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Irish Football > Football Books > Irish Books

Irish Football Books

Over the years there have been a lot of books written about the great game of football. Books about the history of the game, about individual football clubs, great footballers, international teams, specific tournaments, referees and a whole host of other soccer topics. A surprisingly large number of books have been written about football in Ireland and Irish footballers.

At I review football books that I have read myself and I also publish well-written reviews by other contributors. If you would like to submit a review of a football book for publication please email me at the following: Soccer Book Review Submission. Please note that I only publish original reviews that have not been published online previously.

Kicking Through The Troubles
John White (2017); Empire Publications

From growing up in a war zone to befriending the greatest football manager in the history of the game, John White's story is remarkable. Growing up in Northern Ireland in the 1970s was tough but the prospects for John, a Catholic raised in the Short Strand area of Belfast, were even more restricted. Hemmed in on all sides by Protestants and patrolled on a daily basis by British army forces, John and his neighbours soon learned to make light of the searches, patrols and threats of attack by neighbouring communities, even accepting regular interruptions to games of street football as a daily occurence.

Blood, Sweat and McAteer
Jason McAteer (2016); Attrium
ISBN: 9781473636064

The fighting McAteers: that's how the McAteer family of title-winning boxers were known throughout Birkenhead, across the Mersey from Liverpool. But for eleven-year-old Jason McAteer, growing up in the shadow of Liverpool FC, football became the dream. After signing with Bolton Wanderers at the age of twenty-one, the call to the international scene followed with the Republic of Ireland and, soon after, to his beloved Liverpool FC. The dream had become a reality. From his time with the Irish World Cup squad of 1994 to those tumultuous days in Saipan in 2002; on through his decision to leave Liverpool for Blackburn Rovers; his move to Sunderland, and the depression he fell into after finishing his professional career with Tranmere Rovers, Jason McAteer looks back with characteristic honesty and humour on his life - the jokes, the matches, and the personalities.

The Irish Soccer Split
Cormac Moore (2015); Attrium
ISBN-13: 978-1782051527

Making use of extensive primary sources from the IFA, FAI, the English FA and the Leinster Football Association as well as contemporary newspaper sources, The Irish Soccer Split details the events and causes that led to the split in soccer in Ireland. It compares soccer to other sports that remained or became united after partition. The Irish Soccer Split recounts the early years of the FAI and its attempts to gain international recognition. Many efforts were made to heal the division throughout the 1920s and the early 1930s. Efforts were renewed during the Troubles in the 1970s and 1980s to bring about an all-Ireland international team. Some came very close, all ultimately failed, leaving soccer in Ireland today, as it is politically, divided North and South.

The Rocky Road
Eamon Dunphy (2013); Penguin Ireland: ISBN-10: 1844883329 / ISBN-13: 978-1844883325

The Rocky Road is the first half of Eamon Dunphy's autobiography. This sometimes divisive figure has been in the public consciousness in various guises for more than 30 years. His book covers Dunphy's formative years - growing up in Drumcondra on the northside of Dublin and his football career in England. Dunphy also deals with his career as a journalist and as a football pundit up to and including his controversial commentary on the 1990 Word Cup finals. It is a great read and a fascinating insight into this controversial figure.

Dave Langan: Running Through Walls
Dave Langan with Trevor Keane & Alan Conway (2012); The Derby Books Publishing Company Limited : ISBN: 978-1-7809-101-09

Fullback Dave Langan's style of play and his totally committed performances made him a firm favourite with fans of club and country. His robust tackling and rampaging runs along the right flank stirred the blood. The kind of player that the Irish love and admire. It was during a typical Langan performance, for Ireland against France at Lansdowne Road, that he suffered an injury that would ravage his career and his body, and ultimately ended his footballing days. The Irish football authorities and management repaid his commitment by denying him a well-earned testimonial, questioning his talent, and not even bothering to tell him that he would not be taking part in Euro 88. A reasonable expectation for a player that had done more than his fair share to help Ireland qualify for it's first major championship.

Following the end of his playing career his life continued in a downward spiral that involved drinking and gambling problems, broken marriages, working as a milkman, ending up broke and homeless. Despite the vicissitudes that life threw at him Dave Langan never completely lost his dignity and with the help of committed friends and fans he eventually received something approaching the recognition that his performances in the green shirt of Ireland deserved. This is a touching telling of a the story of a remarkable man and a great Irish footballer.

Irish Devils: The Official Story of Manchester United and the Irish
John DT White (2011); Simon & Schuster Ltd : ISBN: 978-0-85720-644-2

From United's earliest days as Newton Heath, the club had links with the local Irish community. However, it was only after the war with Johnny Carey, and then two Busby Babes, Jackie Blanchflower and Liam Whelan, that the links began to bring trophies to United.

But if there was one man who cemented the club in the affections of the Irish, it was George Best, who inspired a generation with his glorious skills. Since then a series of players have made the trek across the Irish Sea - Sammy McIlroy, Norman Whiteside, Denis Irwin, Roy Keane and John O'Shea among them - and they have been accompanied by increasing numbers of fans, who take the ferries and planes to come and cheer on their idols at Old Trafford.

