THE FAR POST – A HAT-TRICK OF FOOTBALL BOOKS FROM THE 1990S AND EARLY 2000S

The Guinness Football Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1995), Guinness; FC Football Graphics (1998), Thames and Hudson; The Concise Encyclopedia of World Football (2002), Parragon

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The Guinness Football Encyclopedia

First up, The Guinness Football Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1995), published by Guinness in hardback.

Described in the blurb on the inside cover as “football’s most readable reference book, in its 224 pages The Guinness Football Encyclopedia offers both an informative history of soccer and a useful panorama of the modern game.”

“There is detailed coverage of all the major tournaments at domestic, European and world level, including an extended section on the European Championships as England prepares to host the finals. Also included are profiles of over 70 great players past and present, including the latest additions to football’s hall of fame such as Eric Cantona and Jurgen Klinsmann.”

The written copy is pretty dry and factual, but there are lots of good pictures, albeit in black and white. Highlights include Brian Gayle celebrating Birmingham City winning the Leyland Daf Final in 1991, some full-on chin action from Jimmy Hill (chinny reck-on), and Helmut Schoen hoisting the World Cup trophy aloft with one button on his natty adidas cardigan undone, like he’d just been woken up from his afternoon nap by his care nurse to receive it.

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FC Football Graphics

Next up, FC Football Graphics (1998), published by Thames and Hudson. FC Football Graphics is a glossy, full-colour book written for the original PlayStation generation. There’s not much text, and what there is pretty superficial. The layout and images are often headache-inducing too – akin to playing FIFA 98 for four hours straight and getting a head-rush when you get up too quickly to go to the toilet!

It’s not a bad book, interesting in its own way, with some good pictures and images of football ephemera, but ultimately it’s the computer-generated images that let the book down as they’re so dated. However, if you want to check out what Sky Sports looked like before Gary Neville got his hands on the current computerised bag of tricks at his disposal today, then get or borrow a copy of the book.

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The Concise Encyclopedia of World Football

Finally, The Concise Encyclopedia of World Football, published by Paragon.

“When English fans sang ‘Football’s coming home…’ at Wembley in 1996, they were taking part in a great sporting tradition that has transcended national boundaries and fascinated men and women all over the world. From the intensity of the Kop at Anfield on a rainy Saturday afternoon to the crumbling grandeur of Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana Stadium, fans are united in their love of the game and fervent support for their team.”

“All the great players are included in this book, past and present, from stars of the 1940s and 50s like Sir Stanley Matthews, Ivor Allchurch, and Alfredo di Stefano, to the monumental Brazilians such as Didi, Pele, Careca and Ronaldo…”

“The other side of football – the money, the politics, the scandals and the tragedies – is also tackled, along with articles on the women’s game, football on film and in print, refereeing, tactical developments and the improvement of equipment.”

It’s this “other side of football” that sets the book apart from the slew of books about players and managers. The politics, tragedies and scandals are covered particularly well – including notable betting scandals, fixes and bungs – as prevalent in the early part of the 20th century as they were at the latter end of it and in the 2000s.

More good and quirky photos in this book too, including:

the Toon Army indulging in some serious Shearer worship:

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a “chemically-refreshed”-looking Chelsea fan:

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and

Porto playing in a snow storm:

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As the blurb also states, “The Concise Encyclopedia of World Football, like Gordon Banks, covers every possible angle.”

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