Sports, or anywhere else for that matter, in a humerous yet analytical style.
8. Magic, Mud and Maradona: Cup Football’s Finest Tales (£9.09)
After the success of ‘Football Thronkersaurus’, BBC Sport’s Dan Walker is back with a second book which covers one of the greatest aspects of the sport – cup football. Filled with his personal tales from being up the Wembley arch on cup final day to rubbing off the names on Wrexham’s honours board live on Football Focus, the book also features some brilliant photographs and of course the presenter’s hugely popular team line-ups.
7. OptaJoe’s Football Yearbook 2016: That thing you thought? Think the opposite. (£9.09)
If you’ve seen any of @OptaJoe’s tweets like the one below, then like me you’re probably amazed every time. This book is written by the statistician behind the account, Duncan Alexander, and provides an entertaining and insightful guide to football in 2016, analysing data from the world’s greatest teams, players, leagues and tournaments. By number crunching, he suggests why everything we know about football is wrong – just like Leicester City proved in May.
6. No Nonsense, The Autobiography (£6.99)
Joey Barton’s career has seen him jailed for assault, attempt a French accent whilst on loan at Marseille and now be released by Rangers following a training ground bust-up and gambling allegations. Although the latter does not feature in his September-released autobiography, the book does includes some fascinating stories from one of the most controversial footballers of the modern era. Like his character, it is candid, challenging, entertaining and intelligent.
5. My Turn: The Autobiography (£6.99)
The death of Johan Cruyff in March shook the entire football world. The Dutchman was one of the greatest footballers of his generation, and I would not do him justice if I tried to write how big of an influence he was on the game. Put it this way – not many have had a greater impact. My Turn was written as he was dying of lung cancer, and we can be thankful that he managed to finish his collection of inspiring stories before he sadly passed. If you want to read the words of a legend, look no further.
4. The Man in the Middle: The Autobiography of the World Cup Final Referee (£13.60)
It is not often that referees step into the media spotlight of their own accord, but Champions League and World Cup finals official Howard Webb has certainly done so since retiring 2014 by working for BT Sport and now writing his autobiography. It offers a unique perspective on the game, and the former policeman shows shows just why he enjoyed his career so much and provides fascinating insights into how he dealt with the most challenging situations.
3. And The Sun Shines Now: How Hillsborough and the Premier League Changed Britain (£11.99)
This is not ‘just another book about Hillsborough’. Written by journalist Adrian Tempany, a survivor from the tragedy, it examines and deconstructs the dramatic changes that have taken place in English football in the 25 years since the incident. Focusing on the relationship between the football and the state, it is a brutally honest and the most accurate assessment of modern football yet.
2. The Dirty Game: Uncovering the Scandal at FIFA (£8.99)
From Blatter to Blazer, from bribery to embezzlement, BBC Panorama presenter Andrew Jennings reveals the key protagonists, crimes and evidence he handed to the FBI which led to the arrests of FIFA executive and the resignation of Sepp Blatter. Based on years of research and never-before-seen documents, this is the definitive portrait of the downfall of FIFA, and the men who stole football. It is brilliantly written and uncovers the eye-watering level of fraud and criminal activity at the heart of the organisation.
1. Jamie Vardy: From Nowhere, My Story (£6.99)
Jamie Vardy’s incredible rise from non-league football to Premier League champion with 5000/1 Leicester City is a well known story, but his ups and downs along the way are not. From Nowhere, My Story, recalls the striker’s dramatic rise in his own words and is refreshingly honest as he enlightens and entertains the reader. It gives the impression that he still has to pinch himself every time he steps out in front of thousands of people, which is a welcome insight in an era of prima donna footballers.