Today's Runners And Writers: The Six Shortlisted For The William Hill Sports Book Of The Year

Click to follow
"IF YOU have read bad reviews of this book," goes the joke on the introductory page of Colin Shindler's book, "they will have been written by Manchester United fans. Bad word of mouth will have originated from the same source."

Colin Shindler's book is essentially his sporting autobiography, following his support of Manchester City and, to a lesser extent, Lancashire County Cricket Club.

The author grew up in Prestwich in a Jewish family and the book chronicles his love and enthusiasm for his team which is shared with a close group of friends who accompany him to matches. His love of cricket, meanwhile, is nurtured by his eccentric Uncle Laurence. Formative experiences shape the young Shindler; the Manchester derby of 1955, the Trautmann FA Cup final the following year, City winning the FA Cup final in 1968 only for United to capture the European Cup three weeks later.

Unfortunately, the undoubted excitement on the pitch does not transfer so well to the page. It has the feel of a memoir published by a pensioner who survived the Blitz, someone with an urge to tell their unique story. One can almost hear the conversation between the author and his publisher, reminding the 49-year-old screenwriter-turned- author to keep the writing informal as it is, after all, intended merely for football fans.

While not exactly dull, the book is not carefully written which could explain why transfer sums are "princely", Lancashire mills "satanic", blows "sickening" and errors "fatal".

On the positive side, it isn't entirely free of humour. There is a good joke on the opening page about the Manchester City defender Bobby Kennedy ("Why the hell would anyone shoot Bobby Kennedy?" I asked. "We've just won the league.") and a pertinent observation that the Royal Family fit the profile of out-of-town Manchester United fans: "They live nowhere near Manchester, they know nothing about football, they've never been to Old Trafford, but they go to the Cup final."