Sport Book of the Week: The Worst of Friends by Colin Shindler

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The Independent Online

In his chronicle of the rise and fall of Manchester City from 1965-73 Colin Shindler takes a fictional approach, placing the relationship between the homely, affable manager, Joe Mercer, and his flamboyant, innovative No 2, Malcolm Allison, at the centre of proceedings.

Comparisons with David Peace's novel about Brian Clough's 44 days as manager of Leeds, 'The Damned Utd', are inevitable, but 'The Worst of Friends' holds its own; while it lacks the brooding intensity of Peace's book, it dramatises the central relationship vividly enough. In a curious mirror image, while Clough struggled at Leeds without Peter Taylor, his long-time No 2, Allison seemed all at sea after Mercer was forced out of City, despite having been desperate for years to take the helm. Shindler is an ardent City fan, and his inside knowledge of the club gives the words he puts into his characters' mouths a ring of truth.

This growing genre deserves a name – kick lit, perhaps, although given Allison's many affairs, maybe chick-and-kick lit would be even more apt.

Published in hardback by Mainstream, £17.99