Book Reviews

Ian Redford: Raindrops keep falling on my head

Written by Michael Temlett.

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In the early hours of Friday morning I finished Ian Redford’s autobiography reading some of the closing words: “Who knows what the future will bring, but whatever comes my way I will be up for the challenge…”

These words echoed round my head as, late on Friday, I heard the news regarding the former Scottish international.

Redford’s book catalogues his life from an early age with his family up until last year – when the book was finished – discussing his newfound love for playing golf and writing.

The ex-Rangers star does not hide any of his past problems in this book, including his battle with alcohol and his fractured relationship with his father.

However, in the closing chapter “Injury time”, Redford seemed to have found new motivations in life in his business and his personal life which makes the news from Friday all the more shocking.

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Shades: The short life and tragic death of Eric Schaedler

Written by Lewis Barnes.

Scottish Football was rocked to its core over Christmas 1985 with the tragic and somewhat mysterious death of Erich Shaedler.  Popular, hard working and seemingly content many people view his death as unexplained and his loss is still felt deeply, particularly at Hibernian Football Club and the other sides he played for.  Colin Leslie’s book gives not only a unique insight into the Scotland International and Turnbull’s Tornadoes but also football at that time.

Extensively researched “Shades” leaves no stone unturned as it follows Erich from his upbringing in Peebles as the son of a German prisoner of war through spells at Stirling Albion, Hibernian (twice) Dundee and Dumbarton and of course his inclusion in the Scotland squad for the 1974 World Cup culminating in his death at a Border’s beauty spot.  Friends, family, teammates and managers all have inputs ensuring all of Erich’s life and career is told with interest, detail and accuracy.

For younger Hibernian supporters such as myself the book gives unparralled access into the lives of Shaedler and the rest of the Turnbull’s Tornadoes, probably the best Hibs side of all time.  Shades is one of the less well known Tornadoes and the author deserves great credit for bringing his fascinating story to life with such style.  Almost the entire side are interviewed including a foreword by the legendary Pat Stanton and all speak of Shaedler with nothing but fondness. 
 
A dedicated and hardworking player, Erich was a fitness fanatic and whilst not the most skilful player in an era blessed with talented Scottish players he was living proof that hard work can take a little bit of talent to the very top. 
 
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The University Bible: The Ultimate Guide to Student Life

Written by Andrew Southwick.

TO prepare for university, you need more than some pens and a snazzy new schoolbag. The ultimate student bible is here to talk you through every aspect of being a student.
 
This isn't just a book filled with advice, it's also the bizarre story of a student and his friends struggling through four years at university, and somehow making it out the other side.
 
From choosing your course and filling in the UCAS form, to interviews and open days, this book will make sure you make no mistakes in getting into your dream course.
 
You'll learn all about living in halls, freshers week, surviving in a new city, making friends, what part-time jobs to get, and how to deal with landlords and crazy flatmates - even knife wielding ones.
 
There's also the small matter of passing the degree, coping with exams, writing essays, and making presentations. Not only that, but what to do if everything doesn't go to plan.
 
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Rangers FC: We Don't Do Walking Away

Written by Jamie Milligan.

FEBRUARY 14 2012 is a day that rocked Scottish football to the core. There were gasps of disbelief, stunned phone calls to family and friends and a fully blown cyber-space meltdown.

Rangers Football Club, one of the most revered footballing institutions in Europe had been brought to its knees and applied to enter into administration.

Just nine months earlier the Light Blues and their faithful followers had been toasting their 54th league title in emphatic nature. Now here they were staring into the financial abyss.

Rangers, of course, entered administration before being liquidated following an unsuccessful attempt to find a buyer for the stricken club.

The rest, as they say is history. Rangers were incredibly demoted to the Third Division, star players left in their droves and Ally McCoist was left patching together a threadbare squad - finding out his club had been granted a licence to play just hours before their opening match.

The story since has been quite incredible, so incredible that Scottish football writer Lisa Gray has compiled an inside account of the Gers’ struggle to get back to the top.

In the years to come many books and articles will be penned about Rangers’ journey back from the abyss, but none will give the startling insight and first-hand accounts that Gray’s book gives.

Through her work with the Press Association as Rangers’ correspondent, Gray has gained quite phenomenal access to the people affected most by the club’s demise.

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Book Review: Paradise Road

Written by Grant Milne.

PARADISE Road by Stephen O'Donnell portrays how football has greatly changed over the years, just as life has for Kevin McGarry - the likeable character the book follows - as he prepares to up stakes to Prague.
 
The book goes into depth with the themes of bigotry and sectarianism – still an issue in both Scottish football and society today as it was in the mid 90’s – and covers well how many people still feel about the issue even nowadays; How the bigotry needs to be tackled.

The book gives off an impression of similarities of how life could be for the average Celtic fan now and then in a positive manner, such as how the money-making business of football began to come into play, the ever-expensive luxury of the season book, differences between going to games then and now; made very simple for supporters of a certain vintage to relate to.

