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I am The Secret Footballer

I am The Secret Footballer

Of all the many football books that have been released over the years the magic ingredient from someone inside the game is always insight, from Steve Claridge’s training sessions in Tales From The Boot Camp where Harry Redknapp was fixing the stopwatch to win a bet with his player to Martin Peters retelling in his autobiography how he was once asked play at right-back for Norwich as he was the only player intelligent enough to exploit the space available that day.

Every morsel of the previously unknown can become interesting, including the reasoning of Glenn Hoddle’s choice of Kenny G to ease the nerves of his players ahead of them finding out if they made the cut for the 1998 World Cup in his diary to the revelation that Bob Dylan’s Positively 4th Street was Roy Keane’s favourite song in the Appendix of his own autobiography.

From the little observations within the dressing room environment to the tactics on a matchday, via some cracking anecdotes about nights out and trips abroad, I am The Secret Footballer has insight aplenty. And in addition to the detail, the Secret Footballer has a knack of constantly hitting the nail on the head like Lionel Messi does of finding the net. Continue reading…

Ally Clow’s Films of 2012

The discussion of whether or not the year has been ‘good or ‘bad’ for our various art forms is redundant as always; the deeper you look for art, the more you will be rewarded by the continual reinvention of its content and form. In 2012, those who made the year’s biggest cultural events from the Olympics opening ceremony to Skyfall and The Avengers, wanted to please their audiences without cynicism, without patronising them and in so doing, a truly mass appeal was achieved.

Whilst it was a great year for these blockbuster releases (Skyfall became the most financially successful film ever at the UK box office hitting £100M at time of writing) the documentary form enjoyed a great year too.

Films like The Imposter and This Is Not A Film enjoyed great critical success but it was Searching For Sugar Man that I enjoyed the most. The film tells the story of Sixto Rodriguez, a singer-songwriter who played the bars and basements of Detroit and released two albums of beautiful acid folk-rock then disappearing into oblivion. After the albums were imported to South Africa however, they struck a chord with the anti-Apartheid movement and Rodriguez, and especially his Cold Fact album, became as important to the South Africans as Bob Dylan or the Rolling Stones. The documentary’s strength lay in its gradual uncovering of the protagonist’s story whilst holding back enough for the viewer to be surprised throughout. When and how did he die? Is he even dead at all? Why did the success of his albums in South Africa not translate into financial reward? The documentary answers its questions and reveals a man so full of warmth and humanity that was truly inspiring. Continue reading…

150 Years of FA

As the FA Cup dominates the weekend football in England, Philosophy Football’s Mark Perryman suggest how the Football Association could improve in their 150th year.

On 26 October 1863 the great and the good of nineteenth century English Football gathered at the Freemasons’ Arms in Covent Garden to codify their sport. The rest is history, as will be frequently pointed out over the next twelve months as the organisation founded in this Central London pub, The Football Association, loudly celebrates its 150th anniversary year. Particularly in the high-profile Wembley friendlies against Brazil, the Republic of Ireland and Scotland. Not that there’s anything resembling friendliness in any footballing encounter with the latter.

Following England’s most recent hapless exit from a World Cup in 201 it was pointed out by Matt Scott here that in Germany at the time there were 34,790 Uefa B, A and Pro qualified coaches, in Spain 23,995 and Italy 29,420. England? In comparison a paltry 2769. The figures tell us all that we should need to know about the FA’s inability to act as a governing body, indeed arguably the FA as it celebrates its longevity will also be revealing itself as the sole FA in the world incapable of governing its own sport. Continue reading…

Romanzo Criminale II

Romanzo Criminale by Lilly A

 

An exclusive Romanzo Criminale illustration for The Substantive by Lilly Allen. Details of The Substantive t-shirt with another original design by Lilly Allen is at the bottom of this piece.

