In Praise Of… “The Beautiful Game? Searching For The Soul Of Football”, by David Conn


Ian began writing Twohundredpercent in May 2006. He lives in Brighton. He has also written for, amongst others, Pitch Invasion, FC Business Magazine, The Score, When Saturday Comes, Stand Against Modern Football and The Football Supporter. Ian was the first winner of the Socrates Award For Not Being Dead Yet at the 2010 NOPA awards for football bloggers.

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9 Responses

  1. Chris Taylor says:

    “The beauty of it is in the detail, from Kris Stewart putting “1889? as the club’s start date on their application to join the London FA”

    That’s mint.

  2. Michael Wood says:

    Truly the Zeitgeist football book although it is odd to read the chapter on Charlton with knowledge of their current situation and odder still to consider that had the book been written five years earlier the chapter on Geoffrey Richmond would have extolled the virtues of the chairman who put the club in the black and made it pay for itself every year until those titular six weeks of madness.

  3. admin says:

    I think that the important thing to take from it is that managing something sensibly has to be a constant, and not something that can be picked up and put down at will.

  4. Michael Wood says:

    I think that the important thing to take from it is that managing something sensibly has to be a constant, and not something that can be picked up and put down at will.

    That should be written in tablets of stone and sent out to every football club at every level. The site covers many distressing stories of non-league clubs hitting the wall because of issues out of their control but we have also seen clubs at that level mortgage their futures against supposed promotions which do not materialise or spending budget on players.

    Be it Manchester City or My Recreation Ground FC good management is ensuring that the club never commits beyond its resources on the promise of rewards to come. Geoffrey Richmond – and Bryan Richardson at Coventry – both did this but they are far from alone in that. Leeds are perhaps the most obvious example making plans based on appearing in the Champions League for the next 25 years (reportedly).

    The tragic thing – and the thing that Conn highlights in his book – is how little the footballing authorities feel there is a need to look at – or even ensure that there is – business plans for its members or any kind of restrictions on their trading.

    Of course the concept of “restrictions on their trading” is more popular in the post-bank bail out days and perhaps the FL will follow the Conference in trying to get some semblance of control over the members.

  5. JamPot says:

    “He infamously insulted AFC Wimbledon by claiming (a claim that overstepped the line between idle speculation and slander by a country mile), …. this sentance is incomplete…… what did he claim???

  6. admin says:

    God. I am an idiot sometimes. Have updated.

  7. Gervillian Swike says:

    Absolutely spot on – an excellent book by a first rate journalist and writer.

    Ironically, I think that the issue of Graham Mackrell’s role at the Hillsborough Disaster is overplayed a little – I wouldn’t want to understate the importance and responsibility involved in ensuring an up-to-date and meaningful safety certificate, and Mackrell certainly has to shoulder part of the blame, but there were so many other appalling factors at Hillsborough that day. Perhaps I can throw a plug in for another excellent book, “Hillsborough – The Truth” by Phil Scraton.

    But to return to Conn’s book, it really is a first class and – perhaps surprisingly – entertaining read. His articles for the Guardian are snapshots really; in this book he has the time and space to tell the story more fully and weave the various strands in with fundamental principles that we all take for granted, but are so rarely there anymore.

  8. rik says:

    JamPot – I did a search on the Wimbledon site and found this 28 April 2006 “St Albans statement”. It seems St. Albans’ solicitor sent them a letter accusing them of understating the crowd in a cup match (gate receipts are shared in such games) and made an official complaint to the FA and seemingly contacted the media.

    I won’t post the whole statement (you can find it on their website – search the news for ‘solicitor’) but I think the following captures the essence of the matter.

    “These scandalous allegations were straightforwardly and comprehensively disproved by us. Not only did we provide our extensive documentation which records tickets and receipts, but we even had video stills of the crowd reviewed, which showed that the crowd was very close to the stated 1,953 and nowhere near the 3,000 claimed, with no supporting evidence, by St Albans City FC. In fact, St Albans City FC have not had a home gate of over 1,000 in the last three years and have never played in front of 3,000 people at Kingsmeadow, so it is hard to see where the allegations came from.”

    They also point out that “the FA has confirmed that there is absolutely no case to answer”

  9. gertcha says:

    admin – I don’t wish to be picky but you should remember when we played Basingstoke in the 01/02 season – it was, after all, September 11th, I went with you and we won 2-0 and football was the last topic of conversation
    We did beat Braintree 3-1 in November that year :)

    As for John Gibson, you could write 50 articles on him and the way he’s run the club – Let’s not forget two of his finer moments, not condemning the players when they assaulted supporters after supporters criticised them on a message board and actually blamed the supporters and when a group of supporters raised just short of £1000 for a sick child of a rival team he wouldn’t allow any mention of it in the program because he didn’t like some of the supporters doing it

    Sounds like a good book BTW

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