Book Review: How to be a Football Manager by Ian Holloway

With the managerial roundabout in full swing already this season, the question once more crops up: who would want to be a football manager? Well, ask most football fans, and they’ll probably think they can do a better job than some managers, and they may not be wrong. Let’s be honest, we’ve all sat there, in the stands or on the sofa, watching our teams lose and called out the manager for their tactical choices, their personnel choices or, perhaps in lieu of anything else, their fashion choices. After all, when it’s all going pear-shaped, we often wonder how hard can it be to pick eleven players, to get them passing ten yards, to not concede yet again? From our lofty perches, it seems like child’s play, but former QPR and Blackpool manager Ian Holloway has been there, done it and got the stories to prove it’s a lot harder than it looks. So, just before you hit send to wing your CV over to put your name in the managerial race for those teams looking for the next Pep Guardiola, it might be worth a quick perusal of Holloway’s How To Be A Football Manager, to discover just what it takes to sit in the managerial hot seat.

There are few managers as entertaining and honest as Ian Holloway, traits that have occasionally backfired on him, but nonetheless made him a memorable and engaging character in the game. Having spent almost two decades playing, for the likes of Bristol Rovers and QPR, Holloway continued his footballing career on the side-lines as manager at clubs including Leicester City, Crystal Palace and most recently Grimsby Town. Across four decades in the game, there’s very little that Holloway has not seen, done or experienced, working across the leagues, and whilst a post-match glass of wine with Arsene Wenger or a pre-season friendly against Real Madrid may sound like the stuff of dreams, the life of a football manager is often much more mundane and challenging. From picking a starting XI to overseeing contract negotiations, dealing with referees to managing in a pandemic, Ian Holloway reflects on the highs and lows in the dugout with his trademark honesty.

The book is full of Holloway’s own stranger-than-fiction real-life episodes, including the time he put his personal address on the QPR website inviting disgruntled fans to come and share their grievances face to face (none did) and the time that a pre-season prank by his players ended up with Holloway making a trip to the local police station. Holloway’s managerial career is littered with such frankly outlandish but true tales, begging the question whether it could only happen to Holloway or whether Jurgen Klopp has a similar dossier that he’s just waiting to release. Although I can’t imagine Klopp, or any manager in the top leagues come to think of it, inviting round disgruntled fans – and they’re probably wise not to. But when it comes to player acquisition, chairmen strife and press conferences, off-piste coaching and handling players, Holloway may very well be in a league of his own.

As mentioned already, one of the great strengths of Holloway, that comes across so explicitly in this book, is his honesty, but not only honesty, a complete candidness and forthrightness. And crucially it’s an honesty that is applied equally to everything, be that when he speaks about difficult chairmen, underperforming players or himself. Indeed, Holloway is unflinchingly honest about his own failings and shortcomings, recognising the moments where he has made a mistake or overstepped the mark, and neither too afraid nor too proud to try to make a change. It’s a shame that the same can’t be said for some of the other characters in the book. Above all, it’s obvious that Holloway is a man of principle and integrity, one that loves the game and wants to see the best version of it, whether in himself, his team or his supporters. He speaks passionately about protecting his players, about making difficult decisions and his commitment to his teams and you just know that what you see is what you get with Holloway. He is the type of manager who you could bump into in the street, or, as he prefers, in the second-hand shop, and discuss football with, and he would be as honest and open as ever. He would entertain you with stories of the good, the bad and the ugly of the football world, and leave you feeling energised once more about the game, despite the latest VAR debacle, your out-of-nick striker and your penny-pinching owners. He would remind you just why we all love this little old sport called football and why a good manager is much more than their tactics.

Without Holloway, the game has lost one of its larger-than-life characters, but during his hiatus, his book offers a refreshing, eye-opening insight into the real world of football management. Holloway, in yet another measure of the man, thanks ghost-writer David Clayton in the acknowledgements, a classy but oft-overlooked touch in such books, and Clayton merits these plaudits as the book perfectly encapsulates all that fans know and love about Ian Holloway – frank, passionate, down-to-earth and fair. For anyone polishing their managerial CV, those qualities aren’t bad ones to start with.

Jade Craddock

(Publisher: Headline. October 2022. Hardcover: 320 pages)


Buy here: Ian Holloway


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Clive Allen is one of the finest goalscorers of his generation but arguably his biggest battle has been to prove himself the best in his own family.

His remarkable 49-goal haul for Tottenham in the 1986-87 season still stands as a club-record which earned him the rare dual honour of Professional Footballers Association Player of the Year and Football Writers Association Player of the Year in addition to the First Division Golden Boot.

That stunning achievement is the apotheosis of a career which began at Queens Park Rangers before becoming English footballs first million-pound teenager when signing for Arsenal in 1980.

Yet, in one of the most mysterious transfers of modern times, Clive was sold to Crystal Palace without playing a game and went on to represent eight more clubs including a year in France with Bordeaux before a brief stint as an NFL kicker for the London Monarchs.

Read our review here: Book Review: Clive Allen – Up Fron (

(Publisher: deCoubertin Books. October 2019. Hardback: 300 pages)

2021/22 Premier League Books (Part 1) – Gunners to Foxes by Jade Craddock

With the new Premier League season just around the corner and a host of familiar and new players gracing the league, there’s plenty of stories to be written, metaphorically and literally. Here, we take a look at each club and pick an already published autobiography from a player of the Premier League era that’s worth a read and one from the current crop that would appeal.


Past: Arsenal have had some mighty fine players in the Premier League era and some mighty memorable personalities too – a number of which have made their mark in the publishing world. Legends like Sol Campbell, Ian Wright and Dennis Bergkamp have put pen to paper, although, perhaps Arsenal’s greatest Premier League player, Thierry Henry, has never done so, with just Philippe Auclair’s biography, Thierry Henry: Lonely At The Top available so far. Last year also saw the man who led Arsenal for 26 seasons in the top flight and revolutionise the club, not least in shaping the 03/04 Invincibles, Arsene Wenger, publish his first book, My Life in Red And White, and a startlingly frank memoir from cult hero Nicklas Bendtner, Both Sides. Although not autobiography, looking forward, there’s also an exciting project on the horizon which sees Ian Wright’s debut novel for younger readers, Striking Out, published in September. But, as legends go, they don’t come much greater than Tony Adams and two notable autobiographies have been penned with Ian Ridley; the first Addicted in 1998 and the second Sober in 2018 – the titles of which tell you all you need to know about Adams’ battles on and off the pitch.

