Football Memories, by Brian Glanville

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The Independent Online

A football reporter came into the bar in some long-forgotten hotel, looked up at the ceiling in exaggerated bafflement and said: "What the hell does pusillanimous mean?" We knew at once he must have been speaking to the only one of our number who would drop such a word (perhaps his favourite) into everyday conversation: Brian Glanville.

A football reporter came into the bar in some long-forgotten hotel, looked up at the ceiling in exaggerated bafflement and said: "What the hell does pusillanimous mean?" We knew at once he must have been speaking to the only one of our number who would drop such a word (perhaps his favourite) into everyday conversation: Brian Glanville.

Those of us who over decades have admired his writing, his knowledge of football and of many other subjects, his passion for the game on all levels from his Chelsea Casuals to the Brazilians of Pele's era, and occasionally suffered his well-meaning rebukes, can now share the delights and eccentricities of theLife of Brian in this autobiography

Glanville has valuably exposed those who would do damage to the game and at the same time, with equal perception, written the most analytical match reports. He probably never wanted to be a Geoffrey Green, who coloured his pieces in The Times with vivid imagination. Glanville informs and evaluates. The reader is not entertained as a priority. Green rarely criticised. Glanville's pen is altogether sharper.

His autobiography is an absorbing ramble through more than half a century of an intense affair with a sport that too often does not deserve to be loved. It also gives an insight into his other talents as an author of novels, plays and television scripts (he was a contributor to That Was The Week That Was).

After Charterhouse, he worked as an articled clerk but hated it and, with typical confidence, walked into the Rome office of Corriere dello Sport and talked himself into becoming their correspondent in England.

However, it was at The Sunday Times that, with Keith Botsford, he led the way in investigative sports journalism by exposing the attempted bribery of referees in European competition. Glanville cannot abide officials who put themselves before the interests of the game. Long may they be stung by his second favourite word: "ineffable".

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