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In Review: Irons In The Soul

Filed: Thursday, 3rd October 2002
By: Graeme Howlett

Pete May (Mainstream Publishing)
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Essex based comedian Phill Jupitus, long time associate of author May describes this irreverent look at the Hammer's fortunes during the 2001/02 season thus:

"If Ernest Hemingway had come from suburban Essex, dined in Ken's Cafe and been a season ticket holder at Upton Park he may well have come up with this book. Very funny, a real egg and chips romp ..."

And presumably Hemingway would have produced efforts like 'For Whom The Last Bell Tolls' and 'A Farewell To Harry' instead of one or two similarly titled works - whilst 'Death In The Afternoon' would perhaps talk more about Upton Park capitulations at the hands of Charlton and Birmingham rather than tales of bullfighting.

Suffice to say Jupitus' description pretty well sums up this, the latest effort from respected writer/journalist May - a long time suffering Hammers supporter who once formed part of the team which brought us 'Fortunes Always Hiding', the groundbreaking fanzine which ran through the late '80's until its untimely demise in the early '90's.

It's a part of his life that May is obviously proud of, judging by the numerous references to those days and to the friends who once helped produce the much-missed fanzine - so much so that an entire chapter is dedicated to one of his former colleagues (which is perhaps not quite in keeping with the rest of the book).

But that aside this really is an excellent journal covering the whole of last term, serving as a timely memo of a season which had more than its fair share of highs (seventh place finish and three players in an English World Cup squad) and lows (Blackburn and Everton away).

The book kicks off with the club's search for a new manager following the sacking of Harry Redknapp. From Glenn Roeder's surprise appointment, through early struggles right up to the glorious ending (which saw us finish above rivals Spurs for the fourth time in five seasons) the author engages the reader with a witty style, written in much the same vein as Robert Bank's 1996 offering 'An Irrational Hatred of Luton'.

The highlights of the book include the chapter concerning our madcap Italian Paolo Di Canio (and his deep affection for his pet Piranhas), and the end-of-chapter top tens such as 'Top Ten Dodgy West Ham Barnets', 'Top Ten Right Hammerings' and 'Top Ten Thoughts of Chairman Paolo'.

At a penny under a tenner for the paperback version, Irons In The Soul is a worthy addition to any claret and blue book collection.

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