Present: Arsenal haven’t perhaps had quite the wealth of big-name talent in recent years as they more traditionally have had in the Premier League era, but with Ben White’s arrival this summer and the emergence of some young guns, with the likes of Emile Smith Rowe and Gabriel Martinelli, there’s plenty to look out for from the Gunners. When it comes to penning their life story, captain and talisman Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang would seem like an obvious choice that would surely be full of the goalscorer’s infectious personality. Elder statesmen Willian and Granit Xhaka would also have interesting journeys to share, while despite being only nineteen, Bukayo Saka has already written an impressive entry into Arsenal and England’s history books. But my choice for Arsenal autobiography would be Arsenal’s current longest-serving player, Hector Bellerin, who has not only entered his tenth year at the club and been around in a changing era at the North London side, but who is also an eloquent and passionate speaker on a number of subjects beyond football.

Aston Villa

Past: In the first ever Premier League season, Aston Villa finished second – it proved to be their highest-ever finish in the new top flight as subsequent seasons, and particularly more recent years, have been more down than up. Yet, Villa Park has been graced by some genuine quality and a few iconic cult heroes in the three decades of the Premier League. Surprisingly, though, few of these have had their stories put down on paper. Indeed, the likes of Villa stalwarts such as Mark Bosnich, Ian Taylor and Dean Saunders remain absent from the bookshelves, as do unexpected heroes like John Carew, Savo Milosevic and Juan Pablo Angel. In fact, only a couple of Villa players have autobiographies to their name, including nineties legend Paul McGrath, whilst more recent icon, Stiliyan Petrov, published his autobiography in 2005, prior to his move from Celtic to the West Midlands. So it’s sadly slim pickings, so I’m going to suggest three past players who publishers should consider for future autobiographies: Gareth Barry, who remains top of Villa’s most EPL appearances chart; Lee Hendrie, who rose up the ranks at his local club; and Dion Dublin, who needs no introduction.

Present: Before this month, there was just one man who would have been at the top of fans’ lists in terms of a Villa autobiography – Jack Grealish, but despite Manchester City having put the kibosh on that, there’s still some great and perhaps even more worthy candidates available. With Danny Ings and Ashley Young arriving at Villa Park this summer, they’ve both got substantial journeys to share, whilst John McGinn’s story began in St Mirren before marking his mark at Hibernian and latterly the Midlands club. However, few players have had quite the journey of England’s Tyrone Mings, who spent eight years in the academy at Southampton before his senior career saw him start not at the dizzy heights of the Premier League but at non-League Yate Town. A move to Southern League Premier Division Chippenham followed, before he made his League football bow with Ipswich Town. The Premier League beckoned following a move to Bournemouth in 2015, before he really made his mark at Villa and stepped up for the Three Lions.


Past: As we head into the 2021/22 season, Brentford are the only team never to have previously played in the Premier League since its inception in 1992, having bounced around the old Second and Third Division, League One and League Two and spent the last seven seasons in the Championship, coming close to promotion in 2019/20, before securing their spot in the top flight last season. There are, unsurprisingly, therefore few books charting Brentford players past, although Greville Waterman has penned a couple of tomes on the club and its players, while The Official Brentford Book of Griffin Park was released in 2019, to mark their move from the stadium the Bees have called home for over 100 years. There’s rich pickings then for any wannabe authors out there or publishers who want to fill the Brentford gaps on the bookshelves.

Present: Brentford arguably have one of the best alumni in recent years, with the likes of Neal Maupay, James Tarkowski and Ollie Watkins all making the move from the West London club to the Premier League, and the Bees now have a squad all ready to step on to the biggest domestic stage in football, but one of the standout performers last time out was centre-forward, Ivan Toney, who was League One’s top scorer in 2019/20, before backing that up by becoming the Championship’s top scorer last season in his first campaign for Brentford. In some 45 appearances, Toney, who started his journey at Northampton Town, becoming the side’s youngest player, scored 31 times. His move from Northampton to Newcastle United failed to bear fruit, with Toney being sent out on loan lower down the football pyramid, variously at Barnsley, Shrewsbury Town, Scunthorpe United, and Wigan Athletic, before his move to Peterborough in 2018. Just three seasons on, Toney finds himself, still only 25, finally having his shot at the big time and going on past performances it would be unwise to count him out.

Brighton & Hove Albion

Past: When the Premier League kicked off in earnest, Brighton and Hove Albion were struggling in Division 2, before a period in Division 3. Their fortunes seemed to turn with the new millennium, but as near back as 2011, they were still competing in League One. A few years in the Championship culminated in 2017 in their first promotion to the Premier League, and since then they haven’t looked back. The Premier League era has seen some stalwarts at the South Coast side, but none of these, including second on Brighton’s goalscoring charts, Glenn Murray, and joint sixth, Bobby Zamora, as well as talisman Bruno, have turned their journeys into books so far. The club’s leading goalscorer, Tommy Cook, who was also notable for being a first-class cricketer for Sussex way back in the 1920s and 1930s, was memorialised earlier this year in Tommy Cook: The Double Life of Superstar Sportsman, but for a more recent tome, albeit prior to the Premier League era, the autobiography of Brian Horton, who both played and managed at Brighton stands out.

Present: Brighton have been a team that have caught many an eye since their promotion to the Premier League four seasons ago and have quality in abundance, in both young, up-and-coming talent and experienced pros. One-man-club and current captain Lewis Dunk would be an obvious starting point for a Brighton autobiography, but there’s plenty of other names in the running. Youngsters Tariq Lamptey and Yves Bissouma are ones who are at the beginning of their journeys but certainly worth keeping an eye out for, whilst Percy Tau’s story takes him from South Africa to Brighton with time spent in Belgium. For their wealth of experience, though, it is hard to look past Danny Welbeck and Adam Lallana, and whilst Welbeck has perhaps had the slightly more varied journey via Manchester United, Preston North End, Sunderland, Arsenal and Watford, Lallana’s successes on the European stage with Liverpool top his story off with Champions League and Club World Cup success.


