The Last Champions

The Last Champions
The Last Champions

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Review round-up

"In just three and a half seasons, following almost a decade in the wilderness, Wilkinson transformed a relegation-threatened second-level side into League winners. The sheer size of the achievement has finally been given the recognition it deserves in The Last Champions. Amid the usual revelations that are commonplace to all contemporary football biographies, Simpson’s story captures the pathos of the many players who narrowly missed out on the Premier League cash cow. While some leading lights from the squad forged lucrative post-retirement careers, such as Eric Cantona, Jones and Kamara, many of the title-winners are still holding down ordinary jobs to pay the bills. Former striker Carl Shutt works as a travel agent and towering centre-half John McClelland provides regular tours of Elland Road when not working as a postman. McClelland best sums up the sheer magnitude of the team’s achievement, which he likens to “climbing Everest”. To put it into context, imagine Southampton winning the Premier League title in 2013-14. That is what Wilkinson and his players achieved and it is what makes this story so special and worthy of Simpson’s insightful homage." - WHEN SATURDAY COMES

"Busts the Cantona myth and breaks the mould in exploring team building. The Last Champions is a welcome reclamation of [Howard] Wilkinson’s success, however transient it proved to be. Perhaps the narratives produced in the dominance of a small clique of hyper-rich clubs with superstar players provide intrigue for global television audiences, with their ceaseless stories of revenge, but the triumphs of teams like Wilkinson’s offered interest for fans of provincial teams without stars, suggesting that well-organised units could succeed without the kind of money that later came into English football from Sky TV and then the US, Russia and the Middle East. As Simpson so wistfully explains, we shall probably never see their like again" - NEW STATESMAN

"Already a seasoned tracker of northern burnouts - his The Fallen sought out every former employee of Mark E. Smith - Leeds fan Simpson is ideally qualified to track down everyone involved with the last team to win the old First Division Championship, before its "rebranding" as the Premiership. At times it's unbearably poignant - the recent suicide victim Gary Speed comes across, as he always did, as balanced and thoughtful, while at least two team-mates nearly went the same way. But there's humour too. Vinnie Jones giving way his theatrical leanings by turning up to training in wild outfits; the author's messy cocktail with Lee Chapman. It couldn't last. Manager Howard Wilkinson already had these men playing at their limits. But Simpson neatly captures football's key appeal, the way it can restore the simple certainties of childhood. These men are now postmen, pensioners, disabled, successful, travel agents and the seemingly lost (including "mad as cheese" midfielder David Batty). But they talk with equal wonder about their greatest season" - THE WORD

"Quality interviews, a fund of anecdotes... An illuminating portrait of an era that already seems as distant as the 1970s" - BACKPASS

"Highly recommended" - YORKSHIRE EVENING POST 

"Fascinating story" - YORKSHIRE RADIO

"A really, really good read" - RADIO LEEDS

"Excellent book" - YORKSHIRE POST 

"This excellent book evokes what increasingly seems like a golden age" - CHOICE 

"A fantastic book about Leeds United and that era, beautifully written detective work" - MARTIN KELNER, RADIO LEEDS

"Great memories of players who played with pride and passion, the last ordinary people to win the league before the Premier League brought astronomical salaries and billionaire foreign owners" - JAKE KATBORG, RADIO LEEDS

"Will appeal to loads of Leeds United fans and those who are just nosy to know about that particular era of football" - RADIO YORK

"Really enjoyed the book - it's a great read" - LEE CHAPMAN, LEEDS UNITED League Championship winner, 1991-92

"A great read" - TONY DORIGO, LEEDS UNITES League Championship winner, 1991-92 

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Link to Radio Leeds 2012-13 season preview

Really enjoyed appearing on Katherine Hannah's hour-long special along with young LUFC fan Josh Westerman and the impressive Gary Cooper from Leeds United Supporters Trust, who gave us the latest on the potential takeover.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Event at Ilkley Literature Festival

Sunday, September 30th, 2012, 3:00 pm at 

45. The Last Champions: Dave Simpson


Guardian journalist Dave Simpson discusses his revelatory exploration of Leeds United and the glory years of the 1990s. After 1992, he argues, football changed beyond all recognition as the Premier League saw sky-rocketing wages and billionaire owners and the dictates of television took the game away from the fans. Today Simpson reveals the secrets of the inner sanctum that delivered that extraordinary title and explores whether football is now so disenfranchised from supporters that it has lost its soul.

Cost: £5/4
Category: Sporting Words |