The writing style comes across as similar to that of Irvine Welsh in the likes of Trainspotting, with the unmistakeable Glaswegian accent implemented in the protagonist’s thoughts as well as the obvious blasphemous language with that vivid, somewhat crude sexual detail, coupled with how the protagonist continues to rotate as performed in the Trainspotting novel, and creates a humorous tone detail from the outset. Conveys all things wrong with life in a perhaps sinister, harsh yet funny way (i.e. the female newsreader on pg.147).

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Book Review: Glory in Gothenburg

Written by Andrew Southwick.

By Andrew Southwick:
 
BBC Scotland's Richard Gordon clearly likes a challenge. Writing a book is hard enough, never mind trying to tell a story already entrenched in every Scottish football supporters' mind.

Everyone knows about May 11th, 1983, when a provincial club from the North-east of Scotland shocked arguably the biggest club in the world on a rainy night in Gothenburg.
 
School teachers across Aberdeen struggle to engage their pupils in the Treaty of Versailles, or the tales of the Highland clearances, but their job is already done should they wish to teach them about the night their local team, led by a pre-knighted Alex Ferguson, lifted the European Cup Winners Cup.

Even those fans who have no love for the Dons have to grudgingly give respect to what the Gothenburg Greats achieved as within a few months they took the scalps of Bayern Munich, Hamburg, and none other than Real Madrid.

Willie Miller, Alex McLeish, Gordon Strachan, Jim Leighton, Eric Black, John Hewitt. It doesn't matter whether you were in Sweden clad in red, or born a decade afterwards wearing different colours, you could name half the side straight away without needing to pause for thought, such is their legend throughout the country.

Therefore, when Richard Gordon sat down to tell the story of the Dons' finest night, he faced a monumental task. Just how do you keep things interesting while there is surely nothing left to tell?

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Book Review: The Lone Rangers

Written by Michael Temlett.

By Michael Temlett:

“The Lone Rangers” by Tom Maxwell details the highs and (many) lows of the extraordinary story of Berwick Rangers Football Club – an English club who have played in Scotland for over a century.
 
Maxwell gives a detailed account of the history of the so-called “Dream Team” and with insight from former Berwick greats such as John Hughes and, the man who was voted Berwicks “player of the Millennium”, Ken Bowron. Other high-profile names such as Trevor Steven, Gordon McQueen and the former player, manager and chairman, Jim Jefferies make this book a thoroughly enjoyable read.

Maxwell is a lifelong Berwick fan and as he states in “The Lone Rangers” its his dream to see his beloved side reach the European stage, showing the reader that Maxwell has not lost his sense of humour.
 
Maxwell strikes a fine balance between detailing the history of the club but by keeping it light-hearted he manages to stray away from making the book seem as dull as an history lecture. With references to MP’s expenses, James Bond and Berwick “boy racers” the laughs keep on coming throughout.

When a Club can boast a team full of Scots that plays in England yet is ruled under the Scottish Football Association there are no shortages of talking points for Maxwell and his interviewees. The book also delves into the Scotland v England aspect that takes place both on and off the pitch at Shielfield.
 
With almost every player and fan interviewed claiming to have heard abuse about being English – despite the large majority of them being Scottish – Maxwell throws up a very interesting observation that most Scottish opponents are obsessed with their English counterparts whereas the people of Berwick do not view these games as cross-border competition. With the hot topic of Independence currently being thrown around in Parliament it adds yet another aspect to the book.

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Pack Men: Rangers in Manchester

Written by Ken Pratt.

Ken Pratt reviews the new book 'Pack Men', written by Alan Bissett, which is set in Manchester during Rangers' visit for the 2008 UEFA Cup final.

THE BLURB says Pack Men by Alan Bissett is the fictional story of three pals and one child trapped inside the powderkeg of Rangers UEFA Cup Final riots in Manchester in 2008. In a city rocking with beer, brotherhood and sectarianism, the Falkirk, Rangers fans (if that makes sense) struggle to hold on to their friendship, as they turn on each other and the police turn on them.
 
But Pack Men is much more than that. It is the story of the narrator Alvin coming to terms with his own bisexuality in the face of the aggressive, macho, and sectarian behaviour of some of his pals on the way down to the game on the bus. More so, it is the story of the narrator trying to cut through the preconceived notions and highly taut tensions of Scottish male heterosexuality. It is also a subtle portrait of a Scottish artist as a young man as Alvin tries to explain that he is a writer, amidst quizzical side-glances and rampant drink fuelled innuendos.
 
The book also tells of the eternal struggle of the educated working class male posing questions about identity, isolation and alienation.Where do you go? How do you behave? What do you actually say when you have grown to fundamentally disagree with your mates and when you are still, in spirit, working class, but in mind increasingly middle-class. The book uses effective flashbacks to recount the delicate moment when Alvin has simultaneous sex with his English flatmate John and their mutual friend Sara while at Stirling University. Bissett paints an endearing image of this special moment against the brutal backdrop of the infamous Manchester riots.
 
By the way, it’s also the sort of book that will give you some real insights into what actually happened in Manchester, as the author almost doubles-up as ethnographer as well as creator of first-class literary fiction.
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