Book Review: Life in the Beautiful Game by Bob Wilson

Last updated : 17 November 2008 By Brian Dawes

It is the sort you can read in bits and bobs. Or if you'd prefer you could try reading it all in just the one hit, but only providing you're able to find time to spare for such a mammoth 472 page bonanza.

Normally, as regular readers will be aware, I only review Arsenal titles but as this one inevitably includes more than a reasonable share of red & white material I'll be making no apologies for this exception. The pages are divided into a fabulously random potpourri of what can only be described as great football stuff. I counted over 140 football people and subjects covered in a very indiscriminate manner, other than I guess, their relevance to Bob and football in particular. There is no way of guessing what topic will be next, which somehow allows the reader to arrive at the next item as yet another random treat. For example by picking a page entirely at a random I first got a succession which ran: The Kop, Frank McLintock, Footballers of the year, Gordon Banks & Jimmy Greaves. Next up was: Tom Finney, the Bosman Ruling, Jock Stein, Scottish Champions, Don Revie and Foreign investors in English Clubs which was another random sequence I picked entirely by chance. To name all the contents would almost spoil the pleasure of discovery but if I tell you the book covers numerous great footballing names from Stanley Matthews to Theo Walcott via George Best & Bill Shankley hopefully you'll get the drift of the footballing delights that await you.

Kevin Keegan is quoted as saying 'Bob has been a part of football for 50 years so he was always going to have some good stories up his sleeve. However, these aren't good. They are much better than that.' And indeed they are.

Arsene Wenger describes this volume as 'A great insight into a great game from a great man' and who am I to argue with Le Boss? All I can do then is recommend it for those who love the 'beautiful game' as Pele so eloquently put it. And he of course is included in this book, the title of which pays an indirect homage to the very greatest of footballers. Which reminds me. I almost forgot to mention all the great quotes which this volume has scattered throughout. For example, "Pele is to football what Shakespeare is to the English literature" - Joao Saldanha, former Brazil coach. Or "If God had meant football to be played in the air, he'd have put grass in the sky" - Brian Clough. To mention but two.

The Willow Foundation in case you were not aware is a charity set up by Bob and his wife Megs in memory of their daughter Anna. In essence it is a charity which provides 'Special days for seriously ill young adults aged 16-40'. The charity has grown from being a small local charity in Hertfordshire to a National Organisation, and one that provided 1,400 such special days during 2008 alone. For more information or better yet to make a donation go to:

Life in the Beautiful Game

Bob Wilson

Published by Icon Books

Price £16.99

Any decent bookseller will order it in for you if you quote the following reference: ISBN 978 184831 018 6. Or it can of course be obtained from any of your favourite online bookstores.