When I was a kid, week after week, more
faithfully than going to church on a Sunday, my religion was my
football. Every Saturday, my faith would be diminishing, every
Wednesday, it would be wonderfully restored when my Match Weekly would
drop on the doorstep... I would flick through the pages, looking for the
MatchFacts. And ponder it, study it, and wonder, did my team
really deserve to lose last weekend? it usually revealed such. So
I would commiserate myself with the rest of the weekly bible.
As time went by, as I got older, as my hair
got shorter - Match Weekly became less of a religious issue, and more
like an OK! magazine with words. It no longer appealed to the
statistician. It no longer appealed to my inner sense of wanton
knowledge. It became a fashion weekly, it became a 'boy's magazine'.
It no longer supplied me with the essential information of transfers,
star men or the essential fixtures and tables. It became a Wags
Mag. Footballers no longer needed stalkers, because all that the
stalker wanted, was right here, costing 70 pence a week!
Nothing ever replaced Match Weekly.
Of course, there were the also-rans - I name Shoot! as one such passion.
It had its own unique style, but my camp was firmly set up in the Match
stall. In fact, I think I only ever bought Shoot at the beginning
of every season for the League Ladders.... the cardboard ones, not the
crappy paper ones... the ones when you wished the league tables would
remain the same week-in, week-out, simply because the paper teams would
take being moved up or down....
So there you have it. My faith in
Match lasted for my childhood... I did not grow out of it - it grew out
of me. So in 1989, I never bought a Match Weekly again (I was
17!). Every so often, I would come across the heathen magazine, in
the odd dentist waiting room, and every time, without fail, it would
disappoint. Even the odd descent photograph would be spoiled by
some indecent caption.... wrong, so very wrong.
So I came across the Match! Football Book
of Records. I remember it well. End of the isle in WHSmith.
I dared to pick it up. On what basis? Not the £20 price tag, but
because it said 'The Only Football Fact Book You'll Ever Need!'.
And I set my sights on proving this wrong. But it was I that was
wrong...because it is in fact, very good. Check out the Index at
the back...it really covers that much. Starting with the Premier
League and other domestic competitions. Onto every known fact in
the Champions League, World Cup and European Championships. Before
delving into a club-by-club documentary. An updated Club Stats
section, and a refreshing Club History.
The one major fact that makes this book
so good, is not because it is propped up by Match! I believe they
are nothing more than a sponsor. It's the two small words that is
lost in the 'credits' page. 'Cris Freddi'. And those two
words turn this ordinary letter into a glorious bible. Because now
all of a sudden, these facts are viable and trustworthy. £20 is
just a snip now because knowledge is priceless. This is now just
...there is no happy-ending. I had
hoped Match Weekly would return to its former glory, but it was only
ever a name on this book!
From the UK's most popular football
magazine comes the definitive book of football records, presented with
all of the action-packed photographs and humour that Match readers
know and love. From record transfers to top goalscorers, biggest
attendances, fastest goals and most trophies won, The Big Match Book
of Records is a one-stop celebration of the biggest and best from the
football archives. Features on World Cups, FA Cups and every
Premiership club are joined by records from the big foreign leagues
(Italy and Spain), the four home nations and the greatest stars to
have played the game. Beautifully produced and bursting with colour,
this is a book that will delight any young fan of the game this
Christmas. - Amazon.co.uk synopsis
To buy: Amazon