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Book Review - The Premier League 25 Years

Friday 15th December 2017

It is 25 years since the self-proclaimed ‘greatest league in the world’ was formed. An anniversary that has sparked a series of book launches celebrating everything from greatest games, top ten goals, to best ever players. Pettiford’s ‘The Premier League 25 years’ takes a different approach, it looks at the good and bad of the Premier League from the perspective of those that make the competition what it is – The fans.

Title: The Premier League 25 Years

Author: Lloyd Pettiford

Publisher: Urbane Publications

Date Published: 2017

Price: £12.99

Whatever club you support the Premier League has changed English football forever. For better or worse 49 clubs have been touched by the experience and fans of every club contribute with their views, opinions and experiences. There are no boundaries or restrictions, anything goes. As a result, it goes way beyond statistics and match reports to free-flowing, deeper, emotive accounts. Ones that make for fascinating reading and reveal the publics true feelings towards England’s top division.

One thing is clear, the Premier League divides opinion. There are supporters of the one season wonders, clubs such as Swindon and Barnsley who just want to enjoy the ride, take in the world-class players and visit the iconic grounds. For them, it’s a party. Live the moment as you may not get to see it again. 

Others enjoy mid table security. Where previously average clubs can now attract the cream of world talent. They get a buzz out of a dramatic survival and the occasional beating of one of the big boys.

For every fan that loves the Premier League ride, there is one, maybe more that don’t. Fans recall the de-moralising feeling of getting thrashed week in week out. Some find the lack of completion boring, some the erasing of the achievements in the pre-Premier League days frustrating.

A common theme throughout the book is a feeling of disconnection between club and fan. The plastic stadiums and high ticket prices have watered down the match day experience. A detachment that has left many fans isolated from their clubs. Many feel that the explosion in cash has ruined the game and chasing the dream almost cost the existence of some clubs.

Every club, every fan has their story to tell and Pettiford has provided the platform for them to be heard. His book, as Pettiford him-self explains, is ‘A history written by the fans for the fans’.

What makes ‘The Premier League 25 years’ special is Pettiford’s unique style. Reading it feels like chatting with your mates down the pub. There is humour, bias and opinion. He makes no apology for his own allegiances and writes with honesty however controversial. He is a fan, speaking as a fan and engaging with the reader.

It is light-hearted yet thought-provoking. A perfect combination and a joy to read.

His book helps facilitate this approach with clearly structured chapters, unusual facts and great graphics. There is also a novel referencing to you-tube videos that adds an extra dimension to the book.

Back to the Premier League. As well as fans thoughts, as expected, all the big events are covered. We have Cantona’s kong fu, Keegan’s rant and Liverpool’s spice boys. There are Arsenals invincibles and Manchester City’s injury-time drama.

Then there was Leicester, whose success reignited the dream for many and that in essence is the beauty of the Premier League, in that just being part of the party is a realistic target for every club in the footballing pyramid. Five clubs that have been in the Premier League have also been close to non-league football. It can happen to anybody.

As one fan put it ‘There is a lot wrong with the Premier League but it is the place to be’. A statement you will come to appreciate after finishing Pettiford’s excellent ‘The Premier League 25 years’.

Allan Kemp

Born in Suffolk but a Norwich City supporter who is currently exiled in Dallas, US. I am an FA level 2 coach and also a published author, my book of Hall of fame - Norwich City's - All-Time Greats is available from all good bookshops. I am now working on my second book, with Pitch Publishing - Newcastle United Hall of Fame. I'm also a keen reader of football-related books.


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