Book Review: The Nowhere Men – The Unknown Story of Football’s True Talent Spotters by Michael Calvin

With the number of football books that are released each year, they have to focus on a unique topic or be very well written to stand out from the crowd. Michael Calvin’s The Nowhere Men ticks both these boxes.

This book is a result of an excellent piece of journalistic work by Calvin as he spent a year amongst football scouts. It provides an insight into what is for the most part an unglamorous and poorly paid occupation. The reader shares the journey with scouts as they spend their evenings and weekends travelling the country in all weathers, taking in games on park pitches, non-league fixtures and specially arranged games behind closed doors. They are a mixture of ex-pro’s, retired teachers, as well as coaches and managers looking for a way back into the dug-out; all in search for that one diamond in the rough.

It is also a book that provides contrast.

There is a huge irony that talent spotters who work for next to nothing are looking to uncover young kids who could go on and play in the richest League in the world. Money talks and that means Premier League clubs are able to have a network of scouts at home and abroad, while those lower down the food chain have to make do. Calvin also explores the art of the old and the new, where the scout’s art of being at games and making a judgement with their own eyes, now collides with new technology, where stats and video clips are king.

In an interesting conclusion, Calvin, sees similarities with the world of the scout and his own profession. “Journalists become inured to the absurdities of an insanely competitive profession, but remain vulnerable to perceptions of progress…assailed by accountants, who relate hi-tech methods to low cost bases…Those of us who remain in the trenches tend to care, even though we disguise our commitment with gallows humour and guttural laments for what we once had.”

Read this book and enter a part of the hidden football world that ought to be cherished.


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Posted September 25, 2014 by Editor in category "Reviews


  1. Pingback: Book Review: Whose Game Is It Anyway? Football, Life, Love & Loss by Michael Calvin – football book reviews

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