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The Accidental Footballer by Pat Nevin review – a heroic outsider

The charismatic Glasgow-born winger and indie music obsessive recalls his passions, and life in football before the riches arrived

In the 1980s, Pat Nevin was referred to as a “weirdo” by his teammates at Chelsea. Slight, good-looking and fond of wearing a leather jacket and ripped jeans, he was sometimes mistaken for Johnny Marr. His favourite writer was Albert Camus and he read Anton Chekhov on match-day coaches up to Newcastle. He was a mesmerising winger, but when an NME journalist described him as “the first post-punk footballer”, it was the word “footballer” against which he chafed; he saw the game as an activity rather than an identity. In In Ma Head, Son! (1997), a book-length collaboration with psychologist George Sik he published towards the end of his career, he worried about becoming an ex-player: “It’s a bit like people who continually go on about the war. They can’t stop talking about it. It was their finest hour.”

Those who tell you it was down to Sky TV and the Premier League for changing the atmosphere are way off the mark

Continue reading...


Brown Baby by Nikesh Shukla review – a memoir of race and family

Addressed to Shukla’s young mixed-race daughter, these reflections – with rage and humour – consi...

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A Burning by Megha Majumdar review – a brilliant debut

A young Muslim woman in Kolkata is accused of a terrorist outrage, in a thriller about poverty and s...

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How We Met by Huma Qureshi review – what makes a good marriage?

A gentle memoir by a romantic journalist, who recounts what happened when, seeking to honour her fat...

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Girls Against God by Jenny Hval review – a call to revolution

The Norwegian musician rebels against blandness and convention in a novel that veers from melodramat...

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Hey Hi Hello by Annie Nightingale review – five decades of pop gusto

Britain’s first female DJ, who never became one of ‘them’, recalls a career that has spanned the ...

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The Housing Lark: Sam Selvon's strikingly relevant, lesser-known classic

Greenhorns, hustlers and dope dealers banter and bicker in this 1960s novel following migrants in Lo...

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