Past: Like Brentford and Brighton before them, Burnley were well out of the Premier League reckoning when it all kicked off in 1992. Bouncing around Division 1 and 2 throughout the nineties, the new millennium saw them consolidate in Division 1, latterly the Championship, before making the final step up the pyramid to the Premiership via the play-off in 2009. It was but the briefest of stays and was repeated in 2013/14 when the Clarets were once more promoted only to be relegated after their first season back at the top. However, since winning the Championship in 2016, Burnley have become a mainstay of England’s top league. Dave Thomas has been at the forefront of charting Burnley’s recent past, including Champions: How Burnley won promotion 2015/2016 and a biography of Bob Lord of Burnley, described as football’s most controversial chairman. So when it comes to the players, it’s another Dave Thomas offering that is worth a look – Paul Weller’s Not Such a Bad Life.

Present: There are some absolute stalwarts to choose from when picking a future Burnley autobiography. The man at the top, by which I mean Sean Dyche, who is starting his ninth season in charge of the club, surely is in the reckoning and is someone who makes for a good listen. When it comes to the players, Ben Mee and Ashley Barnes are amongst the longest-serving on the current roster, whilst Jay Rodriguez is back at his hometown club after an initial spell from 2007 to 2012, before moves to Southampton and West Brom. At 36, Phil Bardsley’s journey has taken him from the Manchester United academy to loans in Antwerp, Rangers, Villa and Sheffield United, before moves to Sunderland and Stoke preceded his switch to Burnley. But Chris Wood has without doubt made the greatest journey, literally, from Ohehunga Sports in New Zealand as a junior, firstly to West Brom, with loan spells at everyone from Barnsley to Millwall, before moves to Leicester, then Leeds and finally, in 2017, Burnley. Wood is one of only six New Zealanders to have played in England’s top flight.


Past: Last year’s Champions League winners have been Premier League mainstays since its first season, winning the league title five times with some of the biggest names in football, from Anelka to Zola. Whilst there have been some high-profile Chelsea autobiographies to date, including Dennis Wise’s memoir, John Terry’s My Winning Season and Frank Lampard’s Totally Frank, there are some obvious omissions, including Gianfranco Zola. Claude Makelele and Marcel Desailly both penned autobiographies, but these haven’t been published in English, whilst there are a number of pre-Premier League reads available, including Bobby Tambling’s Goals in Life and Kerry Dixon’s Up Front. But for a Premier League icon, you don’t have to look much further than Didier Drogba’s 2015 autobiography Commitment. Drogba is one of just 29 players to have scored over a century of Premier League goals and is Chelsea’s fourth-highest goalscorer of all time and greatest overseas striker. He is also the third most capped Ivory Coast player and their top scorer. Whilst at Chelsea, he won the gamut of Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup, Community Shield and Champions League.

Present: Though he moved on to pastures new this summer, Olivier Giroud’s forthcoming autobiography is already in the pipeline and scheduled for release next month, but who else in the Blues’ ranks would have plenty to bring to an autobiography? From current Euros winners to World Cup Winners, there are a host of contenders, not least the Selecao’s captain, Thiago Silva, whose former teams span six countries and include Fluminense, AC Milan and PSG, and who has won trophies in four countries, including the Copa de Brasil, Serie A, Ligue 1 and Champions League, as well as the Confederations Cup and Copa America for his national team. It would take some beating to surpass Thiago’s incredible journey… Step up, N’Golo Kante. The French midfield marvel is one of only six – yes, six – players to have won the triumvirate of Premier League, Champions League and World Cup. (The other five, worth noting for your next quiz night – Fabian Barthez, Juliano Belletti, Pedro, Gerard Pique and Thierry Henry.) Yet despite his successes, Kante hasn’t gone big time. Indeed, away from the pitch, he tends to go under the radar, and that makes fans love him all the more.

Crystal Palace

Past: As Crystal Palace head into the new season, it’s all change at the top, with Roy Hodgson stepping away and Patrick Vieira taking up the reins for his first term in charge in the Premier League, and they’ll be big shoes to fill after the former England man made Palace a firm Premier League outfit. Whilst the Eagles were part of the Premier League from the get-go, they hold the dubious honour of being one of the three teams to be relegated in that inaugural season (quiz-goers out there, two points if you were able to name Middlesbrough and Notts Forest as the other two teams to fall), and despite briefly yo-yoing back to the top flight, the majority of the nineties and noughties were spent in Division 1/Championship. In 2013, however, Crystal Palace once again returned to England’s top division and have stayed there ever since. When it comes to autobiographies, Vince Hilaire’s autobiography published in 2018 offers a pre-Premier League take, whilst Mark Bright’s My Story similarly just misses out on the new era but both are ones to look out for. For something a bit different though, and to get another side of the Premier League story, Simon Jordan’s Be Careful What You Wish For was a finalist for both the William Hill Sports Book of the Year and shortlisted for the British Sports Book Award for best autobiography. And surely Sky Sports pundit Clinton Morrison’s memoir can’t be too far off.

Present: When it comes to Crystal Palace, there’s always one name that’s on everyone’s lips – Wilfried Zaha, and, having been at the club for some fifteen plus years, not counting loan spells, he’s an Eagles mainstay. Defenders James Tomkins and Joel Ward have been around the game for a considerable time, as too has Scott Dann, who has done the footballing rounds. Having just left Crystal Palace for Galatasaray, Dutch defender Patrick Van Aanholt may have been in the reckoning, with a career journey that has spanned some seven English clubs, from Chelsea to Coventry City. Captain Luka Milivojevic vies for a memoir, having come through the ranks in his home country of Serbia, before going on to play in a further three nations, including Belgium with Anderlecht, Greece with Olympiacos and latterly England. However, Christian Benteke’s journey to the top is even more breathtaking, having had to flee Kinshasa as a small child, before a youth career in Belgium that led to senior football with Genk and Standard Liege before impressing at Aston Villa and continuing in the Premier League with Liverpool and Crystal Palace.


