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Book of Football Records
(Boxtree Publishing, 2009)

Reviewed by Chris Goodwin 
28 January 2010

Released October 2009

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 adorable....

...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
To buy: Tesco