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40 Years of Shite: The Complete and Utter Awfulness of the England Football Team Since 1966
(Atlantic Books, 2009)

Reviewed by Chris Goodwin
29 January 2010

Released June 2008

also known as The Unofficial Story of The Three Lions since 1966... in a bid to resell itself before the 2010 World Cup Finals

The first thing the strikes you regarding this book is, and you have to admit this, is it's title.  Anything with 'Shite' in its title just has to be picked up.  An audacious attempt at putting the complexities of media reports into one book and then coming up with the conclusion that England quite frankly, are shit!

On a positive side, this book records every non-friendly that has been played since 1966, including British Championship matches.  With a run down on all the players used.  Very useful summarisation.  The photographs are magnificent and in a class of their own.

The one negative point is that is all very opinionated, which I suppose you can either agree with or you do not.  Although the author remains nameless through the entire book, we can surmise from his acknowledgements that he does have 25 years journalist and interviewing experience - so you would expect that this guy knows what he is talking about.  And although it all remains a very good read, it is all just an opinion.  Everyone can guess why we have not repeated the success of '66, but were England shit in Italia '90, just because we did not win the World Cup.  Again, were England awful just because we did not win the European Championships on home soil in 1996, or were the opposition just lucky.

At the end of the proverbial day.  England have been outstanding, a lot better than what we were in '66.  And yes, we have been awful, especially in the 1994 World Cup qualifying campaign.  But re-iterating that all the world's problems were caused by Graham Taylor is just hiding behind the headlines once more.

It is an interesting side-note to point out which players were not at the Finals... but is it necessary to point out those who were there that should not have been?  Alas, we refer to the 2006 gamble of Theo Walcott... an outstanding player, and if Sven's gamble had worked, Sven and Theo would have been heroes.  Was Vicente Feola, the Brazilian manager, given such short thrift at the 1958 World Cup Finals in Sweden, when he picked the inexperienced Pelé - somehow, I don't think so.  The author quite clearly does not like Garry Birtles, or any Nottingham Forest player for that matter, Steve Stone, Neil Webb... But that is just my argument and therefore, my opinion.

Returning to a concluding positive point... he does state this website as a source, alongside Glen Isherwood's Wembley Finals book.

Packed with stats and punditry, and lavishly illustrated, "Three Lions" profiles every England squad to have taken part in every major tournament since the 1966 glory days. It lists each player to have worn the three lions for England and the managers who took charge of our World Cup and European Championship teams.  For every Lineker, Hoddle and Rooney, it reminds us of those players whose inclusion (or exclusion) in the squad baffled everyone. It reveals 'The People's Managers' (men like Clough or Shankly who, despite their achievements, were never offered the job), names our one-cap wonders and our deadliest opponents, and proposes the all-time England dream team (capable of winning every World Cup, every time). And along the way it takes in some spectacularly dodgy haircuts and distinctly short shorts.  Three cheers for "Three Lions", a must-have book for England fans everywhere. -  Amazon.co,uk synopsis

To buy:  Amazon