'Tell Him He's Pele,' by Phil Shaw

Click to follow

"It's my birthday tomorrow, so obviously that was an early Christmas present from the lads," said Sam Allardyce as the Blackburn manager rejoiced in victory, thus ensuring himself an entry in Phil Shaw's latest collection of football quotes.

Sadly for Big Sam, Santa's sack also included the sack for him, but then he's a realist: "In my first six months as Notts County manager I had my name chalked on the door," he claimed in another entry.

As Christmas presents go there are worse choices than this; Shaw has been compiling quotes books since 1984, and has got the technique of blending old favourites with newer inanities down to a fine art. The title, incidentally, comes from the Partick manager John Lambie's response to being told that the striker Colin McGlashan was concussed and didn't know who he was: "Tell him he's Pele and get him back on."

Another book worthy of slipping into the festive stocking concentrates on what is happening on top of players' heads rather than inside them. Footballers' Haircuts 2: A New History (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, £6.99) reveals the often dire consequences of allowing young men with too much time and money on their hands to choose their own barber.

From Harry Kewell's Croydon Facelift to Alexi Lalas's Catweazle impersonation, here they all are in frighteningly sharp focus.

There's sharpness of a verbal kind in a gift offering for cricket fans, Why Are You So Fat? (Pocket Books, £9.99), a compilation of memorable sledges. There's not too much new here for those who have taken note of the on-pitch insults down the decades, but being reminded of them can be almost as much fun as hearing them for the first time. And the way the Ashes series is going, there'll be enough material for a new edition next year.

Published in paperback by Ebury Press, £8.99

Comments