Texi Smith was born in the North East of England, following Newcastle United, the team he still supports, despite him now residing in Sydney, Australia. Besides continuing to follow the fortunes of The Toon from afar, Texi also supports Sydney FC (The Sky Blues) who play in the A-League. He is the creator of the Jarrod Black series of books under the Unashamed Football Novel banner– Introducing Jarrod Black, Hospital Pass and Guilty Party – all reviewed here on FBR.
Texi gives us his Top Ten Football books, providing FBR with an international flavour to our authors favourites, although there is more than a hint of his roots influencing his choices!
- Tony Adams – Addicted
I don’t know why I bought this book ahead of so many others. I read it soon after it was released, and it was a fine introduction to football biographies. It was a very honest read and gave an insight into the psyche of a professional footballer at the top of his game – living the dream whilst living a lie.
- Who ate all the Pies – the life and times of Mick Quinn
Another one from years ago. Amidst a well organised boycott, The Toon kicked off the season against Leeds United. I was there to witness an outrageous game, Newcastle coming from 2-1 down to win 5-2 against the pre-season favourites. Mick Quinn became an instant hero with his four goals that day and he continued to be a hero of mine throughout his time in black and white. This book was a yarn, but a likeable one. I’ve since been gifted another copy of the book and I’m tempted to re-read it to see if my perspective has changed over time.
- The Newcastle Miscellany – Mike Bolam
I picked this one up in the Back Page, a legendary shop down the road from St James Park, on one of my trips back to see the family in the UK. This is just as it says, a book full of sometimes obscure facts about Newcastle United and was a fascinating read.
- Capital Punishment – Dougie Brimson
This one was bought in a bookstore in Melbourne many years ago and I thought it was impressive at the time that a book about football hooligans would make its way around the world onto the shelves of a major book stockist. It was a pretty good read too, and I understand there’s a whole catalogue of Dougie Brimson books now to catch up on. And I will.
- Fever Pitch – Nick Hornby
Don’t groan. I know what you’re thinking. I don’t care what anyone says, this was a bloody fantastic read and was ground-breaking. Having lived the Liverpool v Arsenal game in ‘89 in front of my telly in my teens and watched the unbelievable drama unfold, the Liverpool players surrounding the referee after the first goal and the climax in the final minute, this was everything I could have asked for in a storyline. I believe you can read this book again and get a different viewpoint, but on first read many years ago I absolutely loved this one.
- Surfing for England – Jason Goldsmith
Sometimes simply the idea behind a book is compelling enough to make you dive in. This one is a series of chapters about players from around the world who were eligible to play for Australia but chose to play elsewhere. A series of ‘what could have been’ stories, the title of the book inspired by a Craig Johnstone quote when asked whether he should play football for Australia. Terrific read and I can’t wait for the author’s next one, which is an equally fascinating subject.
- A Season with Verona – Tim Parks
I’m putting this one in even though I’ve only just started to read it. The concept of the book is fantastic, my only gripe so far is that the font is so small that my tired eyes don’t cope when I’m reading at night! I’ve got a feeling so far though that it is a cracker and I’m looking forward to having a bit more time to give it in the coming weeks.
- Boy on the Shed – Paul Ferris
Any book about a Newcastle United player, especially one from my era on the terraces at St James, is worth a shot. This one was my holiday read at the turn of this year. I found it superbly written, quite rightly winning accolades back in the UK. It was one of those books that leaves you wanting more at the end. I kind of wanted it to stop so the author could take up the story again later in life and continue it.
- Whatever it Takes – the inside story of the FIFA way – Bonita Mersiades
I thought I understand the plot of the 2018/2022 World Cup bid fiasco before reading this one. I’d only scratched the surface though, and this book took me deep into the process and jogged memories of just how disappointed we all were when the winners were announced. A book of two halves I’d call it, a rip-roaring read in the first half that made me wide-eyed at some of the goings on, then a second half of dissecting the characters and trying to work out answers to how and why. The cast list is enormous, there are new names cropping up all the time, but that adds to the craziness of the whole situation. I was absolutely wrapped up in this book and found myself reading well into the night to finish it.
- Full Time – The Secret Life of Tony Cascarino – Paul Kimmage
I was given this book by a mate who just nodded and told me to trust him. I’m glad I did. Perhaps the timing of reading this book, the fact that I’d spent a lot of time in France around the same era, or maybe it was just because it was a fabulous read, saw me unable to put this bloody book down. Heart-breakingly honest and wonderfully relevant, I instantly fell in love with this tale and I was almost distraught when I finished it. A 10/10 classic which you simply have to read.
Bench-warmer: Frozen in Time – Steven Scragg. This one doesn’t feature in the top ten as I’ve only recently got it and I’ve not given it a chance over the last few weeks. I need some quality reading time and I’m determined to get stuck in properly – the first chapter bounced around so much that I couldn’t follow, but I’m putting it down to being absolutely wrecked every time I picked up the book. Legacy – Tim Cahill gets an honorary mention too – loved following his early years at Millwall in the book. It did get unnecessarily fluffy towards the end. Still really enjoyed it. Anyone who can put their whole life into words is very brave in doing so, and what a talented player.