Hammers book review: Thirty years of laughter, tears and no trophies

There is a new West Ham book on the market this week and it is no holds barred

MASTERMIND is really dumbing down lately. In recent times the programme has seen specialist subjects include Carry On Films, Jennifer Aniston and Alan Partridge, rather than Akira Kurosawa, Richard Burbage and Marconi.

So if you fancy your chances in the black chair and West Ham in the past 30 years is something you can specialise in, then ‘Bring Me The Head of Trevor Brooking’ is the perfect tome to do some cramming.

Authors Kirk Blows and Ben Sharratt start from the premise that West Ham haven’t won a major trophy since Brooking headed the Hammers to FA Cup victory in 1980.

If you can forget the Intertoto Cup in 1999, then certainly the last 30 years have been a rollercoaster ride of highs, lows and even lowers and it is all portrayed in these pages.

Much of it will be familiar to West Ham fans. The rise and fall of Eggert Magnusson; the Tevez/Mascherano period; Gianfranco Zola’s battle with David Sullivan.

It is all included and interesting to step back from what you remember of those recent events and look at the overview from the authors – it makes for riveting and cringeworthy reading.

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Perhaps where the book scores most of all though is in the less familiar stories from further in the past.

It corrects one or two tales that have passed into West Ham folklore, with Marco Boogers, Paul Ince and Lou Macari all having their Hammers’ stories amended.

It also brings back distant memories of the trouble and death in Castilla which forced West Ham to play a European game behind closed doors; the joy of a 10-0 win over Bury in the Milk Cup and buying their centre half the following week; and of that devastating 6-0 thrashing in the Littlewoods Cup semi-final on the Oldham plastic.

So many memories and all in easy-to-read bitesize chunks, you can delve into the book wherever you want and the stories of joy and despair come flooding out.

The book is not perfect. It is not chronological, nor does it go from high to low. Rather it is a hotchpotch of memories plucked from all over the West Ham landscape which can make for confusion and a lack of fluidity in the book.

But all in all it is a must-read for all West Ham fans as well as those budding Mastermind contestants.

The book is out tomorrow (Thursday) and is available from all local bookshops and online at Amazon.co.uk.

(See Next week’s newspaper to win a copy of the book)