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In Review: The Elite Era

Filed: Friday, 3rd November 2000
By: Tony Fowles

John Helliar (Desert Island Books)
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The greatest ever book on West Ham United? A very bold statement but a first look at John Helliar’s The Elite Era” certainly looks that way, a follow up to Clive Leatherdales, “From Greenwood to Redknapp”, I was originally expecting that all John was going to do was update the pages since and before that book was published.

But how wrong could I be, yes the stats have been updated so that the book details every line up for both West Ham and the opposition from 1958 to 2000! Every goal scorer, even the referee’s name and also including a 50 word match report for each game, just that one section is enough on it’s own. 

But the magic of “The Elite Era” is that in addition to the strong stats section John Helliar has reviewed every season in that period, so overall you have around 500 pages filled with facts and figures and some very interesting reading.

With John being the official club historian (and he also works in the pressroom on match days), I was initially dubious about how he would cover the most controversial incidents during that period. Such as the Bond scheme and the departures of John Lyall and Billy Bonds, I fully expected these matters to be avoided but to John Helliar’s credit he does not. He gives some very interesting opinions on these matters; I am not going to say what they are because that may spoil your enjoyment of the book. 

Priced at £18.99 and published by Desert Island Books, on the surface it may seem a bit steep, but when you consider that I was recently given a paper back to review which was in all honesty a load of rubbish in my opinion and that with only a fraction of the pages retailed at £6.99, so the price of the Elite Era is quite fair considering it’s quality of content.

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