In John White's fascinating and passionate book, he looks at not only at the Irish stars who have helped make United what it is, but also finds out the fans' stories. They recall their experiences following the club, and their most special memories of a love that crosses all boundaries in Ireland: the Reds and the Irish united as one.

Gaffers: 50 Years of Irish Football Managers
Trevor Keane (2010); Mercier Press : ISBN: 978-1-85635-666-4

Did you know that an Irish manager did not pick the Irish football team until 1969? Do you know who that manager was? Contrary to popular opinion, Irish football management did not begin with Jack Charlton! From the early days when Irish footballers travelled across the Irish Sea on ships, through to today's superstars, the role of the Irish manager has changed and this book charts their experiences as both players and as managers in the dugout. The Irish football manager is a high profile and prestigious position with many dramatic highs and lows. Including over 55 personal interviews from all the key personalities and the people who knew them best, this book gives a long overdue insight into what it's like to be the manager of the boys in green. For lovers of statistics (and there are plenty!), the book lists results for all the managers during their time in charge as well as their win/loss ratio, so we can finally decide who was the greatest manager Ireland ever had ...

Freestaters: The Republic of Ireland Soccer Team 1921-1939
Donal Cullen (2007); Desert Island Books Limited : ISBN: 978-1-905328-36-9

In March 1926 a group of Irishmen left the Irish Free State on a journey that took three days. Their destination was Italy and they were travelling to play their first full international soccer match. The journey was long. It began five years earlier when an internal dispute within the Irish Football Association found itself entangled in the political division of Ireland. The Split led to two rival Irish associations playing international soccer. Freestaters covers the events before and after that first full international football match in Italy. Irish teams entered and nearly qualified for the World Cups in 1934 and 1938, travelled to Nazi Germany, and launched the careers of some of the finest players ever to wear the green shirt.

Off Centre Circle
Ger McCarthy (2009); Echo Publications (Cork) Limited : ISBN: 978-0-9562443-0-7

Off Centre Circle is a witty account of life in the junior soccer leagues. While the story is based in West Cork, it represents junior soccer in all the countries of the world that are affiliates to FIFA. There are no superstars in junior soccer, but there are heroes and villains. The glamour of a Milan derby might attract the rich and famous to the San Siro, but can it capture the rivalry, discord and sheer antagonism of a clash between Clonakilty and Bantry Gunners with vital league points at stake?

Keane: The Autobiography
Roy Keane with Eamon Dunphy (2002); Michael Joseph Ltd: ISBN: 0-718-14554-2

Ghost written by Eamon Dunphy, Roy Keane's autobiography charts the former Manchester United and Ireland greats' childhood and his football career up to the infamous Saipan Affair in 2002. It is a no-holds-barred account of Keane's approach to football and to life in general. This version of the book includes the details of the premeditated nature of his horror tackle on Alf-Inge Haaland that was excised from later versions.

Who Stole Our Game: The Fall and Fall of Irish Soccer
Daire Whelan (2006); Gill & Macmillan Ltd; ISBN-10: 0717140040 / ISBN-13: 978-0717140046

Daire Whelan is a journalist and former sports writer in his he reflects back on the the 1950s, League of Ireland grounds were full on match days. Move on half a century, with more media attention and greater financial resources than ever being pumped into soccer, the Irish football fans have turned away from the Irish game. How has the League of Ireland failed so miserably over fifty years? While the Irish senior international team is supported, and the English Premier League is a national obsession for many football fans, who is responsible for the demise of the League of Ireland? "Who Stole Our Game?" tries to establish the answers.

The Team That Jack Built
Paul Rowan (1994); Mainstream Publishing Company (Edinburgh) Ltd / ISBN: 1 85158 670 9

Covering a period from the 1960's to 1994 Paul Rowan outlines that factors that lead to the rise and rise of Jack Charlton as Irish soccer manager. Published in 1994, Rowan's book falls short of the demise of the Charlton era in December 1995. Starting back in the days when the Irish team was picked by a committee Rowan charts the trail up to the appointment of Jack Charlton as Irish manager. Included in this are early Irish football managers, Mick Meagan, Liam Tuohy, John Giles and Eoin Hand.

Triggs: The Autobiography of Roy Keane's Dog
Paul Howard (2012); Hachette Books Ireland / ISBN: 978-1-44474299-2

This is Paul Howard's first departure in fiction from the Ross O'Carroll-Kelly series. Inspired by erroneous reports of the death of Roy Keane's dog, Triggs, in 2010 (Triggs actually died in 2012) Howard set about writing a fictionalised account of Triggs and the life that she shared with one of football's most controversial characters. Howard presents this hilarious account of Triggs life story as an autobiography so we get Trigg's take on what it was like to live with Keane and on some of the more memorable events that occurred in the former Manchester United captain's life and career.

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