BOOK RE­VIEW

Birmingham Post - - SPORT -

Foot­ball, as ev­ery­one knows, was in­vented in 1992 when satel­lite tele­vi­sion’s des­per­ate need for ‘killer con­tent’ cre­ated a sport­ing Klondike that would at­tract a lengthy col­lec­tion of un­savoury char­ac­ters ea­ger to grab their share of the game’s new­found wealth.

Of course, ever since spec­ta­tors be­gan pay­ing to at­tend matches more than a cen­tury ear­lier, foot­ball has of­fered a safe har­bour to chancers, shys­ters and match­fix­ers, but post-1992, as broad­cast­ers man­aged to per­suade mil­lions of peo­ple to pay to watch the self-styled ‘most ex­cit­ing league in the world’ on TV, clubs be­came le­git­i­mate tar­gets for those seek­ing to turn a quick buck.

Money, much of it bor­rowed or ac­quired un­der ques­tion­able cir­cum­stances, has so com­pletely per­me­ated the beau­ti­ful game that it now de­ter­mines how games are played, cam­paigns planned and man­agers’ per­for­mance gauged.

Sur­ren­der­ing a top-flight berth is deemed a fi­nan­cial dis­as­ter, but as Burn­ley have shown, it’s still pos­si­ble to re­turn to Eng­land’s elite divi­sion (they’ve done it three times) with­out tout­ing prospec­tive new own­ers, in­vari­ably for­eign ‘bil­lion­aires’ with a his­tory of money laun­der­ing.

From Ori­ent To The Emi­rates tells the tale of Burn­ley’s in­spi­ra­tional, never-say-die re­cov­ery from the cusp of obliv­ion (a fi­nal match of the 1986-87 sea­son against Ori­ent) to once more com­pet­ing against the top flight’s big guns.

To call the in­ter­ven­ing 30-year jour­ney a ‘roller-coaster’ is an un­der­state­ment, but to con­vey what it has meant to those as­so­ci­ated with, or sup­port­ing the Clarets, au­thor Tim Quelch mixes his story with an abun­dance of com­ments from fans, play­ers, news­pa­per re­ports and other con­tem­po­ra­ne­ous ac­counts.

It’s an up­lift­ing for­mula trac­ing the pe­riod from Burn­ley’s un­likely sur­vival to their re­nais­sance and sta­tus as many folks’ favourite ‘other’ team.

The sur­vive and pros­per theme is most apt as Mr Quelch is do­nat­ing all of the book’s roy­al­ties to Prostate Cancer UK.

Great story. Great cause. Treat your­self to a taste of real foot­ball life.

We’ve teamed up with www. sports­bookofthe­month.com and have a copy of From Ori­ent to the Emi­rates to give away. To win, visit www.sports­bookofthe­month.com and an­swer the fol­low­ing ques­tion:

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