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Balls.ie's Alternative Top 5 Sports Books Of The Year

Balls.ie's Alternative Top 5 Sports Books Of The Year
By Mark Farrelly
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The rules for the first annual Balls.ie Alternative Sports Books Of The Year Awards are simple:

The book doesn't have to have been released within the last 12 months, we just need to have read it during that period. And by 'read it', I mean 'read all, part or even just one paragraph of it'.

So are you ready folks? Hope you're wearing a tuxedo while reading this, the most prestigious of awards:..

5. Peter Ridsdale's United We Fall: Boardroom Truths About The Beautiful Game

The revelations:

'Jonathan [Woodgate] is a world-class defender but could never be described as a mastermind. He had been told to look after his own passport and 'to keep it somewhere safe.

'On one European trip the players were asked for their passports. Jonathan hadn't brought it with him. ''Where is it?'' I asked him. ''You told me to put it somewhere safe so I did. It's in the safe at home.'''


4. Neil Warnock's The Gaffer

The revelations:

3. Owen Mulligan's Mugsy: My Story

The revelations:

'From the moment HUB bought me my first drink in a pub in Dromore, a vodka and lucozade which didn't taste great, I've never looked back.'


2. Harry Redknapp's Always Managing: My Autobiography



Image: Barry Glendenning


The revelations:

''One day at Millwall he [Paul Merson] came into the dressing room with a big, brown bag full of readies. ‘Would you look after this for me, gaffer?’ he asked.

‘It’s 30 grand. It’s for a bookmaker, an Irish mob. They’re after me and I’ve got to meet them after the game. Will you look after it for me until then?

I couldn’t leave it in the changing room, but I almost always wear a suit on the touchline. That day I changed. I put a tracksuit on so there was more room to conceal these readies.

It was OK until I sprung out of my seat on the touchline. As I did, I felt something move.

As I was trying to get a message to the players I could feel Merson’s 30 grand making its way south along my trouser leg.

I looked down and the notes were coming out the bottom of my trousers.''

And also:

Harry talks about a 'friend' of his, Lee Topliss who was supposedly an Irish jockey. Harry had given ‘Lee’ tickets to games, money for taxis, nights out in restaurants and even £500 for him to travel to Dubai for a race.

''And then I got a phone call from Willie McKay, a football agent. ‘Do you still speak to Lee Topliss, Harry?’ asked Willie. ‘Yeah, I do,’ I said. ‘He’s always calling me, more losers than winners, mind you.’

‘Right,’ Willie continued. ‘Well, I think I know why his information isn’t so clever.’


‘He’s not Lee Topliss. He’s a potman at a boozer in Newmarket. He picks up glasses – he’s not a f****** jockey.’'

Three years he’d had me.

The best seat in the house, good restaurants, lifts here, there and everywhere – and heaven knows what in hand-outs.'


Harry's way of dealing with a fan who was giving them grief in a pre-season friendly:

''I had no other option. I turned round to big mouth.

‘You’ve got some old bunny,’ I said. ‘Can you play as good as you talk?’

‘I’m better than Chapman,’ he said. ‘Right,’ I said. ‘Get your gear on.’ He thought I was joking. ‘What do you mean?’ he said. ‘You’re playing for West Ham,’ I told him.

He came back, kitted up and stood on the touchline. ‘Where do you play?’ I asked. ‘Up front,’ he said.

‘Right,’ I said, ‘we’ll soon see if you’re better than Chapman.’ And on he went. Oxford’s announcer came down and wanted to know who the sub was. ‘Didn’t you watch the World Cup?’ I asked. ‘That’s Tittishev of Bulgaria. He scored three goals.’'

‘Oh yes,’ he said, nodding wisely. '‘I thought it was him.’'


1. Paul Parker's Tackles Like A Ferret


The revelations:

''Roy loved a drink in the early days, as we all did, and we looked forward to our sessions, after a match or in midweek if there was no match or training to worry about. They would be called bonding sessions in today’s pyschobabble, but we just enjoyed each other’s company and put away an awful lot of alcohol… But Roy, being the individualist he was, always insisted on walking home. As the rest of us piled into taxis or got lifts, Roy used to set off in the darkness on his own, spurning all offers. We never knew why, perhaps to walk himself sober, but it was a habit that was somehow typical of Roy. On one occasion we had been at Yesterday’s night club, and, at the end of the evening, Roy set off as usual (for) (sic) what must have been as much as seven miles to his home at Alderley Edge. Next day, Roy showed up for training at the Cliff with his face covered in scratches. He was a bit coy about the reason. Then the police showed up and chatted to Sir Alex before leaving, problem apparently sorted. Only then, did Roy reveal how on the way he’d had a fight with a German in some bushes. The German complained to police, but the matter did not develop and never became public. But that was Roy, abrasive, belligerent, competitive.''


Parker on playing for Graham Taylor's England...

Taylor liked to create a good team spirit by filling long evenings with mock casinos and karaoke sessions. Oven-ready chickens were the prize on one occasion, but I was not a gambler, no money ever changed hands, and I found most of what happened tedious and pointless. You had to enjoy your football to give your best and I did not enjoy being with England anymore and, while that might sound unfair or ungracious, playing for Manchester United was a full time occupation and we were treated by the management there with far greater respect. I know for a fact, without naming them, of players who feigned injury so that they did not have to join Taylor’s England party, and others arriving as late as they could while also pleading injuries.


So that's Christmas sorted...

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