Inter-lull! No footy, What to do?
Read a book!
Well if that’s what floats your boat and you’re desperate for an Arsenal fix there’s plenty out there to bridge the gap until our next game. You could of course just sit in front of Sky Sports and wait for some sort of Arsenal snippet, the kind that’s “coming up after the break” but appears on the box an hour later... those Sky guys! Why not reminisce? Go behind the scenes picturing the heady lifestyle of a top flight footballer, laugh along as if you were in that same changing room when the banter was banter and not all #bantz. You never know - you might learn something!
The life story written in his own hand by one of Arsenal’s legendary number nines Alan Smith. It follows the rise of Smudger from Southern league at Alvechuch through Leicester, Arsenal, England then retirement and Journalism. What is quite surprising about this book is it’s honesty. I always took Alan Smith as quite a harmless, laid-back type of player, but there’s a lot of self-doubt and regret within these pages; along with a few surprises. The realisation that England was a level above Arsenal he couldn’t quite reach, and the overwhelming confidence and character of Ian Wright sapped him of all belief. As a fan you watch, as I did back then from the North Bank, and just think Smudger’s having another ‘off day’. The main premise of the book is to relive the two main highlights of Alan Smith’s career with The Arsenal; yes he won two golden boots and league titles, and had a good career at Leicester, but the two matches he is most remembered for are ‘that game’ at Anfield in ‘89 and scoring the winner in Europe against Parma in 1994 the ultimate 1-0 to The Arsenal. There’s plenty of entertaining insightful stories along the way, definitely worth a read.
Addicted - Tony Adams & Rock Bottom - Paul Merson
As the titles show these books will either make you question your loyalty to such players, or celebrate their rise above adversity. Heavy going in places, I personally didn’t drink for a month after reading them, whatever that means.
Stillness and Speed - Dennis Bergkamp & Gunning for Greatness - Mesut Ozil
Much more in these books about the ‘mind’ or ‘why I’m a genius footballer’, lots of determined stories of pushy Dads, instinct, and with Ozil a few tales from his early years, which go some way to explaining his current plight in the Arsenal team and the national side.
We all live in a Perry Groves World - Perry Groves & Romford Pele - Ray Parlour
Ok, so you just want the banter, stories you can use for pub knowledge. Won’t take you long to read these, but entertaining stuff.
A life in Football - Ian Wright
I think this is the favourite of my current batch. Really interesting life experiences to explore, honest and brutal in places, makes me love this guy even more. Ian Wright Wright Wright!
"But I can’t be bothered to read a footballers book, they’re all the same", I hear you cry.
Then why not watch?
This is not just a re-run of that game at Anfield in 1989, but a really good documentary giving you a real flavour of the era, of the sounds and of the football in the late eighties. There’s great insights from the players and the ref from the game itself, plus great footage of post-match antics in a bar in London which I’d never seen before. Well worth a view!