Past: Since being founded in 1878, Everton have a rich footballing history, including being part of the Football League from its inception in 1888 and champions first in 1891 and a further eight times, the most recent in 1987. Despite not having such successes in the Premier League, the Toffees have been mainstays throughout the league’s 29-year history. Unsurprisingly, therefore, there are a few Everton books knocking around, including Jim Keoghan’s look at nine players to have worn the number 9 shirt in Everton: Number Nine, Tony Evans’ Two Tribes and a forthcoming book to look out for The Forgotten Champions by Paul McParlan. When it comes to autobiographies, one man who’s missing from the list is Toffees legend, Duncan Ferguson, although Alan Pattullo’s 2015 book In Search of Duncan Ferguson is available. Whilst Peter Reid and Pat Nevin have both brought out entertaining autobiographies in recent years, Cheer Up Peter Reid and The Accidental Footballer respectively, they just miss out on the Premier League era, so the honour goes to goalkeeper and cult hero Neville Southall. Aside from an earlier autobiography, grippingly titled The Binman Chronicles, Southall brought out a second book last year called Mind Games, which explores the important subject of mental health.

Present: After his impressive outing at the Euros this summer, it is hard to look beyond another goalkeeper when it comes to picking a future autobiography. Indeed, Jordan Pickford has been England’s number one for both a World Cup and Euros campaign, getting to a semi-final and final respectively, and is about to embark on his fourth season with Everton. World Cup Golden Boot winner James Rodriguez and Brazilian midfielder Allan’s journeys both take them from South America to Europe before their moves to Everton, similarly for Yerry Mina. Meanwhile, having already made a name for himself in the league, Richarlison spent the summer winning Olympic gold in Tokyo. However, if there is one player that has Everton running through him and defines the club’s recent past it is perennial defender Seamus Coleman, who is now in his twelfth year with the Toffees – only West Ham’s Mark Noble has a longer stay at a single club of the current Premier League crop. Having started out in his home nation with Sligo Rovers, Coleman’s commitment to Everton has been unwavering, seeing him surpass 300 appearances for the club, as well as being a mainstay for the national side. Fans from other teams will wish some of their players showed the loyalty Coleman has.

Leeds United

Past: As the Premier League era kicked off, Leeds United were a mainstay for the first decade, regularly securing European football, but in 2004 the club were relegated to the Championship and worse was to follow just three short seasons later, when a second relegation landed them in League One. Back-to-back play-offs followed before Leeds moved back up to the Championship in 2010, where lower-half finishes were the order of the day, that is until new chairman Andrea Radrizzani pulled off perhaps the most unexpected and spectacular signing, bringing one Marcelo Bielsa to Yorkshire. In the Argentine’s first season, Leeds just missed out on promotion, but despite a COVID-ravaged second season, his team finished the job, earning promotion back to the top flight for the first time in sixteen seasons. Last season saw their impressive form continue and this current crop follow in the footsteps of some Leeds legends of yore. Somewhat surprisingly, players like Nigel Martyn, Lucas Radebe, Ian Harte, Harry Kewell, Mark Viduka and Tony Yeboah are without autobiographies, whilst former players James Milner and David Batty are two of the few to have published books. However, there are few more important books than Gary Speed: Unspoken, which was published by the late-midfielder’s family, following his tragic death.

Present: England fans found themselves a new hero this season in the form of Kalvin Phillips, who stepped up onto the international stage at his first major championship like the proverbial duck to water. Still only 25, there’s plenty more yet to come from the Leeds-born lad who has been at the club for over a decade. Other long-serving players include captain Liam Cooper, right-back Luke Ayling and the versatile Stuart Dallas, all of whom have experienced the club’s startling revival in recent years. And it would be remiss not to mention Patrick Bamford, whose Premier League career, after being let go from Chelsea after five years and six loan spells, variously at MK Dons through to Burnley, was quick to be written off in some quarters when he moved to Middlesbrough in 2017. His move to Leeds a year later though proved his best yet as he was integral to the club’s promotion and he then went on to score in his first game on his return to the top flight, going on to rack up 17 goals – joint fourth with Son Heung-Min, and only behind Bruno Fernandes, Mo Salah and Harry Kane. Key to Bamford’s and Leeds’ success has without doubt, though, been the mercurial Argentinian manager, who has developed something of a cult following. And if there is anyone whose autobiography I’d like to read it’s Marcelo Bielsa’s.

Leicester City

Past: The greatest underdog story of recent history was completed by the Foxes in 2016, when at odds of 5000-1, Claudio Ranieri led the likes of Wes Morgan, N’Golo Kane, Shinji Okazaki and Jamie Vardy to the Premier League title, for the first time in the club’s history. Leicester City firmly placed themselves on the footballing map and have continued to compete, as demonstrated last season, winning the FA Cup for the first time, and kicking the new season off with a trophy in last weekend’s Community Shield. Whilst Harry Harris’s The Immortals charts that incredible season, Rob Tanner’s updated 5000/1 is due out next month. Jamie Vardy’s story from non-league to Premier League winner has already been penned in his 2016 autobiography, and there is even a film about his life in the works. With a lot of the 2016 heroes still playing, further books will surely follow when they come to hang up their boots, but in terms of other autobiographies already available, Emile Heskey published his first book in 2019, whilst Muzzy Izzet’s eight-year spell at the club from 1996 to 2004 covered a tumultuous period which saw the team relegated from the Premier League, before bouncing straight back and then being relegated straight after.

Present: Leicester are blessed with some really exciting young talent in the likes of Caglar Soyuncu, James Maddison and new arrival Patson Daka, and but for a horrific preseason injury that has put him on the sidelines for the time being, Wesley Fofana was sure to have followed up an impressive first season last time out. Old hands like Marc Albrighton and Ricardo Pereira have been around the footballing block and have plenty of experience to show for it, whilst Jonny Evans’ story includes eleven trophies from his time at Manchester United. Meanwhile, you’d be forgiven for thinking Youri Tielemans and Kelechi Iheanacho were older than their mere 24 years, having been in and around the Premier League for several seasons, but both have already made their mark and still have plenty of years ahead. Ten years their senior, Kasper Schmeichel has been at the club a decade and almost as long with the Denmark national team. As one of those who lifted the trophy in 2016 and has been there for Leicester’s incredible journey in recent years, as well as being at the centre of Denmark’s inspiring run at this summer’s Euros, Schmeichel’s autobiography would be one worth reading.

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1992/93 European Cup Winners’ Cup Final

Wednesday 12 May 1993

Venue: Wembley Stadium, London, England.

