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The Smell of Football by Mick Rathbone

Release date: 25th July, 2011
Publisher: Vision Sports Publishing

List Price: 12.99
Our Price: 8.48
You Save: 4.51 (34%)
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As he prepares for the start of the football season, the average football fan in need of relief, having realised that his team's latest South American signing is not the new Maradona, should read Mick Rathbone's engrossing autobiography, The Smell of Football.

Described by Everton manager David Moyes as "the best signing I have made at the club", 'Baz' started his career as an awkward, but promising full back at Birmingham City in 1975. His ability was not in question, but he was so nervous he found it physically impossible to pass the ball to his boyhood hero, Trevor Francis. Not surprisingly, this unfortunate trait restricted his progress.

Football in the mid-seventies was a completely different game to today and 'Baz' captures the era's mood perfectly. Downing a few beers most nights was the professional player's norm and while some aspects of training were physically demanding, 'Baz' paints a picture which has you believing that some of the players were not much fitter than many spectators.

Moving to Blackburn Rovers, he spent eight years at what was then a dilapidated Ewood Park. His description of conditions on and off the pitch remind us how far football has come in the space of twenty-odd years. Whether this progress has been a good thing remains open to debate.

Baz's playing career ended at Preston in the early nineties, after which he found himself at Halifax effectively doing three jobs - part-time player, assistant manager and physio. It is here that the smell of liniment oozes from this excellent book. But management failed to suit him and after enrolling on a four-year physiotherapy course, Baz realised he was on his way to discovering his perfect football role. It turned out to be as head of medicine at Goodison Park.

Baz's subsequent sense of footballing fulfilment contributes greatly to what is at times an hilarious tale, laced with the odd regret and a smattering of industrial language.

If the build up to the new season has you anxious, worried or concerned, remember: it's only a game. Fortunately, The Smell of Football reminds us that it's one full of laughs and shouldn't be taken too seriously.


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