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In Search of Alan Gilzean By James Morgan

Release date: 04th April, 2019
Publisher: Backpage Sport

List Price: £11.99
Our Price: £9.99
You Save: £2 (16%)
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Two football-related books were delivered to our office this week, each a republished version of the original, each vying for a review.

The first purported to be a biography of a well-known football manager. Originally published in 2007, the current version didn’t appear to have been updated in the intervening dozen years and was littered with factual errors. Why publishers do this remains a mystery.

By contrast, the second was James Morgan’s superbly well-researched In Search of Alan Gilzean, a haunting tale surely destined to become a screenplay, originally published in 2010. This is the third edition.

Gilzean needs no introduction to a generation of Dundee or Tottenham Hotspur fans (nor to those of us who form part of the baby boomer cohort) who were lucky enough to see him play. Though he always seemed to play second fiddle to his strike partners, Jimmy Greaves and, later, Martin Chivers, the big Scot, whose bald pate aged him and gave him an avuncular air, was no slouch in the penalty area. He notched 133 goals in 429 appearances for the north London side.

Morgan, a sports journalist and Tottenham fan, began researching his book after a supporter on a Spurs internet forum claimed that Gilzean, who slipped almost unnoticed out of professional football, was living as a down-and-out.

Although it’s the type of throw-away comment one finds regularly online, it adds a sense of mystery to the book’s opening and Morgan’s purpose. Could this particular ether-based assertion be true? After all, no-one had heard of Gilzean for years and when Morgan discovers that some of the ‘basic’ online facts relating to the big Scot’s career were incorrect, he’s determined to set the record straight and discover what has happened. This self-imposed desire to separate fact from Gilzean fiction makes for a great read; it also confirms that anything you read online should be checked for accuracy at least half a dozen times.

It would be wrong to spoil the story for fans unfamiliar with Alan Gilzean, a man crowned the king of White Hart Lane who could direct a header with greater accuracy and zip than many of his contemporaries could with their feet. Buy it.


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