Attendance: 37,393


[Parma scorers: Minotti  9′, Melli  30′, Cuoghi  84′]

[Royal Antwerp: Severeyns  11′]

Parma: Marco Ballotta, Georges Grün, Lorenzo Minotti (c), Luigi Apolloni, Antonio Benarrivo, Alberto Di Chiara, Marco Osio (Fausto Pizzi 75’), Daniele Zoratto (Gabriele Pin 26’), Stefano Cuoghi, Tomas Brolin, Alessandro Melli.

Unused Substitutes: Marco Ferrari (GK), Salvatore Matrecano, Faustino Asprilla.

Royal Antwerp: Stevan Stojanovic, Rudi Taeymans, Nico Broeckaert, Rudi Smidts (c), Wim Kiekens, Didier Segers (Noureddine Moukrim 82’), Ronny Van Rethy, Dragan Jakovljevic (Patrick Van Veirdeghem 51’), Hans-Peter Lehnhoff, Francis Severeyns, Alexandre Czerniatynski. 

Unused Substitutes: Wim De Coninck (GK), Geert Emmerechts, Garry De Graef.

Referee: Karl-Josef Assenmacher (Germany)


This was the 33rd Final of the Cup Winners Cup and the first at Wembley since West Ham United played in the 1964/65 Final against 1860 Munich.

Parma started brightly and went ahead within the opening ten minutes. Alessandro Melli had a diving header brilliantly saved by Antwerp ‘keeper Stevan Stojanovic, however from the resulting corner, Stojanovic flapped at the ball allowing Parma skipper Lorenzo Minotti to acrobatically hook home into the net. The lead only lasted two minutes, as the Parma defence was put under pressure with Alexandre Czerniatynski putting through a clever ball to Francis Severeyns who ran onto it and clinically finished past Marco Ballotta. On the half-hour mark, Parma went back in front and again the Antwerp ‘keeper didn’t cover himself in glory. Marco Osio crossed into the box and Stojanovic came out only to be well beaten to the ball by Alessandro Melli, who headed home into an unguarded goal. Melli had the ball in the net once more before the break but was aggrieved to see the flag up for off-side, leaving the Italian side 2-1 up at the break. Parma dominated proceedings in the second-half, but only sealed victory six minutes from time, when a ball over the top found Stefano Cuoghi clear of the Antwerp defence, he took a single touch in the box before curling over the advancing Stojanovic for I Gialloblu (The Yellow and Blues) first European trophy.

The low attendance on the night is said to have contributed to the thinking that the competition had a limited future. Indeed just six years on from that Wembley game, in 1999, the last ever Final in the tournament was played out at Villa Park.

The programme from the last Final in 1999 summarised the game under the following headline:

Parma outgun brave Antwerp

The Wembley final was a glittering occasion but both clubs took a tortuous route to London. Parma AC squeezed past Ujpesti TC 2-1, then drew 0-0 at home to Boavista FC before winning 2-0 in Portugal. After beating Sparta Praha (conquerers of defending champions SV Werder Bremen), they won the away leg of their semi-final against Club Atletico de Madrid 2-1, only to lose 1-0 at home.

Royal Antwerp FC needed a penalty shoot-out to beat the Irisj part-timers of Glenavon FC in the first round. Then, having beaten FC Admira Wacker 4-2 in Austria, they contrived to lose 4-3 at home. IN the quarter-final against Steaua Bucuresti an 82nd minute goal by Alex Czerniatynski let them through on the away-goals rule and, in the semi-finals a controversial penalty allowed them to beat Spartak Moscow 3-2 on aggregate.

Walter Meeuws’ side showed similar resilience in the Wembley final. Parma AC opened the scoring in the 10th minute when goalkeeper Steven Stojanovic misjudges a corner and allowed Parma’s captain, Lorenzo Minotti to hook home the ball. But the Belgians replied within two minutes, Czerniatynski playing a lovely through ball to Francis Severeyns. The Italians began to dominate an end-to-end game and Alessandro Melli headed them 2-1 ahead after half an hour. Antwerp offered sterling resistance in the second half, but the game was put beyond their reach six minutes from time when Stefan Cuoghi curled in the third. Parma had become the eighth Italian team to win a Europen trophy.

Two players from Parma that night will be familiar to fans in England from the 1990s, are Tomas Brolin and Faustino Asprilla. Their pen-pics in the programme for the Final were as follows:

Tomas Brolin: Striker. Age 23 (born November 29, 1969) with 22 caps for Sweden (12 goals). Brolin was the hero of Sweden when he led the European Championship hosts to the semi-finals last summer – scoring a brilliant goal against England along the way. Sweden’s current top player, Brolin began with Leksands IF, then GIF Sundsvall and played for Sweden at youth, under-21, and Olympic level before exploding into the senior national team as a 20-year-old in the spring of 1990. His debut was a World Cup warm-up friendly against Wales and Brolin scored twice in a 4-2 win. The next time out he scored two in the 6-0 thrashing of Finland. Those goals took him from nowhere to the 1990 World Cup in four months. Brolin was outstanding at Italia ’90 and Parma surprised bigger rivals by snapping him up. The £900, 000 deal has proved excellent value; Brolin led Parma to a UEFA place in his first season, to the Italian Cup in his second and now – despite knee injury problems last summer – to the club’s first European club final.

Faustino Asprilla: Attack. Aged 23 (born November 6, 1969) with 12 caps for Columbia. One of the most exciting players to have been seen in any of the three European club competitions this season. Parma took a major gamble when they signed Asprilla from the former South American champions Atletico Nacional of Medellin, last summer. But they have been rewarded with some spectacular performances and equally spectacular goals – including the goal which helped end Milan’s 58-game unbeaten run. Asprilla scored both Parma’s goals in the first-leg victory over Atletico Madrid in the semi-final in Spain. But he missed the return after gashing a leg in a bizarre domestic accident whilst visiting his family back in Columbia on between the ties.

Brolin stayed at Parma until November 1995 and moved to England to play in the Premier League for Leeds United. His stay in Yorkshire was unsuccessful to say the least, with his cause nor helped by an ankle injury which meant he never hit the heights of his time in Italy. Brolin’s two-years at Elland Road saw his go out on short loan spells to FC Zurich in 1996 and his old club Parma in 1997. His last hurrah came with a move to Crystal Palace at the back end of the 1997/98 campaign, but with The Eagles relegated from the Premier League at the end of that season he was released, and Brolin returned to Sweden where he retired from playing.

