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Football Mavericks, Romantics and Philosophers

Football and sports writing may be an acquired taste but it is worth cultivating. At this time of year there are many novelty, humorous and quiz based sport books but there are also many insightful stories and essays on sport.

I personally do not tend to turn first to celebrity biographies, though many are very well written. I find great appeal in stories told about lesser known clubs and sporting figures and enjoy writers who pull together themes which are at the edges of sport and how it interacts with our society, our world and our philosophy of life (see

The effects of Covid on football as a spectacle have become very apparent over this strangest of years. We always knew that crowds were vital, important, the 12th man, but the virus showed us just how much the theatre of football is diminished without the crowd there to react, ignite and sustain the efforts of the team. It has also brought about some of the strangest set of results known in modern times – I like to think that Liverpool could not have lost 7-2 to Villa if a crowd had been there!

It was a big year for Liverpool (, a first title in 30 years, and although there was joy when Chelsea sealed the deal, it felt more of a blessed relief to win than an outpouring of joy. Waiting to see if the season would carry on ratcheted up the tension and made the 30 year wait seem like an eternity!

Here are three selections of great sporting books:-

  1. Football Mavericks,

Featured below

2. YNWA Liverpool

The euphoria, the blessed relief! 2020 was nearly all bad news, but for LFC it was a year to remember – a title after 30 years and a lockdown break. Relive the season which was so long in the making and rejoice in this selection – perfect for Liverpool FC fans!

3. Sporting Classics

Books about sport which have stood and will stand the test of time. These books are always about more than sport and tell us about psychology, our need to win and share in sporting triumph and transport us to specific moments in time. All of these show us the best and worst in human sporting endeavour and how sport endures and immortalises. You’ll also learn about octopus wrestling!

Football Mavericks, Romantics and Philosophers

Love affairs with football come in many guises – Jack Charlton was a one-club man, Wenger stayed with Arsenal to the bitter end and nearly every man, woman and child in the country has a crush on Klopp. Who are Ya? explores the pain and joy of supporting a football team and What we Think About When We Think About Football has been out for a while but is an amazing discussion of the philosophy and poetics of football and how we seem to enter another dimension of time and space when we watch it. The new biography of Bielsa, explores the method and madness of Leeds’ maverick manager. Take your pick and feel the love!

Klopp: My Liverpool Romance

Anthony (Film Critic/Book reviewer) Quinn

Everyone crushes hard on Klopp and Quinn explains why this is justified. The results, the belief, the teeth, the hugs and just the small matter of a first title in 30 years!

What We Think About When We Think About Football

Simon Critchley

Discover the great footballing philosophers, Heidegger, Zidane, Sartre, Clough and Klopp!

The Farther Corner: A Sentimental Return to North-East Football

Harry Pearson

For football fans who want to be entertained, educated and feel the soul of the game needs to be cherished. A funny, poignant and melancholy masterpiece.

Who Are Ya?: 92 Football Clubs – and Why You Shouldn’t Support Them

Kevin Day

Who are Ya? Football trivia perfection, that’s who. Look no further for the Stocking Filler for Football Fans of all ages and tribes!

My Life in Red and White: My Autobiography

Arsene Wenger

Arsène explains. Not everything mind, but exactly as you’d expect from Le Professeur. Insightful and a class act.

Extra Time: 50 Further Delights of Modern Football

Daniel Gray

Wonderfully thoughtful collection of short essays to dip into which reminds us why we love the beautiful game.

The Quality of Madness: A Life of Marcelo Bielsa

Tim Rich

Everyone loves Klopp. Everyone respects Wenger. Everyone admires Ferguson. Everyone covets Guardiola. Bielsa however is perplexing and intriguing and you feel if you read this you may well discover arcane secret knowledge of how to manage a football team. El Loco has certainly transformed Leeds and taken them to the Premiership in style!

Jack Charlton: The Autobiography

Jack Charlton

A timely biography of Ireland’s favourite Geordie!

Let me know your favourite sporting book and why you loved it!

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