International Soccer Network

"Your Source for the Beautiful Game"

The Little Book of Gaelic Football (Review)

Cover Art Courtesy of the History Press

I have to be honest that my knowledge of Gaelic football was pretty limited until I stumbled upon the Skylight Financial Group NACB Gaelic Games this summer in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio.  What I found was an exciting sport, one that provided a very unique experience for the spectators.

I sought out The Little Book of Gaelic Football by Andy Watters and Neil Loughran to learn more.  It turned out to be much more than just a little book, but rather a definitive guide to the game.  The sport’s history, important players, notable teams, even stadiums are discussed in enough detail to wet the appetite.

I gained an understanding and appreciation for the game thanks to this “little book.” It’s well worth the small investment to make the purchase.  Maybe you will have the same experience.  It’s certainly a strong possibility thanks to a book that is clear, concise, and above all entertaining and informative.

The Origins of Wolverhampton Wanderers (Review)

I happen to love history and English football.  So Patrick A. Quirke’s The Origins of Wolverhampton Wanderers is the ultimate read.  It is a fascinating tale of how a few people made a big difference in a club, growing it from humble beginnings to eventually playing among England’s best.

Cover Art Courtesy of Amberley Publishing

Strong characters appear again and again in the book, but none stronger than John Brant Brodie.  He should be given credit as one of the great founding fathers of the English game, but he doesn’t get that much publicity.  He was an incredible player, administrator, referee, and educator yet many people don’t even know his name.  He was good at everything he did; he just didn’t get all the credit he deserved.

It was great to hear the history of Molineux and how the club and stadium became what it is today, but one things is for certain. There wouldn’t be a Wolves without Brodie.

This book talks about Wolves in its formative years, a time that put a great club and English football in motion.  If you love the English game, you’ll certainly enjoy this title.  The lesson is that great things, even playing in the EPL, can come from talent, passion, family, and community come together for a common cause.

Sir Alex Ferguson: Fifty Defining Fixtures (Review)

Sir Alex Ferguson is one of the great minds of the modern game.  He has done so much for the sport, impacting game after game.  He makes headlines even in retirement.

Cover Art Courtesy of Amberley Publishing

So how do you pick his 50 best games, the most defining moments in his career as a player and manager? This seems to be a question that would bring much debate or a great book, the latter being Sir Alex Ferguson: Fifty Defining Fixtures by Iain McCartney.

McCartney has developed a reputation as a Manchester United expert, creating excellent soccer titles along the way.  One of the first was a masterpiece called Manchester United: Rising from the Wreckage 1958-68, a great tale of tragedy and triumph.

Now McCartney has done it again with this title.  No, it’s not just another Sir Alex title.  There are many of those.

This title breaks down 50 great games that made Sir Alex the legend he is today.   There are so many to choose from, but McCartney has plenty of content to back up his selections.  He carefully details Ferguson’s evolution as a coach, how a good player became the world’s greatest manager.

This is certainly something every Man U supporter should own.           

FUBA Tactical Football Game (Review)

You’re right.  FIFA 14 and Football Manager 14 are great ways to enjoy the beautiful game.  But there are other ways to be part of the action.

FUBA Tactical Football Game is the latest in a line of brilliant soccer board games. It is destined to be one of the classics like Subbuteo and Soccero.  It has a throwback feel and intelligent gameplay, a place to show off your knowledge of tactics.

It allows you to choose a formation and make decisions on the fly, resulting in a fun and realistic experience.  It’s like being the manager on the sideline, right in your own home.  It’s a different and great way to experience the beautiful game.

We reached out to Hannu Uusitalo from UP Games to gain some perspective on the game and his inspiration for creating FUBA.

1.  Where did you come up with the idea for FUBA? How did you decide on a name?

In 2008 we were watching the Euros and we got an idea of a game which would simulate a soccer match from a tactical view. Initially we planned the game only for our own board game group, just to have a game we like to play. Later Kim joined our gaming group and made a visual layout for the game. After that we decided to make a print.

Initially the name for the game was “Futispeli,” which is the Finnish nickname for a soccer match. Because it means the real soccer, we ended up trying to find a better name. We had several ideas and asked players’ opinions from several countries. Most people voted for FUBA and thus we chose it.

2.  What is the game’s biggest strength?

It is probably the game mechanic, which is fast paced, but offers all kinds of interesting events in a soccer match. We have tried to balance the game length and odds to get enough variety to game results, but also keep goals and cards to realistic numbers. Also one headstone in design was that the situations in the game board would look like situations in real soccer.

3.  Are the FUBA creators big football fans?

Jaakko is the one who knows everything about soccer. Others of us like to watch, especially Euros and World Cups, but are otherwise not big fans.

4.  Are you familiar with other soccer games?

We have played Subbuteo couple of times, but the main reason why we started to develop FUBA was that we did not find any similar soccer games.

5.  What other projects are you working on?

For FUBA we are planning an expansion, probably a book, which contains more detailed tactics and rules. The idea is not to make the game longer and more detailed, but offer different kinds of optional rules. Players can then choose which rules they want to use and customize their match or tournament. For example, we can have optional rules to reduce playing time to 30 minutes or detailed rules which brings substitutions and injuries to the game.

We have also several projects and ideas for war games, but we have no plans or timetable for publishing the next games. We do not want to quickly publish rubbish only for money. We want develop games we like to play ourselves. After we have a game which we enjoy, there is also chance that someone else might like it.

6.  What should we know about the FUBA development team? 

I am the game’s designer, but also work as a structural engineer. Kim Paqvalin, who is in charge of graphics, has over 20 year experience of graphic design. Jaakko Uusitupa, our football adviser, works as a property analyst.

Facebook Photo Gallery

This game is a big deal. They expect to have a championship held in Finland this year, but could hold a larger event elsewhere in Europe in 2015.

Overall we highly recommend this game even though we love FIFA and Pro Evo as much as anyone else.  This is something different and unique, a great option for any soccer fan.  You can’t go wrong with this one.

Gordon Banks: A Biography (Review)

Gordon Banks is one of my favorite players from the glory days of the NASL in America.  Yes, there was Pelé, Best, Cruyff, Beckenbauer, and Chinaglia.  But there was also Banks, who stood out as a classy steward of the game, a player who cared on and off the field.  He was and still is the epitome of what the beautiful game is all about: skill, passion, determination, and hard work.

Cover Art Courtesy of Amberley Publishing

Simply put, Banks reminds us of better times, of a golden age of football.  It also reminds us of a player that went on a football journey, one that finished as a world-class player and perhaps the best goalkeeper in England’s history.  Put it this way, he wouldn’t have let that goal slip by against the U.S. in the 2010 World Cup as Robert Green did.

Gordon Banks: A Biography by Jim Morris is an instant classic, a great read for any football fan. Morris captures what Banks was all about, tracing the steps from humble beginnings to greatness, from making big plays at the schoolyard to landing perhaps the greatest save in World Cup history.

And all of this comes from the unlikeliest of places, an author that is a psychiatric nurse by trade.  Surprisingly enough this is only his fourth book and his first football title, but you would never realize that from reading this incredible title.

This book does Banks justice and that is probably the biggest compliment you could give.