The Columbian stayed at Parma until February 1996 when he moved into the Premier league with Newcastle United. Asprilla was at times brilliant for The Toon but in equal measures inconsistent on the pitch and never far away from incidents off of it. He returned to Parma in January 1988 collecting another European medal in the 1998/99 UEFA Cup Final win over Marseille in Moscow. Asprilla left in 1999 to then see out his career (effectively retiring in 2004), with a number of clubs in South America, including Palmeiras, Fluminense (both Brazil), Atlante (Mexico), Atletico Nacional (Columbia), Universidad de Chile (Chile), Estudiantes La Plata (Argentina) and Cortuluá (Columbia).

Book Review: Clive Allen – Up Front with James Olley

A career in football is hard enough to achieve on your own, but when you are from a football family, then the pressure must be immense. For Clive Allen, that must have been monumental, with his father, Les, part of the Tottenham Hotspur’s team that did the ‘double’ in winning the First Division title and FA Cup in 1960/61, and a younger brother, Bradley and two cousins, Martin and Paul, who also went on to have professional careers in the game.

Clive though played for 17 years at home and abroad, scoring 49 goals in all competitions during the 1986/87 campaign and as a result claimed both the Professional Footballers’ Association Men’s Players’ Player of the Year and Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year, earned five senior caps for England and finished with a scoring ratio of a goal in every two games.

And in Up Front, the majority of the book looks at this journey from his professional playing days as a teenager at QPR, chronologically following his career, including his Million Pound transfer to Arsenal (where he failed to make a first-team appearance), taking in his time at Crystal Palace, a second spell at QPR, Spurs, Bordeaux, Manchester City, Chelsea, West Ham United, Millwall and Carlisle United. Also, included is his time coaching at Spurs and stepping in as caretaker manager at White Hart Lane in both 2007 and 2008, his media career and his single season as a kicker in American Football (NFL Europe) for the London Monarchs in 1997. As such these are fairly traditional biographical content, but make interesting reading, nonetheless, with some honest opinions of certain situations and characters he came across in his football life.

Indeed, the title Up Front seems an apt choice working as it does on two levels. Firstly reflecting Clive Allen’s playing position, leading the line as a forward, and secondly in the phrases definition of someone who is ‘up front’ in being, bold, honest, and frank.

These qualities come to the fore and where the book shows real insight is with respect to Allen’s relationship with his famous father Les. Indeed, the book begins and ends with the pair being presented to the Spurs faithful as part of the celebrations to mark the final fixture at the ‘old’ White Hart Lane and leaves the reader in no doubt as to the significance of Clive’s view of his father, “I’m grateful for his guidance but pained by his parenting.” This seems to pervade the book, with the regret and the damage their uneasy relationship has caused, always appearing to be there under the surface. Further, James Olley who worked with Allen on this book, is able to extract a real sense of the much-travelled ex-strikers character, a man who hated losing, typified by the bust-up Allen had with Arsene Wenger and which appears not to have been resolved to this day, and despite all his success, still wonders ‘what might have been’ if he had scored on his England debut. In some ways the book is an interesting for what it implies and doesn’t say, as that which it does.

(deCoubertin Books, October 2019. Hardcover 300pp)


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Book Review: The Palace Addiction by James Howland

The ‘diary of a season’ format has become a popular outlet for football fans making their mark in the literary world. In general they are published shortly after the end of a season, so it was something of a break with tradition and surprise to receive a request to review a book written in the main during 2014, published in 2015, and which reflects on events 5 to 6 years ago.

However, this is what Crystal Palace fanatic James Howland has crafted within The Palace Addiction, which details the events of the 2009/10 Championship season.

What starts out as a challenge by Howland to attend every Palace game, home and away, league and cup, is superseded by the events on and off the pitch as the club battles administration and relegation. It is a backdrop that in itself sets it apart from other books of this ilk, since the sense of threat to the club’s existence is a very real one and is felt deeply by the writer.

Where The Palace Addiction also wins is that it is a very honest account of the author and his life as a student at the time, juggling studying, a part-time job and travelling the country following Palace. Howland even describes himself as, “youthful, naive and foolish”, although very much in a self-deprecating way that is a feature of his writing.

Of course the match day routine is there – beers before, beers after and numerous trips to empty the bladder – as well as tales of mad midweek dashes to ground, missed trains and goal’s that never were. However, the ability to reflect and articulate his experiences are a key strength of the book and enables Howland to view the effect the challenge had on his family, social life and his studies.

A nice touch also are the various quotes that intersperse the chapters from players and management who featured during that season, as they look back on certain games or the season as a whole and reinforce the idea that 2009/10 was a special one indeed at Selhurst Park.

As with many self-published books the editing and proofreading could have been tighter (which the author himself acknowledges), but this is a minor criticism of a book that details an important season in the history of Crystal Palace and which creates an authentic picture of devotion to ‘your club’, which football fans the world over will recognise.


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Book Review: Just Visiting – A grumpy old fan’s journey into English football’s Promised Land by S. B. Mann (Match Reports by Mark Gardiner)

“Just Visiting”, is the story of Crystal Palace’s 2013/14 season in the Premier League, one in which the football pundits, (and maybe even some of the Palace faithful), predicted would see the club from Selhurst Park confirm their ”yo-yo team” status and return to the Championship.

Indeed the belief that ‘The Eagles’ sojourn in the English top flight could have been a brief one, is alluded to in the title of this book by S. B. Mann.

The cover is eye-catching, featuring the black away kit used during the season which came to be known as the “evil sash”.

Of the book itself, it consists of 343 pages and follows a diary format from the preseason outing at Dagenham & Redbridge, taking in the League Cup and FA Cup fixtures along the way, through to the final Premier League game at Craven Cottage against Fulham.

In terms of the content, there is a formulaic approach with S. B. Mann providing his thoughts and anecdotes on match-days, with a detailed report by Mark Gardiner, which includes Gardiner’s marks for the Palace player’s on the day. The book also contains a season summary, which includes a review from Mann and Gardiner, details of their ‘Player of the Year Awards’ and a more comprehensive match-by-match analysis of the marks awarded by Gardiner. This approach and detail ensures that the book is a thorough review of the season from two obviously very dedicated and devoted Palace fans.

