The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
Email This Page

Football Memories By Brian Glanville, Virgin, £ 16.99

Probably the most prodigious of all writers on soccer is Brian Glanville — also the most conspicuous among the English-language soccer-writers. Glanville’s affair with football began when he was a cub-reporter in Italy in the early Fifties. Since then, the game has taken him far and wide. He is the roving soccer journalist, at home in every posting and assignment.

Glanville, true to his old-school style, writes delightful prose laced with a racy, raconteuring rhythm. Full of warmth and understanding, the author’s wit comes to the fore as he takes the reader through his enviable storehouse of incidents and interesting anecdotes. He has a wide canvas to fall back upon and he uses it to the limits.

His enthusiasm can be infectious. He takes as much interest in club-level players as in the greats like Pele and Garrincha. Greaves and Charlton jostle with Maradona and Ronaldo. Glanville is remarkably free from bias. Even when he attacks English football and its administrators, it never comes through as prejudice. He calls English football fans a “miserably untalented subspecies” and advocates banning England from playing abroad because of the wretched “Barmy army”.

Glanville has no faith in inefficient officialdom. He does not mince his words while castigating the Fifa chief, Joao Havelange. This is indeed a welcome departure from the norm these days, where influential sports journalists bend over backwards to praise corrupt officials in order to gain favours. Granville is very much his own man: thorough, precise, warm and understanding, but hard on corrupt players and officials.

His memoirs were long over due. Football Memories is his personal recollections of the best and the worst of covering soccer for over five decades. From 1958 to 1998, he covered the World Cup with the same venom and wit that mark his dribblings through British and European club football.

As fearless as ever, Glanville is willing to stick his neck out and comment that the quality of soccer in the 1998 World Cup was no match for what the Brazilians had dished out in 1958, 1962 and 1970. Or that the France of Tigana, Platini and Giresse was far superior to the 1998 French victors. It takes a lot of character and courage to speak such truth in print.

Email This Page