Carrying on where Season One left off, the second-half of Romanzo Criminale completes the story of the rise and fall of a criminal gang in Rome with ten more episodes of sublime television. Now in decline, imploding within and struggling to manage external forces, the gang’s tale continues at a fast pace throughout the eighties with style, in both sound and vision.

Continue reading…

VSP’s 2012 Tottenham Hotspur Books

Ahead of Christmas, the independent sports publisher, Vision Sports Publishing have released a couple of books about Tottenham Hotspur that are tailor made for fans with an interest in immersing themselves in the history of the club.

The Glory Glory Nights by Martin Cloake and Adam Powley is a genuine thing of beauty. An update of a book that had press cuttings, brief match summaries and facts from every European tie up until English clubs were expelled from Europe in the mid-eighties, it now comprehensively covers the first fifty years of the club’s European exploits with stunning photographs, insightful interviews, and most importantly, context across six decades. Continue reading…

Left on the Bookshelf

Mark Perryman latest end-of-year book review looks at some of the best from the left from 2012

Christmas time, not much peace in large parts of the world, precious little goodwill for the 99% either. A time for turbo-driven commercialism to drive up retail’s footfall. Bah Humbug? Or if you prefer just put the Historical Materialism on one side for the season and embrace the Hopeful Materialism of looking forward to what might be wrapped up and waiting under the tree for 25 December. Continue reading…

Cycling Books 2012

Accompanied by an exclusive illustration of Victoria Pendleton by the artist Lilly Allen for The Substantive, Mark Perryman declares Cycling ‘Sport of the Year’ and chooses his favourite books from 2012 inspired by life on two wheels. Details of The Substantive t-shirt with a Lilly Allen design at the bottom of this piece.

Never mind the BBC hyped-up hoopla of ‘Sports Personality of the Year’, for most successful British sport of 2012 surely nothing comes close to cycling. An extraordinary first, and second, places for British riders in the Tour de France, a hatful of medals in the Olympic velodrome, more on the road too, and by the autumn a new generation of winners breaking through on the track in the World Cup series too. The achievements, matched by an explosion of popular participation is truly breathtaking. Continue reading…

Cosmic Trigger Happy

What a strange club Chelsea are. Their whole history is defined by the nine-and-a-half years of their current owner, which now consists of nine managers and counting in which they have won a few trophies but few friends.

Roman Abramovich’s ambition has always been to align attractive football with European dominance. But his methods of aggressive headhunting have failed him. He brought in Peter Kenyon from Manchester United as a Chief Executive, poached Tottenham Hotspur’s Director of Football, Frank Arnesen, and later tried to buy Steven Gerrard, Thierry Henry and Rio Ferdinand, with a hostile approach that makes it highly probable he also went for Arsenal’s stadium before setting his sights on Earls Court. Continue reading…

Football Books – Christmas 2012

Mark Perryman, co-founder of Philosophy Football, on a batch of football books for Christmas.

Twenty years on from the 1992 publication of Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch it might be assumed that there wouldn’t be any subjects football-wise remaining to write a half-decent book about. It’s true there’s a lot of dross (personally I avoid almost all ghost-written player biographies like the plague) but there’s also enough fine writers – some new, some vintage – to still provide a literary football sparkle. Continue reading…

Lilyhammer

The Sopranos taught us many, many things, not least how long running television drama can have the multiple plotlines and complexities of a great novel while being as layered as the best of cinema. One of the smaller things it taught us was that Little Stevie can do comedy; a facial expression here, a hand gesture there and a sigh and indentation of the neck when imparting a few words of wisdom to Tone.

Just thinking about it is enough to think about getting the boxed sets out again. We always have the option, but as an alternative Lilyhammer gave us something new. Little Stevie reprises a mafia role, this time as Jimmy the Fixer, an unlikely grass against the new boss in his organisation who has already tried to take him out. His safe house and new life is not in suburbia like Henry Hill but instead in Lilliehammer, Norway, due to the character’s memories of watching the 1984 Winter Olympics. Continue reading…



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