Interestingly and honestly, Mann explains that the idea for the book didn’t come prior to the start of the season, but was triggered instead by the visit to Anfield a couple of months into the campaign. This meant that the author had to retrospectively recount his thoughts from the preseason and the games up to the Liverpool fixture.

The reason for mentioning this is that rather like Palace’s opening fixtures in the 2013/14 season, the book is slow to start and this is maybe down to the fact that Mann has to recall his thoughts from the early games. Indeed, in a parallel to ‘The Eagles’ fortunes, the longer the book goes on, the more the author seemed to warm to the task and the immediacy of the diary approach works, as the reader is introduced to Mann’s match-day routine at home and away.

Mann covers many of the gripes that affect modern day fans – price of tickets, changing of date and time of fixtures, clubs fielding weakened team in the League and FA Cup, the influence of SKY – as well as talking about events such as Heysel and Hillsborough. His use of ‘endnotes’ is useful in providing links to articles and websites that reinforce his points.

However, there are other topics which get quite an airing, these being away ticket allocation, the issue of fans standing or sitting, the treatment of disabled fans and finding somewhere at grounds to smoke. Mann’s concerns around the method of away tickets allocation and the standing/sitting debate, is an issue close to home as it relates to his mother and the need for her to be able to sit down with an unobstructed view. The author approaches the subjects with an honesty and integrity that is apparent throughout the book.

Whilst Mann provides overall observations on the fixtures he attends, Mark Gardiner provides detailed match reports, which as Steve Browett (Co-owner of Crystal Palace) observes in the Foreword, “are far more valuable and insightful than any that you will have read on the back pages of the Sunday papers.”

Gardiner writes with no little humour; some of it very much tongue-in-cheek, an example being that from a preseason friendly at Selhurst Park, in which he observes, “Lazio spurned some good chances and probably eased off in anticipation of sampling a night out in Croydon.”

The combination of material from Mann and Gardiner works well and as stated earlier, this is a book with honesty and integrity. Overall, it is a good review of a memorable season for the Palace faithful, through the eyes of two loyal fans. There is so much that is positive and can be recommended about “Just Visiting”, however it has its faults.

Mann openly apologises for the “inevitable proof reading errors”. However, despite his candidness in this, the reality is that the book would have benefited from a more thorough proof reading and editing exercise. The book unfortunately does contain grammatical errors, missing words, poor paragraph spacing, and inconsistent use of fonts, with even mistakes on the front cover.

Perhaps surprisingly, there is also a football error in relation to Mann’s visit to what is detailed as the “Hearts v Dundee” fixture. Firstly, the game in Edinburgh featured Dundee United rather than their neighbours Dundee and secondly, Mann states he “headed off in search of Tannerdice”. This is unfortunately wrong on two counts – firstly the spelling should read, Tannadice, and secondly, the game was at Hearts, so the ground he attended was Tynecastle.

Mann states that, “writing a book is often a compromise between the desire and the practical” and so this book is an attempt, “to accomplish something worthwhile within a reasonable budget.”

“Just Visiting” is a book that achieves that aim.

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Book Review: Crystal Palace FC 1969-1990 – A Biased Commentary by Chris Winter

Take all the years you’ve watched your club and then try and pick the best eleven. A time-honoured debate for any football fan, one which can provide heated discussion whilst on the longest of away trips or during the quietest of post-match pints. Quite simply this is the premise for Crystal Palace FC 1969-1990 – A Biased Commentary.

Author Chris Winter attended his first game at Selhurst Park in September 1968 when Palace played Carlisle United in the ‘old’ Second Division, who they thumped 5-0. However, the story of the book begins with the following season 1969/70, with Crystal Palace playing in the top flight of English football for the first time in their history. The book then covers a twenty one year period to 1990, which sees Palace in the ‘old’ First Division and reaching (and losing after a replay), the FA Cup Final against Manchester United. The intervening seasons are a roller-coaster worthy of any theme park, let alone Selhurst Park, and cover Palace suffering consecutive relegations in 1972/73 and 1973/74 down to the third tier of English football. Whilst there, under the flamboyant Malcolm Allison Palace reached the 1976 FA Cup Semi-Final and as quickly as they had left the top flight, they were back after promotions in 1976/77 and 1978/79. However, it was a brief stop as at the end of 1980/81 relegation back to the second tier occurred for a team unfortunately dubbed “the team of the eighties”.

Through the various ups and downs, Winter doesn’t aim, as he says in the books Introduction, “… to produce a definitive statistical record…but rather to set down my…subjective memories of the last twenty one years and my opinions of the characters involved…” The author is as good as his word as the season by season chapters pick up on key games as well as the players, managers and chairmen; some of whom are immortalised in pencil sketches by the author in each section of the book. Winter is not afraid to give his opinions, whether that is in praise of heroes such as goalkeeper John Jackson or damning criticism of short-lived manager Alan Mullery.

What is also evident besides the fluctuating fortunes of the club on the pitch as they bounce between promotions and relegations, are the changes wrought on the club by Malcolm Allison and Terry Venables. In 1973/74 Winter details how Allison changed the colours of the club, the badge and nickname, so that ‘The Glaziers’ became ‘The Eagles’ and “…another gimmick, thankfully a short-lived one, was the printing of bogus nicknames in the programme alongside each player’s name…titles which also embellished their track-suit tops…” However, on a more serious level, Allison also put in place an excellent Youth set-up which Venables when manager benefited from, as he went on to develop a team playing a patient passing game for the Selhurst Park faithful.

After charting the highs and lows of the period from the 1969 -1990 period, the author gets down to the business of selecting his ‘best eleven’. As a reader you might want to skip the books Introduction as Winter provides the eleven selected upfront. My personal preference would have been to only provide the ‘dream team’ once all the analysis of the various players in each position had been provided by the author. However, this doesn’t take away from a book which will provide Palace fans old and new, with material in abundance to discuss the merits of former heroes and villains. Finally, this book is the first of two volumes which cover Chris Winter’s years watching Palace as he also went on to release Crystal Palace F.C. 1990-2011: More Biased Commentary and in that produces not only a ‘fantasy team’ for 1990 – 2011, but a ‘best-ever eleven’ covering 1969 – 2011. Forty two years, now where do you begin…


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Book Review: My Fight with Life by Leon McKenzie

Robert Enke (2009), Dale Roberts (2010), Gary Speed (2011) – three men from the world of football who in recent years took their own lives. That list has nearly been added to by ex-players such as Dean Windass and the author of My Fight with Life, Leon McKenzie, who have both attempted suicide.

