Football book review: Be My Guest, Football Superstars in Australia

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From George Best to Bobby Moore and David Villa to Sir Bobby Charlton, Australia has had some of the greatest footballers in history grace its shores.

Blink and you may have missed them, their contracts were short, whilst their impact varied from player to player.

Second-time author Jason Goldsmith and newcomer Lucas Gillard take a trip down memory lane with their book ‘Be My Guest, Football Superstars in Australia’, looking at the plethora of overseas talent who spent an off season or even just a few days playing Australian domestic football.

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Broken into three sections, the pair discuss the players who left their mark on Australian soil, the clubs built on marquees and the players who almost opted to come Down Under.

Starting with Alex ‘Sandy’ Young’s two matches for Victorian side Tongala in 1914, and ending with Usain Bolt’s eventful pre-season with Central Coast Mariners in 2018, if a high-profile athlete came to play football on Australian shores on a short-term contract, it is guaranteed to be somewhere within these 232 pages of knowledge.

Be aware from the beginning that if you want to learn about players who came Down Under on longer contracts, including the likes of Alessandro Del Piero and Keisuke Honda, they are not included here. That is not what this book is about.

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Instead, it is a complete and in-depth history of players of different calibres coming to Australian shores with the idea of playing a short stint with sometimes multiple clubs.

For these players they often got an all-expenses paid holiday to Australia on top of match payments, whilst clubs hopefully got increased fan interest in return.

This was at least the case most of the time.

Both Goldsmith and Gillard discuss every player from those who lit up the league, footballers that captivated the Australian public, and ones who put bluntly in the book, played like ‘busted arses’.

The way that both Goldsmith and Gillard are able to keep you invested in every footballer is truly incredible. Over 50 players’ stories on Australian shores are told in the book, using information from classic Australian Soccer Weekly and Soccer Action editions, whilst also having quotes from the sources themselves.

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The likes of former Socceroos coach Rale Rasic and Jeff Olver tell their stories first hand, whilst former players from the NSL and State League discuss what it was like suiting up next to and against these all-time greats.

No matter if the section is on Peter Price’s stint at Gladesville-Ryde in the 1960’s or David Villa’s Melbourne City guest appearance some 50 years later, it is clear that the effort has been put in to make each story as captivating as the next, filled to the brim with the detail and information that they deserve.

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‘Be My Guest’ is a book for football fans of every generation. If you are a lover of all things NSL and State League, then this is the perfect opportunity to reminisce about that era.

If you were instead born during or just before the A-League Men and may not know much about the early days of football in this country, it is the perfect starting point to get an understanding of some of the most incredible players to participate in Australian domestic football.

Put simply, you would struggle to find a football fan that would not enjoy this book. Whether learning or reminiscing, it truly has something for anyone and everyone.

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‘Be My Guest, Football Superstars in Australia’ gets a rating of 4.5 out of 5.

Whilst being extremely close to scoring a perfect five, occasionally when discussing players there is so much information that it can get a little hard to track, however, this is only a minor point and one that does not take away from the enjoyment of the book.

It is the type of book that all Australian football fans should have on their shelves, and one that is nearly impossible to put down once you start reading.

To view all book reviews by The Football Sack, click here.

Feature Image Credit: Supplied

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William Makepeace
Current Intern covering Canberra United. Sports Media student at University of Canberra who lives and breathes Football

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