Roger Slater is a long-time fan, former secretary and board member of Wealdstone FC. As a writer he has been involved with three books for the club, History of Wealdstone FC, Off The Bench – A Quarter of a Century of Non-League Management and Behind the Season. In addition, Roger provides material for the Wealdstone match day programme, the 2nd Yellow and strangenbOUnce websites as well as various forums.
1. Left Foot Forward: A Year in the Life of a Journeyman Footballer and Left Foot in The Grave: A View from the Bottom of the Football League by Garry Nelson
Two for the price of one at the top of the list! I’ve always been a sucker for the underdog, and Garry probably had what most people would call an unspectacular career in the game. A ‘steady pro’ my dad would have said, but even over two volumes, a great read especially as it lacks the fake glitz and glamour of those ‘ten-a-penny’ superstar biographies.
2. The Miracle Of Castel Di Sangro by Joe McGinniss
I loved the thought that this could – and did – actually happen. It’s a while since I’ve read this book, but a lot of the story is still fresh in my mind. I suppose as a non-league fan, there’s a part of me that wonders or is it hopes that something similar could happen over here. Castel rose from Serie C2 to Serie B. It doesn’t sound much as it’s only three levels in Italy, but it’s probably the nearest equivalent there will ever be to the original Southern League Wimbledon making their way to the Premiership….Come on Wealdstone, your turn next!
3. Clown Prince of Soccer by Len Shackleton and Football Ambassador by Eddie Hapgood
Another two for the price of one here – these days, these two are probably best found at a book fair or a boot fair! I’ve got a historical bent (among others many may say) and having researched and written the History of Wealdstone FC, I really enjoyed reading about football between the wars. Perhaps because I could image what I was reading and even see the images in black and white, yet these two were characters and stars in their own right, though they still travelled to the game on the bus…..
4. Brian Clough: Nobody Ever Says Thank You: The Biography by Jonathan Wilson
Was ‘Cloughie’ an enigma? He was certainly a feature of my formative years as a football fan and for that he got my respect and admiration. I can’t believe there are fans today that don’t know who he was, what he did, and perhaps even what he meant to so many….read this and find out!
5. Big Fry: Barry Fry: The Autobiography by Barry Fry
I’m lucky enough to have met Barry on a number of occasions. No matter what you think of him, it’s probably accurate. If you wrote this book as a script for a TV programme it would be rejected, because all those things can’t happen to one man. The problem is, they did – and they still do.
6. Where’s Your Caravan?: My Life on Football’s B-Roads by Chris Hargreaves
Who? They all said in unison, and frankly, that’s the point. For every Rooney, Terry, Owen or Beckham, there’s fifty Chris Hargreaves yet without them, there would be many a Saturday afternoon devoid of a reason to escape the house. Just another real pro playing his way round the lower leagues…..
7. Trautmann: The Biography by Alan Rowlands
As a kid, I knew of Bert Trautmann and his broken neck in a Cup Final. I didn’t know that he was a German Prisoner of War that stayed, nor did I know anything else. This is one of those where the story makes you think and I suppose, makes the book.
8. Who Ate All The Pies? The Life and Times of Mick Quinn by Micky Quinn and Oliver Harvey
An honest account from an honest pro and all the trials and tribulations that he encountered. I’ve met Mick through Horse Racing – he actually stood next to me as I cheered home a horse I had a share in, to third place on its first run at Southwell – frankly, he’s just a nice bloke!
9. Stan Bowles: The Autobiography by Stan Bowles
In a former life I worked at QPR – I’d watched Rodney Marsh before he moved on and ‘Bowlesie’ was the next star in the number ten shirt. Strangely, a quiet man (he still is, as if you drink near Griffin Park you’ve probably not noticed him in the pub), this book brings back memories of when a player with that much skill and flair could really make a difference. And I was there one day when he came back from the bookies in an overcoat and his kit ten minutes before kick-off…..
10. The Bromley Boys: The True Story of Supporting the Worst Football Team in Britain by Dave Roberts
Anyone anywhere who supports a football team – except maybe the ‘plastics’ at the top five clubs – should read this, because whether in your recent memory or not, or even maybe in your future, this could be you and your club. It’s certainly been mine. I followed QPR in 1968, a season when we even cheered if we won a corner….
On the Subs bench:
Just outside the top ten, but right up there (although I’m biased as they all played for Wealdstone FC), Psycho: The Autobiography by Stuart Pearce, Vinnie: The Autobiography by Vinnie Jones, and There’s Only One Simon Garner: An Autobiography by Simon Garner – all worthy of a place in a slightly longer list. Off The Bench by Gordon Bartlett is a damn good read too!