Surviving cancer, death threats and the Premier League
Television has taken us inside the Premier League, into the lives of its players and managers, as never before but what is it really like to be a referee in the modern English game, trying to control a bunch of millionaires and their stressed-out leaders?
Then getting home to find out you’ve made a mistake and been identified in millions of households as public enemy number one? To be issued with death threats on social media by football ‘fans’ who say they hope your cancer returns?
Mark Halsey also lifts the lid on surviving the internal politics, personalities and intrigue of top-flight refereeing, on altercations with Sir Alex Ferguson and earfuls from Wayne Rooney.
Running through Halsey’s powerful and poignant story is his brave battle with throat cancer, through surgery and gruelling treatment, after which the popular Halsey returned to the top. It granted him no immunity from the dangerous stresses that can afflict the modern referee, however - stresses that included those death threats.
What kept him going for 17 years at the top? Strength of character, a loving family - and the unlikely friendship of a man supposedly the enemy of referees: one José Mourinho.
FOREWORD BY JOSE MOURINHO
"Mark Halsey has been one of our finest referees and has an inspirational story that goes beyond football." DAVID MOYES, Manchester United manager.
"A top referee and a top man. Mark always brought a smile to a game and remembered that crowds had come to see the players." STEVEN GERRARD, Liverpool and England captain.
"I admired Mark's courage and conviction that he would beat his cancer. He came back to give high-quality performances that won regular praise from managers and players. He did it his way and demonstrated great communication skills that were appreciated by many involved in our great game." KEITH HACKETT, former head of Premier League referees.
LONGLISTED for Best Autobiography, British Sports Book Awards 2014
THERE'S A GOLDEN SKY
How twenty years of the Premier League has changed football forever
In its first 20 years, the Premier League has moved football from a state of unprecedented crisis against a backdrop of recession, strikes and hooliganism to a global sport of unimaginable riches. To mark this anniversary, Ian Ridley takes stock of a phenomenon that has changed English football - and English society - forever.
Taking in the game at all levels and across the country, There's A Golden Sky is a full picture of the game today with all its glitz and glamour, rags and riches. From Hackney Marshes, clinging on in the shadow of the Olympic Park, to the vastness of Old Trafford; from Doncaster Belles women's team to the rebirth of Cornish football in Truro; through to the modern game's relationship with Sky and the big bucks of Abramovich, Ridley takes us on a journey through the English game - from grassroots to the top flight.
"Classic Ridley; impeccably researched and beautifully written. A revealing journey into football's soul." HENRY WINTER
"A fantastic read - informative, incisive, intriguing. And masterfully put together by one of the UK's best sports journalists." LEE DIXON
"Here's that rare thing in moder football writing: a sense of perspective." TOM WATT.
BEYOND THE BOOT CAMPS
Football inside and out
From selling fruit and veg out of his car boot after training, to life under lower division eccentrics such as John Beck and Barry Fry, TALES FROM THE BOOT CAMPS was Steve Claridge's hugely entertaining and successful autobiography of life outside the Premiership. After more than a thousand appearances with twenty-two clubs, Steve Claridge finally hung up his boots at the age of 41. By retirement, he'd experienced a vivid and varied footballing life, both on and off the field.
BEYOND THE BOOT CAMPS picks up where TALES left off, in the summer of 2000 at Portsmouth FC where he started, and hoped to end, his career. But best laid plans often go awry - there were plenty more highs, lows and controversies to come: disastrous player-manager roles; public break-ups with club authorities; the briefest of managerial spells; reality TV fame; and a prestigious media career. BEYOND THE BOOT CAMPS is a fascinating and frank insight into the game, and the life of one of its most colourful characters.
An intimate portrait of football's last romantic
At Liverpool in the early 1970s Kevin Keegan won three First Division titles, two EUFA Cups, two FA Cups and the European Cup. At Hamburg he was crowned Footballer of the Year two years running, won the Bundeslinga title in 1978-79 and reached the European Cup Final. At Southampton he was voted PFA Player of the Year and was awarded an OBE for his services to Association Football. In his debut season with Newcastle United he helped the club to promotion and he captained the England team for six years from 1976-1982.
As a manager his career has been no less newsworthy, although not always for the right reasons. Five heady and successful years at Newcastle from 1992-1997 were followed by more controversial spells with Fulham, England and Manchester City. In 2005, Keegan announced his retirement. Then, in 2008, he made headlines by returning to Newcastle United, the scene of his greatest triumphs -- an announcement which was greeted ecstatically by Newcastle supporters -- and no less sensationally resigned in acrimonious circumstances only nine months later.
A revered sports journalist with unparalleled access to insider exclusives, Ian Ridley is the perfect man for the task of understanding what it is that makes Kevin Keegan tick. Training his brilliantly incisive and penetrating gaze on Keegan, Ridley offers an unprecedented insight into the mind of this most enigmatic of men.
