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Rough Guide 11s - Celtic
by Steve Morgan; Rough Guides; 128 pages paperback; £4.99

This wee book is one of a collection devoted to 'Britain's greatest football teams', although there's also one about Rangers as well (the others are Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, arsenal and Newcastle).

The format is simply a collection of lists comprising eleven items (eleven - football, geddit?) under a series of headings, most of which are light-hearted. For example, for those who like to bring conversations in the pub to a shuddering halt, you might like to tell your mates that former goalie Allen McKnight helped construct the M25 in London while working as a navvy (some might suggest he should have stuck to his day job) or that Graeme Sinclair was an Elvis impersonator, or indeed that Murdo MacLeod's middle name is Davidson.

Mainly the lists in the book are about bests and worsts, the only small jarring note being that some events appear in more than one category. While it's not exactly trying to nudge The Glory and the Dream out the way in terms of its narrative style nor its importance as a historical tome, nonetheless there's usually something of interest when you dip into its hundred odd pages during a 5 minute lull in your busy schedule.

The interesting thing is to compare the Celtic volume with its Rangers counterpart. The format is exactly the same although the titles of the lists are slightly different. Maybe I was imagining it, but there seemed to be an unhealthy emphasis on lists involving scandals or Rangers players getting drunk.

There were also a few glaring omissions. Under the category 'Old Firm Agonies', for example, the eight goal thriller that was the 1957 League Cup final has been airbrushed out, vanished down the memory hole. Similarly, in the hit parade of '11 popular ditties at Ibrox' ('Sing Up') top of the charts is something called 'The Boys in Royal Blue' (What that? Puzzled Ed) with 'Follow Follow' at number 2. No mention of the two singularly most rendered anthems and those most likely to have the denizens of the Death star 'sing up', namely The Sash and that other delightful folk tune about being up the knees in Fenian blood.

The Rough Guide books were originally travelogues for independent travellers setting off to exotic locations, and if the intended readership for the football versions is for independent travellers about to embark on expeditions to the deepest recesses of Ibrox then they'd do well to at least arm them with foreknowledge of what's in store for their eardrums.

Nobody reading this, I suspect, will be ready to part with a fiver to delve into the hun psyche, but the Celtic book might help pass a few journeys on the supporters bus, as long as the destination's not too far away.

MANFRED LURKER

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