Complete Reviews & Ratings


Here you will find the complete list of books reviewed here and an overview of the rating system. Use the search function above to find the review that you want to read.

Essential reading

There might not be enough room in the bookshelf, or space in the carry-on bag. Nevertheless, any one of these books demands a spot within easy reach for the most discerning of football enthusiasts to peruse at a moment’s notice. These books are insightful, witty, incisive, timeless, ground-breaking and re-readable (to use the bare minimum of superlatives). There isn’t much room at the top, and this elite, Praetorian guard prowls and protects that lofty platform of superb footballing long-form.

Brilliant Orange: The Neurotic Genius of Dutch Football – David Winner
Danish Dynamite: The Story of Football’s Greatest Cult Team – Rob Smyth, Lars Eriksen, Mike Gibbons

Top tier

A top piece of writing that, in its own right, worthy of critical acclaim in professional circles. It leaves an indelible, long-lasting impression on the reader, yet something–however slight–holds the book back from becoming a classic.

The Unbelievables – David Bevan
Ajax, Barcelona, Cruyff – Frits Barend & Henk van Dorp

Recovering – Richie Sadlier



It could be an original idea, or a good recapitulation on a well-trod subject. The book casts a long shadow and may be found on book prize shortlists, but its shortcomings, although defined, do not detract from its quality.

Lost In France – Spencer Vignes
The Bottom Corner – Nige Tassell
The Nowhere MenMichael Calvin
Do You Speak Football? – Tom Williams

A good shout

It may be thoroughly researched and well-written, yet it is lacking a certain spark, flourish, or inspiration in the material that holds it back from greater praise.

Football Clichés Adam Hurrey
Retired Alan Gernon

Middle of the road

Neither here-nor-there, distinctly middle-of-the road reading that may grab your attention with its content (and cover), but lacks continued substance. The land of the decent autobiography that may or may not be ghostwritten, or for books that have not yet received the treatment of time.

The Stupid Footballer is DeadPaul McVeigh

Vested interest

Neither fully fleshed-out, nor inspiring. Flashes of originality few and far between, and may garner interest as an in-vogue topic or in-form player. Not so much a stocking stuffer as it is an airport lounge flash read.

Thirty-One Nil James Montague
My Turn – Johan Cruyff

Very middling

Covers a range of wishy-washy, not-quite-there, well-meaning but ill-presented books that may or may not appeal to a narrow band of fans. There is, most likely, another book that covers the topic twice as well.

Give a wide berth

The author can do better, and as a reader, so should you. This is the point where you should be discerning of what you read.

Nope out

This isn’t a direct non-recommendation, for this book is for someone out there. If you pick it up, you may not finish it. And if you do finish it, you may want your time back.

Johnny Cooper, Championship Manager – Chris Darwen

The bottom of the barrel

This is, however, a definite non-recommendation. Dispatches From Row-Z reads this so you don’t have to. Given a half-star by default.