Friday, 22 April 2011

Book Review – Geoff Hurst, The hand of God and the biggest rows in world football by Graham Poll

This book is definitely from Poundland. Not only because my flat mates bought it me for my birthday (they are students after all), but because it was the usual kind of book that you find there: written by someone you’ve sort of heard of (or their ghost writer), which isn’t very offensive and isn’t a particularly stimulating read.

In fact, I found the book quite annoying. Whilst it did have some interesting pieces about various controversies in World Cup football such as Geoff Hurst’s goal, Schumacher’s crime of the century and Poll’s own personal nightmare where he showed 3 yellow cards to the same player before sending him off, the attempted insight into why the various referees made their errors is clumsy. The reason being is that he makes excuses for the referees errors by saying that they can’t see everything and then lambasts them saying they shouldn’t have made that mistake. It is infuriating and to be quite honest to be so contradictory on the same page is pretty stupid. I would bet you my copy of the book he knocked this out in a week just to catch the Christmas sales.

Another area where the book is poor is the layout of the book. The chapters are fairly short (which isn’t the problem) and are split up into sections such as “Fun Facts” and “Red Card for Poll” (where he remembers a blunder he made). This makes the book seem rather childish and as far as I’m aware it isn’t meant for kids. After all The Guardian reviewed it (they were rather nice about it oddly) under their Sports section not Children’s.

One area where the book is good is Poll’s explanation of the rules of the game. He tries to dispel some of the myths and misconceptions of the game which many people hold. For example I learnt that people who don’t understand the offside rules are morons and that he made a lot of mistakes as a referee. Despite that Poll still thinks he was the best referee in the world at one point. Nutcase.

I think that the main problem with this book is a simple phrase that he uses quite a bit which really sums this book up. The phrase is “in my other book Seeing Red I discuss this further”. Is it just me or is discussing something further the entire point of a book? Funnily enough Mr. Poll there aren’t many people in the world who wait with baited breath for your next book to be published. Isn’t it just possible Mr. Poll that people may not have read Seeing Red? So, is this a blatant attempt to sell more books or is it just sheer laziness? Either way it isn’t great and to be honest I think this is a desperate attempt to sell more books which dramatically fails because the book is in the most part woeful.

Poll’s ‘personality’ doesn’t help greatly either. He tries to come across as ‘one of the lads’ by giving accounts of him drinking vodka with Russians and watching the footie in the pub but his arrogance is unreal. Poll really does think the world of himself which really doesn’t help the book. He never says that he would have defiantly have got any of the big decisions right but he always says he “would have liked to think he would have”. Whilst this in itself isn’t arrogant the manner in which he derides some of the referees and then says that he would have ‘liked’ to have got that right really doesn’t show much sympathy for any of the unfortunate referees and makes him come across as big headed.

So in conclusion, it is absolutely rubbish. Most of the book is written in a fairly childish way whilst still being aimed at the adult reader. Maybe this book would be a good read for someone who didn’t really know that much about football as they could at least learn some of the greater controversies of the game, but for a person with slightly more than a passing interest, this book is a massive waste of time as you have probably come to your own conclusions on the World Cup’s biggest controversies and you don’t need an arrogant dickhead wading in to give his two pence worth. He seems like the kind of bloke that you would walk away from in the pub. Happy reading!

1 comment:

  1. Not at all surprised by your verdict on this - I am not one of those who lays the problems football has at the foot of referees but, my goodness, Poll does nothing to convince anyone who hates the men in black that they are wrong. Time he disappeared back to Tring to work for the local equivalent of Wernham Hogg.