Posted in Books

Book Review: Football-Bloody Hell! The Biography of Sir Alex Ferguson, by Patrick Barclay

A friend once told me that happiness is the noble practice of discussing sport. Knowing how often I discuss sport, football in particular, with him, I couldn’t help but agree. It was he who gifted me this book, the first and only sports biography on my shelf.

I have been following the English football club Manchester United since the late 90s. Though I was not a passionate football historian then, my love for the club did eventually bring me to read up as much as I could about its history. That knowledge is still quite incomplete, but one thing most fans of the club would agree on is that the club’s history had a big turning point when Alex Ferguson took over as manager of the club in 1986. Over the course of his 27 years at the club, the Scotsman would lead Manchester United to nearly 40 trophies. This book, written by Scottish sportswriter Patrick Barclay, brings more detail to Sir Alex’s life, from the Govan childhood, to his managerial days with Aberdeen, the treble winning season and till the season that United won its nineteenth English crown.

I think the title is apt. “Football, bloody hell” is what he told when United completed perhaps its most famous victory, the 1999 Champions League title. That has been quoted quite often since then, even after his retirement. What I liked in the biography is that it is quite detailed, something, I am told, is lacking in other biographies. I enjoyed the journey through the book, but I feel, for a very passionate fan of the club, this won’t feel like something new. Rather, it would be more like a trip down memory lane, one that they would savor. The color panels for the photographs are also a delight, and seeing those in particular from both the 1999 Champions League final and the 2008 Champions League final made me smile. There are other nuances, like Sir Alex’s managerial battles with United’s current manager Jose Mourinho or former Liverpool and Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez, which felt familiar too. Overall, the book is a delight. The aspect I felt lacking was emotion. I think, as a fan, seeing that goal from Ole Solskjaer hit the roof of the net, or John Terry missing that crucial penalty, brought out emotions (and seeing those videos still does). The writing felt more to the point without going emotional. I felt it would have been much better to read had it managed to bring out some of those emotions.

This has become a book I treasure, not just as a gift but for its content, and I’m certain to peruse often.

A Score Of 9 Out Of 10
Book Details
Title: Football-Bloody Hell! The Biography of Sir Alex Ferguson
Author(s): Patrick Barclay Genre: Sports Biography
ISBN/ASIN: 9780224083072 Publisher: Yellow Jersey Press

No payment was taken for this review. The views expressed here are mine, and they remain uninfluenced and unbiased.

(© Vinay Leo R. @ A Bookworm’s Musing
9th August 2017)



Poetry and writing are to me, a breath of fresh air in a life that is sometimes covered by the smoke of sorrow or self doubt. They also become the sweets I share to celebrate when life offers me a reason to. But most of all, they are to me, my life. For each word I write is a piece of my heart, a thought that just had to find its way into the world.

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