Book Review: ‘These Charming Men’ by Howard Hockin

Friend of Typical City Howard Hockin has released his end of season book which can be bought from disreputable tax dodging book seller Amazon here. Following below are some thoughts on the book itself…

This book collects Howard’s match reports and other writings from throughout the season in one easy bundle. The writing is often funny and always smart, taking the reader from the sacking of Mancini through a slightly ropey start to life under Pellegrini to, in the end, a second title win in three years for the mighty Blues.

The main strength of a chronological book like this comes with the recognising the ups and down of the season, tallying up your own memories with those belonging to someone else. The changing attitudes towards players and towards Pellegrini. Remembering early uncertainty about the Toure/Fernandinho axis, about Pellegrini’s tactical nous, about the perhaps fragile mentality in City’s defence. The moments of sadness, of being convinced we’d bottled every trophy going. The fall and rise of Joe hart. The fall and fall of Manchester United. The eternal question: Where is Stevan Jovetic?

This Charming Man

The author’s observations of these events are preserved unchanged as they were originally written over the season, allowing the reader to live through it all again, for better or worse. The main body of the book is match reports, but the sidetracks into off the pitch matters such as fan forums and the CityLive event are just as enlightening. The information gleaned from them will interest all City fans.

Unusually for a book like this, our own fan base gets a bit of an extended, but fond, beating. Hockin’s healthy sense of exasperation, sometimes bordering on despair, towards a certain type of City fan is hugely amusing. You know the type; the sort of fan who’s bed has two wrong sides, and all their life is grouse. The type who have 280,000 posts on the Bluemoon forums. The idiosyncrasies of the fan base are laid bare through the medium of gently poked fun.

Newspaper journalists are a particularly well beaten target for Hockin and his favourite targets come out of this book rather badly. Nothing exposes an agenda like seeing quotes from a journalist which belabour the same point week in week out against all available evidence. In our modern world of instant twitter (over)reaction it is unfortunately easy to forget what nonsense a journalist said last week or last month. No chance here as the hits just keep on coming.

This is a well written book, worth both your time and your money. It’s the price of a pint and will last a lot longer. Reminiscing is so much more fun at the end of a successful season. The many joys, occasional lows, and the regular forays into the absurd which come as part and parcel of being a City fan; all are in here, written with wit and good humour, a keen analytical eye and an obvious sense of pride in the club.

Written by Alex Timperley who is on Twitter

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