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Floodlit Dreams: How to Save a Football Club - Ian Ridley

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Genre: Sports / Hobbies / Games / Author: Ian Ridley / Paperback / 352 Pages / Book is published 2006-08-21 by Simon & Schuster Ltd

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      14.06.2010 21:30
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      A run of the mill account of life in the lower leagues

      I used to really enjoy reading Ian Ridley´s columns in the Guardian newspaper as a ghost writer for many footballers he was entertaining and irreverent, then he moved to the Daily Mail and got serious.

      This book is available for 40p on Amazon, which frustrates me as I paid a fiver a few years ago. It is 352 pages long and was released in 2006.

      The book follows the journalist Ian Ridley as he decides he wants to save his local football club, non-league Weymouth, he uses his football contacts to set up fundays and fund raising events and also manages to snare the recently retired Steve Claridge, a journeyman footballer whose biography Ridley successfully penned.

      The book follows Ridley as he realises running and saving a football club isn´t quite as fun as it would seem, even a club you were born and raised to support.

      We follow Ridley as he tries his damndest to improve facilities, talks about the problems he experiences with a Manager used to much better facilities and players and players whose demands far exceed the sum of their talents.

      The book is very interesting in parts and quite honest, we all dream of running our local club but this turns into something of a nightmare for Ridley when things don´t go as planned.

      The book is much like the books of authors heading to the South of France and realising what a different world it is, Ridley does spend a lot of time building himself up as some kind of Messiah and you don´t feel sorry for him when things fail, you realise that he was possibly overconfident and perhaps arrogant in his own abilities.

      I had hoped this book would be funnier, more entertaining and offer more from a football perspective, but it really is a fish out of water story that covers the dull day to day running of a football club with the encompassing disputes and problems.

      Ridley was brave to take on the experience but part of me does feel that it was taken on with the realisation that he would write a book about it so in some respects thats a shame.

      The book is a 3 out of 5 its entertaining in parts and worth a read, but its not memorable and not something I would refer to or return to in the future.

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      08.04.2010 11:11
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      Only for the true football anoraks amongst us

      Floodlit dreams is a book written by the Mail on Sunday's chief football reporter Ian Ridley about his time as chairman of Weymouth Town for the 2003-2004. Ridley took over his home town team when they were in dire financial strife after just surviving relegation from the Premier Division of the Southern league. He took over with the club almost bankrupt, a crumbling stadium and a poor side, he then employed Steve Claridge and the following season they finished second.

      This is a book about the finances and running of a 'relatively' large non-league club set in a wealthy part of the country but only getting between 1000 and 2000 spectators for home games. Ridley at the end of the season overseas the sale of the club to a local businessman called Harrison, Harrison soon forces his resignation and soon afterwards sacks Claridge (I don't think I'm giving too much away as you can read all about it on Wikipedia etc) so you have to read this book with a grain of scepticism as the viewpoint is clearly Ridley's and his side of the story.

      So onwards with the book, the book is split into chapters based around the events on the pitch with the first being an account of pre-season and how Ridley finds himself as chairman. He soon discovers the state of the clubs books and sets up a team including his sister and two friends at trying to make the club more viable. He is open about the nepotism shown and that his sister is doing a fine job, even though she is pulling in a full salary. This fact is exploited by the people who buy the club as a reason for getting rid of Ridley as chairman, and here of course we only get one half of the story.

      The book moves on to the season in which Steve Claridge takes over and relative to Weymouth's league position spends a lot of money in new players, one thing I never realised about non-league football is that clubs don't budget for buying players but the budget is set by the weekly wage bill (perhaps Portsmouth should have taken notice).

      This is a book for the true football anorak, in a way it's interesting because it shows football at the grass roots level but it reveals that football at whatever level has the same issues, a desire for money, a need to convert turnover into better players and no matter what happens off the field a good result always makes things feel better.

      So this book shows us the nuts and bolts of lower league football but it reveals that passion for football isn't the ownership of premiership or even football league teams supporters but extends down to teams playing in the lower reaches of the football pyramid.

      It also shows the problems in running a business which will instinctively lose money, fans always want better teams and better players and sometimes that drive pushes a club into spending way too much money.

      This book shows us the seeds of that way of 'living the dream' and by the end we are left with a feeling that the club is heading for problems because it's clear that the club has moved into the hands of people who perhaps have less passion for the club than other fans. Again we can see a lower league echo of bigger clubs on the football pyramid, and this has been shown to be the case with the club recently liquidated in all but name after successive relegations.

      This is an interesting book but I suspect it's only for football fans and those with an interest in how football survives in this country away from the bright lights of the Premiership.

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