The big clue is in this volume's sub-title '250 Lists of essential and non-essential Arsenal facts'. The non-essential lists does exactly what it says on the tin book. Take for example 'The 10 Most Common Initials for Players Surnames'. Who on earth needs them or cares? '10 For Tea' Gives ten players who when interviewed in the match day programme prefered tea to coffee - and the point is what exactly? 'The Top 10 British Counties where Players were born'* * Only covers players since World War 2, quite apart from being well beyond even an Arsenal anorach's needs. 'Ten First Kisses of Arsenal Folk', 'Last 10 Matches at the Manor Ground'.and there's more. Had this book had a serious culling of all the lists provided, and unfortunately no one is credited with having edited it, it could have been vastly improved.
The good news however is that most of essential lists are fine if you enjoy lists, which I do. There's plenty of useful stuff to keep anyone happy but if you know your onions you'll also discover than quite a few of these lists have been ripped off from elsewhere and not updated. Or give, say, a goals tally for a season but which only includes League matches. Or gives, for example, the goal scoring facts on Thierry Henry that only takes account of his first 186 goals. What could be more pointless or irritating than out of date statistics? Ripping off outdated statistics is not what new books should be about.
Like I say, much of the book has a point, and is of interest to those inclined towards statistics and off the wall facts, it looks to be mostly accurate, but some of it I found just plain irritating. Take take for example 'The 10 Highest Home attendances over a season' why limit, as indicated by a small asterist, this list to only post-war crowds? 'The 10 Lowest home attendances (Highbury)' why list league games only? 'The 10 Highest-Scoring Gunners at International Level' this would be quite a reasonable list if it didn't include all the goals scored whilst with other clubs. Davor Suker comes second to Henry in this list but how many of his 45 goals did he actually score whilst with Arsenal? '10 Goalscorers who have scored for and against the club'. Fair enough, but why then list only one of the two games mentioned without even indicating which one is which?
The '10 Lowest Home Attendances (Highbury)' cites at numer 5 Preston North End with a crowd of 7,233 on 26/9/1938. I can't even find a game on this date, the Preston match that season was watched by over 40,000 in October and not a single home crowd dipped below 25,000 in 1938-39. So what's that all about?
Items such as '10 Memorable Penalties' are much better because it actually tells you about the penalties chosen rather than just list them, but such pages are rare in this title. 'The 10 Highest-scoring Championship Seasons'. Fine. But how is a layman really to compare the various seasons of goals scored without any indication of the variable number of games played in each season?
The proof reading could also have been better. In the '10 Home Nation One-Cap Wonders' there is someone porportedly named Herdie Roberts. While 'The Top 10 African Appearance Makers' are featured in the wrong order. '10 Fanzine Names' includes one that wasn't actually a fanzine. And '10 Notable Managerial Achievements by Former Managers' manages to miss out on Ted Drake winning the League Division 1 for Chelsea but includes Dave Bowen who only ever won promotions.
By all means buy this book, there's some interesting stuff in it, but have a look at it first before committing your tenner. Then again if you only have a tenner save it for the next book I'm reviewing which is called 'The Pocket Book of Arsenal'.
Gunners Lists: 250 Lists of essential and non-essential Arsenal facts
Recommended retail price: £10.00
Published by Hamlyn
Any decent bookseller that doesn't stock it will order it in for you if you quote the following reference: ISBN 978-0-600-61875-1. Or it can of course be obtained from any of your favourite online bookstores.asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work (it says).