How to save a football club
The Southern League team of Weymouth FC were in dire straits: nearly half a million in the red, dogged by boardroom squabbles, a decrepit ground, falling turnouts and an end of season performance that saw them lose 5-1 to arch enemies, Yeovil Town. Join Ridley on his rollercoaster journey as he shows just what can be done with a dose of obsessive commitment and unstinting optimism. It's a story of political backstabbing and petty rivalry; of euphoric highs and personal pain; of a man that thought that it should be simpler. Who thought that football - that Weymouth - deserved better. Brilliantly observed, infused with Ridley's trademark wit and peppered with fascinating insights into the machinations of boardroom football, FLOODLIT DREAMS is a compelling journey into the hinterland of the beautiful game.
HERO AND VILLIAN
Paul Merson provides an honest account of a year in football, starting with England’s 1998 World Cup campaign and his bitter departure from Middlesbrough, and ending with the conclusion of the 1998/99 Premiership season.
Merson’s career reached its peak as he gained selection for Glenn Hoddle’s England squad for the 1998 World Cup. Four years had elapsed since he openly admitted his alcoholism and addictions to gambling and drugs, and France 98 heralded the start of an incident-packed year for the former Highbury hero.
His insider’s view of the England camp makes fascinating reading: consoling an angry Gazza after his omission from the squad; the ribbing of Hoddle on the training ground; witnessing the dropping of David Beckham and the rise of Michael Owen – his partner on the pool table – and taking part in the epic match against Argentina, in which Merson scored a penalty. And the road to Euro 2000 is proving to be a bumpier ride than many experts had forecast.
On the domestic scene, Merson highlights his unique relationship with Gazza, the angst over his departure from Middlesbrough – what did Bryan Robson say to Merson on the day he left? – and behind the scenes at his new team, Aston Villa. He provides an illuminating insight into his new team-mates, including the troublesome Stan Collymore, and tries to identify the cause of Villa’s rapid fall from grace having led the Premiership at Christmas.
Capturing with startling clarity the day-by-day events on and off the field – including Merson’s latest harrowing battle against overcoming his alcohol addiction and the knock-on effect on his private life – this book will appeal to those interested in what life is like for a professional outside of football as well as to followers of the English game.
Tony Adams is one of the legends of English football. Inspirational Arsenal captain and winner of a clutch of medals in English and European competitions, he has also nearly 50 England caps. All this despite his drinking problems which made him contemplate giving up the game altogether.
For the first time, Adams writes what it’s like playing with the best players in the game, from Gazza to Dennis Bergkamp, and working with some of the most successful managers, including George Graham, Terry Venables, Glenn Hoddle and Arsene Wenger.
But above all, his story is that of a winner, a man who has brought the intense determination he has shown on the field to his recovery from illnesses off it.
Adams recalls graphically and openly his descent into alcohol addiction, which at one point saw him jailed for drink-driving. Just as he was finding his feet again after the slow rehabilitation process, problems with his marriage surfaced and soon after Adams found himself heading for a divorce. He talks honestly about that traumatic period in his life and also about the pressures and demands of being a top-class footballer in the modern era.
This is a frank and challenging autobiography, a human interest story as well as a football story, of a player willing to go to any lengths to succeed.
TALES FROM THE BOOT CAMPS
Away from the glamour and wall-to-wall coverage of the Premiership lies the reality, for the majority of fans and players, of British football. From Claridge's early days with non-league Weymouth, to the Premiership with Leicester, and back to First-Division Portsmouth, Tales from the Boot Camps spans the lows of irregular salary payments and training sessions on dog-fouled carparks at Aldershot, and the highs of the last-minute win in a First Division play-off at Wembley, and on to the Premiership. Controversial, itinerant, but popular wherever he has played, Claridge also talks frankly about his addiction to gambling. Part biography, part autobiography, it is full of insight and dry wit, a unique portrait of British football.
CANTONA: THE RED AND THE BLACK
A critical biography of the controversial but highly talented footballer, Eric Cantona, who was suspended from football for almost a year in 1995 for assaulting a supporter during a game. The book chronicles his life and career, gathering testimony from team-mates, coaches and managers.
SEASON IN THE COLD
A journey through English football
The 1991/92 English football season saw conflict between the governing bodies over the breakaway Premier League, controversy over the role of television as paymaster and tune-caller, the threat of a players' withdrawal over the lack of representation, and the possibility of a boycott by spectators in the face of exploitative bond schemes. Ian Ridley spent the winter in search of the heart of the game - a search which encompassed not only England, Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal, but also Barnet, Wembley FC, Doncaster Belles and the Sunday-morning teams on Hackney Marshes. This is his account of that journey through a football year.