From a football perspective, the book details McKenzie’s journey from making his debut and scoring as a seventeen year old for Crystal Palace in 1995 through to his last playing spell at Corby Town in 2012. McKenzie spent five years at Selhurst Park playing in the Premier League in 1997/98 season with brief loan spells at Fulham and Peterborough United, before permanently signing for The Posh in 2000. McKenzie proved to be a hit with the fans and his form in his three years at Peterborough earned him a move to Norwich City in 2003, where he was part of the side that was promoted to the Premier League. In the 2004/05 season McKenzie proved he could play at the very top level in the English game, but The Canaries were relegated on the last day of the season after capitulating 6-0 at Fulham. However, as the 2005/06 season dawned, problems on and off the field were beginning to impact on McKenzie both physically and mentally. Injuries were starting to significantly cut into his playing time, whilst his marriage was on the ropes. Against this background, McKenzie looked to make a fresh start and signed for Coventry City in 2006. Here though his playing time was again hit by a series of injuries, but he did score his 100th professional goal against previous employers Ipswich Town on the opening day of the 2008/09 season. After three years McKenzie was again on the move this time, this time to Charlton Athletic, where with injuries seemingly bringing him to a standstill and the loneliness of living away from his family, he attempted suicide in 2009. His last professional club was Northampton Town in the 2010/11 season, before short stints at Kettering Town and Corby Town.

McKenzie is forthright in his views of the managers and coaches he worked under during his playing career. These range from then Crystal Palace boss Steve Coppell who McKenzie describes as “…a great bloke and real inspiration…” to Alan Smith (whilst at Crystal Palace) and Gary Johnson (whilst at Northampton) as “…by far the two worst managers…ever encountered…” The Professional Footballers Association doesn’t escape his criticism either, as he lambasts the organisation for its slowness in addressing the issue of depression in current and ex-players.

Away from the football, McKenzie is equally direct when talking about his life whether it be his famous boxing relatives, (dad, Clinton McKenzie and uncle, Duke), his marriage break-up, his stint in prison for motoring offences, his plans for the future as a professional boxer or working for Elite Welfare Management advising players about depression. There is much to be admired in that McKenzie is so open in talking about the depression he suffered and the attempted suicide, detailing and understanding how his injuries, coming to the end of a career and the impact of his childhood and family life, brought him to that fateful date in 2009.

However, the book suffers from a numbers of errors which proof-reading should have picked up on and from a lack of editing. This book would have been better served by a linear timeline rather than chapters which jump back and forth and therefore lack fluidity for the reader. Tighter editing would also have ensured that the repetition which occurs in the book was also avoided and the bizarre change in Chapter 14 where the narrative switches from first-person to the third-person.

Ultimately though, this is a brave story and one which can give hope to people (in whatever walk of life), that out of despair can come a positive future.


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Book Review: Crystal Palace FC 1990 – 2011: More Biased Commentary by Chris Winter

Chris Winter is a Crystal Palace fan who has watched his beloved team since 1969 and which have given rise to two books. The first Crystal Palace FC 1969 – 1990: A Biased Commentary and the second, Crystal Palace FC 1990 – 2011: More Biased Commentary (which is reviewed here). After a foreword by ‘celebrity’ Palace fan Jo Brand, Winter explains in the introduction that he has spent some of his years at Selhurst Park providing match day commentaries “…to patients in Mayday Hospital, and to blind and partially-sighted fans at the ground and there is no shame in admitting that my description of the action has always been utterly biased, hence the title and tone of the book…”

For me as a reader there is nothing wrong with that, as you then know exactly what you are getting, or as a well known slogan states, “…it does what it says on the tin…” In terms of the basic outline of the book, Winter provides a season by season summary of The Eagles from 1990/91, when Palace were in the ‘old’ First Division, through to 2010/11 in the Championship. This isn’t a game by game account of each season, and instead the focus is on key games or incidents, with the focal point being the players, whether they made a single appearance or were Palace regulars. There are no glossy colour pictures in the book, but the hand drawn sketches of the players by the author himself is a nice touch.

Not being a Palace fan didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book. Indeed I have to admit to learning a few things along the way about the club from South East London. For instance, did you know that Ashley Cole had a loan spell at Selhurst Park from Arsenal during the 1999/2000 season? What also came across is that The Eagles have had more than fair share of bad luck. A couple of instances stood out for me. The first relates to the 1990/91 season when Palace finished third in the ‘old’ First Division. Arsenal had won the title and Liverpool were second. The team from Anfield were still banned from European competition and so Palace were due to take the spot in the UEFA Cup. However, after ‘negotiations’ between the FA and UEFA, Liverpool had their ban revised and so took the European place. The second incident is from the 1994/95 Premier League season. This would see the league restructured from 22 to 20 clubs through the relegation of four rather than three sides and the promotion of just two from the division below. And the team that suffered the drop finishing fourth from bottom? Of course, The Eagles.

The last season detailed is 2010/11, which was a significant one as the new owners CPFC2010 took control of the club and towards the end saw Dougie Freedman become manager. This could be seen as the starting point of a renaissance, which although saw Freedman move to Bolton this season, has as I write, lead to Palace sitting in second place under Ian Holloway and the dream of a return to the Premier League very much alive.

In closing the book, Winter then reviews position by position, his best eleven from the 1990 – 2011 period and finishes with a postscript which the reveals his all-time fantasy team (covering both books from 1969 – 2011). My one slight criticism is that Winter discloses his best eleven from the 1990 – 2011 period in the introduction to the book, so when reading the positional review at the close of this edition, the suspense of who is in the line-up is already lost. However, this is a very minor point.

Overall, this is a good addition to the bookshelves for any Palace fan, in providing a very readable summary of the seasons since 1990/91 and will spark memories for those old enough to remember and provide a background to years gone-by for younger fans. Football is about opinions; this book will certainly stimulate that discussion and debate amongst its readers.