Life's a Pitch, edited by Michael Calvin

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The Independent Culture

Practically all football writers start following the game as fans but if they graduate to the national media they are expected to set aside their allegiances.

The editor of this anthology of the secret passions of the press box, Michael Calvin of this parish, recalls being told by the managing editor of the first national newspaper to employ him: "I do not know the colour of your politics or your favourite football team. Ensure I remain ignorant of these facts".

Cheerfully breaking that rule, Calvin explains why he changed his allegiance from Watford to Millwall – possibly a unique decision. Martin Lipton has remained staunchly Spurs, but his striving to avoid bias once led to David Pleat, the club's director of football, shouting at him: "Lipton, you're supposed to be a Tottenham fan!"

Few journalists pursue their passion to the extent of becoming chairman of their club, as Ian Ridley did, but while he was not often called upon to cover matches at Weymouth, it proved a bittersweet experience. There's also a long-distance love affair with Montpellier while reporting on the Irish League, how Malcolm Crosby became the only manager to be sacked after a Pools Panel result, and why Rodney McAree, who had a mere 22 starts for Fulham, remains a club hero 15 years on.

Highly entertaining stuff, written from the heart.

Published in paperback by Integr8 Books, £10.99