Click here to read my tribute to Birmingham City legend, Trevor Francis.
With 94 reviews at an average of 4.6 on Amazon, Hugging Strangers is a book for all true football fans. It helps if you’re one of the breed who follows your team through thin and thinner, but if you love the game, you’ll get what it’s about instantaneously. It speaks to all who love football but are lumbered – by way of family, geography or plain bad luck – with a team whose glory days are few and far between.
Hugging Strangers starts in 1963, a season ending with Birmingham City staying in the first division by winning on the last day of the campaign. In the 55 years that follow, the Blues kept either survival or promotion for the final fixture on a further 12 occasions. Stir in nine relegations, eight promotions, along with play-off failures and embarrassing exits from cup competitions, leavened by by thousands of moments of hilarity and stupidity, a few occasional highs and even, yes, one cup win, and you’ll enjoy the full picture of what it means to have hitched your life’s wagon to serial underachievers.
I’m not a Birmingham fan but I found myself laughing and shouting “that’s me”
Brutish Necessity is a tale from the past that casts a light on our lives today.
Oswald Augustus Grey was a Jamaican immigrant. He was 20 years old when he was executed in November 1962 and 19 when the crime for which he was convicted took place. To talk to people who lived in the city of Birmingham at the time, or to scour the nostalgia forums that proliferate online, is to discover an episode that has almost entirely disappeared in terms of public remembrance. This book unearths something of a place and a society that allowed a young life to become expendable and forgotten. The Birmingham in which this happened is both alien yet familiar.
With a glowing foreword from film maker Steven Knight (Peaky Blinders) and a range of endorsements including David Lammy MP, Brutish Necessity unearths some forgotten history and explains why some things remain stubbornly the same when it comes to race and discrimination in British society.
Publishers John Hunt are currently offering 50% off the e-book version of Brutish Necessity. Click here and enter the code FESTIVE50
Beautifully written …..funny and poignant.
It’s an embarrassing truth for many of us that it was only when professional football was eventually forced to close down that we recognised Covid 19 as a genuine threat to our way of life. And maybe just as shameful was the fact that once lockdown became normalised, it didn’t take long for chatter to start about when the game might begin again.
This book begins by charting what happened in the weeks leading up to that point, placing football in the context of furloughs, some new-found community awareness and dithering politicians. At the heart of the book are nine case-studies of teams. From Burnley in the Premier League, down through the divisions to grassroots football, Project Restart looks at the hopes and fears of supporters and the actions of those charged with keeping their beloved clubs afloat. It looks at how we almost adjusted to the eerie echo of games on TV with no crowds and finishes by trying to address the biggest question in town: what would football look like in a post-Covid future?
gripped by stories of how entwined lower league football is with its various communities
You had one bath a week whether you needed it or not. You knew with iron certainty what was for tea on any given day of the week. There was every possibility that grown-ups, known to you or not, might clout you. But being a child of the 1950s endowed you with privileges that could only have been dreamt of by previous generations. Free secondary education and health services and, for a while, a booming economy and full employment – not that you knew much about that as a kid. Did the baby-boomers, the beneficiaries of all of this, build a better world on the back of their advantages? Did they turn out to be progressive or just self-satisfied and selfish?
“A lovely little memoir where righteous indignation is tempered by much humour”.
In Teachers Undefeated Jon Berry found that teachers had not fallen for a reduced and meagre view of what children should be offered by schools. Now he writes about schools that have made a collective decision to abide by the principles of teaching and learning, confident that results will follow. Teachers, as well as parents and school governors can take heart from this book. It shows that we can still teach with creativity, energy and innovation and that resistance to a regime of teaching to the test is both possible and rewarding.
A book full of hope…it shows how schools can lessen the soul-destroying effects of testmania
Zurich, 2 December 2010. Sepp Blatter pulls the name of Qatar from the envelope. The accusations fly and the recriminations start. And once it’s all sunk in, we start looking at maps and temperature charts and try to scrape together any fragments of knowledge about kingdoms in the Arabian desert.
The Armchair Guide looks underneath some of the myths and preconceptions and tries to provide the average fan – if there’s any such thing – with some sound information about what a World Cup in the desert might look like. Was the bidding process corrupt? How many people actually did die building stadiums? How hot will it really be? Can I go there with my mates and have a drink anywhere? What will the legacy be – both in the region and for the global game?
A light-hearted, sideways glance, Armchair Guide uses stories from within and beyond the game to cover everything about the 2022 Winter World Cup. It can’t boast that it will pick a winner, but it’ll go some way to shedding light on football’s place in a changing world.
humorous and satirical as well as interesting and informative