BOOKS: Loud Hurrahs for a Man with a Moustache; Boots, Balls & Haircuts, by Hunter Davies, Cassell, Pounds 20. Reviewed by Hyder Jawad
Byline: Hyder Jawad
For an author who struck gold when he won the rights in the Sixties to write the authorised biography of The Beatles, and silver when he wrote The Glory Game inthe Seventies, Hunter Davies seems to prefer growing old gracefully.
Ambitious efforts of a previous generation have given way to less threatening publications yet he still has the knack of catching the mood to place extraordinary situations into ordinary contexts.
In Boots, Balls & Haircuts he has produced a social history of football that owes its quality as much to lavish illustrations as to his typically ironic prose.
No risks here, but plenty of nostalgia. Davies, the owner of a timeless moustache, takes us from the unheralded formation of the Football Association in 1863 to the outrageous earnings of David Beckham in 2003; from the working-class revolution of the nineteenth century to the middle-class renaissance of modern times.
It is a familiar saga but, unlike many of its genre, tells the story through the eyes of the human being.
Human interest is Davies's forte and he is never better than when he provides laconic, often satirical, character sketches.
'The slowest, dopiest people to realise the fortunes available in football were the football authorities themselves,' he states with perception.'They cut themselves off from most commercial merchandising and advertising possibilities, feeling above such sordid, mercenary worlds, not wanting their pure game, which they perceived as a labour of love, to be tainted by nasty commerce.'
Davies does not tell us the story, he shows us it, and the journey is more enjoyable as a result. …