This week in the Bandy and Shinty Biweekly Book Club, we spoke to Mark Godfrey who runs the excellent and award winning website The Football Pink. He chose Dominic Bliss’ Erbstein: The Triumph and Tragedy of Football's Forgotten Pioneer as his favourite book: an excellent choice. He’s also looking forward to one day reading Pete Davies’ All Played Out. Before we get to Mark, allow us to say a few words about these books.
“You haven’t watched Game of Thrones? Really? It’s really great.”
“What do you mean you say you didn’t make it to the end of Breaking Bad? Oh, you really should.”
“Wait…did you say you haven’t ever seen a single episode of The Sopranos or The Wire? What’s wrong with you?”
Erm, nothing actually. Nothing is ‘wrong’ with me. I just haven’t quite got around to it for some reason. Besides, there is so much telly produced these days and so many bewildering ways to watch the aforementioned telly. If it’s not on one of the four main channels that I can still name without prefixing it with ‘that’ and suffixing it with ‘thing’ then chances are I won’t get around to it. And as for any of the myriad Channel Five spin-offs…I’m simply very confused.
Those shows you mentioned – they’re no doubt very good but maybe the moment has passed. I’ve never really fully grasped what a zeitgeist is and I have no intention of going anywhere near a water cooler, nevermind having an actual discussion with work colleagues about telly near a water cooler. In fact, the thought of socially interacting with a work colleague…
Moreover, I don’t live in America and don’t know what a water cooler is.
All Played Out by Pete Davies and Erbstein: The Triumph and Tragedy of Football's Forgotten Pioneer by Dominic Bliss are the football books of the glossy TV series/DVD box sets. (Does anybody buy box sets any more? Didn’t think so). When - not if, but when – you finally get around to reading All Played Out, you will be astonished at the access the author enjoyed to England’s team and management staff throughout Italia 90. It is a time capsule that will transport you back to the days when David Platt was exciting and Germany sported beautiful green away shirts.
It won’t change your life and nor will you have conversations in the morning with colleagues by the water cooler (does anybody gather by water coolers anymore? Did anyone ever actually do this?) about Mark Wright’s late glancing header against Egypt. But it’s a cracking read.
(The Sopranos really is excellent by the way.)
Anyway, over to you Mark.
What is your favourite football book?
I've got a fairly limited collection to look back on, to be honest, but I did really enjoy Erbstein: The Triumph and Tragedy of Football's Forgotten Pioneer by Dominic Bliss.
Why? Tell us about it. What’s so good about it?
The title is a good pointer; he is forgotten and he was a pioneer back in Italian football in the 30s and 40s, and gets way less credit than he deserves for his coaching philosophy which spread through Europe just as much as the likes of Jimmy Hogan, Hugo Meisl and Bela Guttman. Not only is it a good football book, but also a great account of the perils of the Second World War for Jews who found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time.
What book are you currently reading/did you last read? What’s it like?
Home and Away: Round Britain in search of non-league football Nirvana by Dave Roberts - a very decent read about the often bleak existence of a non-league football fan and the rediscovery of a lost love (Bromley FC) and youth.
What book are you looking forward to reading next?
It's probably time I finally got round to reading All Played Out by Pete Davies. I'm ashamed to say I've repeatedly forgotten to try it, even though Italia 90 was - for me - the greatest tournament and possibly the best time of my life.
Mark Godfrey runs the excellent and award winning website The Football Pink. You can read more about Erbstein: The Triumph and Tragedy of Football's Forgotten Pioneer here. You can buy it here.