Brian Lester Glanville (born 24 September 1931) is an English football writer and novelist. He was described by The Times as "the doyen of football writers—arguably the finest football writer of his—or any other—generation," and by American journalist Paul Zimmerman as "the greatest football writer of all time."
Brian Lester Glanville
24 September 1931
Hendon, United Kingdom
The son of an Irish Jewish dentist, Glanville was educated at Charterhouse School, where he played football to a high standard. He has had a lengthy career, beginning with ghost-writing Cliff Bastin Remembers, the autobiography of his hero, at 19. A noted critique of the British style of sportswriting in Encounter magazine in the late 1950s lamented the lack of depth compared to the American style of Red Smith, Damon Runyon or A. J. Liebling. As a journalist he spent nearly 30 years as a football correspondent for The Sunday Times, to which he is still a contributor, and has contributed to World Soccer magazine for over 15 years in print and online; he currently contributes a weekly column to the website covering a range of issues. In the 1960s and 1970s, Glanville was a member of the jury which awards the yearly Ballon d'Or France Football (or European Footballer of the Year award). In addition has written for The People and more recently contributed several obituaries of prominent players to The Guardian.
In addition, his work has been seen in publications such as Sports Illustrated and the New Statesman, and the prominent American Football writer Paul Zimmerman has called him "the greatest football writer of all time."
He spent much of his career based in Italy and has been seen as one of the leading authorities on Italian football as a result. Whilst based in both Florence and Rome, he wrote regularly for the Italian daily Corriere Dello Sport, as well as occasional pieces for La Stampa and Corriere della Sera.
During the 1960s, Glanville worked as a writer for the satirical BBC TV programme That Was The Week That Was and wrote the screenplay for Goal!, the BAFTA award-winning official film of the 1966 World Cup. As a novelist he has written mostly about football and life in Italy, with his 1956 novel Along the Arno particularly well received by critics. He has also written The Story of the World Cup, a frequently updated history of the FIFA tournament.
From the mid 1960s to the 1980s, Brian Glanville organised and ran his own very successful (largely) amateur football team, Chelsea Casuals, which, depending on the quality of the opposition, comprised a motley collection of actors, artists, radio, TV and newspaper journalists, university graduates and undergraduates (mainly drawn from the LSE), friends (occasionally professional soccer players and from other sports including cricket. Anecdotes in his book of short stories The King of Hackney Marshes (1965) drew heavily on experiences gained not only from games on the Hackney Marshes but also at Wormwood Scrubs playing fields, the Chelsea Hospital ground and elsewhere. His novel The Rise of Gerry Logan (1963, 1965) predated the rise of the ex-professional radio and TV punditry of the Saint and Greavsie/Alan Hansen/Andy Gray variety.
Glanville is a lifelong supporter of Arsenal F.C.. He is noted for taking a critical view of many issues, often in contrast to the typical British sportswriter. Since its formation, he has criticised the Premier League as the "Greed is Good League" and FIFA president Sepp Blatter is referred to as "Sepp (50 ideas a day, 51 bad) Blatter". Glanville said: "The World Cup has become worse and worse over the years—it is bloated. Whatever Sepp Blatter thinks he knows is only secondary to the money he wants to make." He has also said there are "far too many foreigners in the Premier League" and he criticised the spending of clubs like Manchester City and Chelsea as "repugnant".
After covering England for many years, Glanville developed relationships with a few of the managers. He stated that Alf Ramsey could be "very spiky, but in the final analysis I didn’t get on badly with him and he gave people access." Glanville also mentioned how he thought Bobby Robson was "grotesquely overrated," that he was "a very inadequate manager and he failed so badly in Europe" (a reference to the failure to qualify for UEFA Euro 1984 and England's group stage exit from UEFA Euro 1988), and that nearly reaching the 1990 World Cup final was "down to luck more than judgement." However, he was effusive in his praise of Paul Gascoigne in the latter, saying he had displayed "a flair, a superlative technique, a tactical sophistication, seldom matched by an England player since the war."
- The Reluctant Dictator - London, Laurie, 1952.
- Henry Sows the Wind - London, Secker and Warburg, 1954.
- Along the Arno - London, Secker and Warburg, 1956; New York, Crowell, 1957.
- The Bankrupts - London, Secker and Warburg, and New York, Doubleday, 1958.
- After Rome, Africa - London, Secker and Warburg, 1959.
- Diamond - London, Secker and Warburg, and New York, FarrarStraus, 1962.
- The Rise of Gerry Logan - London, Secker and Warburg, 1963; NewYork, Delacorte Press, 1965.
- A Second Home - London, Secker and Warburg, 1965; New York, Delacorte Press, 1966.
- A Roman Marriage - London, Joseph, 1966; New York, CowardMcCann, 1967.
- The Artist Type - London, Cape, 1967; New York, Coward McCann, 1968.
- The Olympian - New York, Coward McCann, and London, Secker andWarburg, 1969.
- A Cry of Crickets - London, Secker and Warburg, and New York, Coward McCann, 1970.
- Goalkeepers are Different, 1971
- The Financiers - London, Secker and Warburg, 1972; as Money Is Love, New York, Doubleday, 1972.
- The Thing He Loves - London Secker & Warburg, 1974.
- The Comic - London, Secker and Warburg, 1974; New York, Stein andDay, 1975.
- The Dying of the Light - London, Secker and Warburg, 1976.
- Never Look Back - London, Joseph, 1980.
- Kissing America - London, Blond, 1985.
- The Catacomb - London, Hodder and Stoughton, 1988.
- Dictators - London, Smaller Sky Books, 2001.
- A Bad Streak and Other Stories - London, Secker and Warburg, 1961.
- The Director's Wife and Other Stories - London, Secker and Warburg, 1963.
- Goalkeepers Are Crazy: A Collection of Football Stories - London, Secker and Warburg, 1964.
- The King of Hackney Marshes and Other Stories - London, Secker andWarburg, 1965.
- A Betting Man - New York, Coward McCann, 1969.
- Penguin Modern Stories 10, with others - London, Penguin, 1972.
- The Thing He Loves and Other Stories - London, Secker and Warburg, 1973.
- A Bad Lot and Other Stories - London, Penguin, 1977.
- Love Is Not Love and Other Stories - London, Blond, 1985.
- Visit to the Villa (produced Chichester, Sussex, 1981).
- Underneath the Arches, with Patrick Garland and Roy Hudd (produced Chichester, Sussex, 1981; London, 1982).
- Goal!, 1967.
- The Diary, 1987; I Could Have Been King, 1988.
- Television Documentaries: European Centre Forward, 1963.
- Cliff Bastin Remembers, with Cliff Bastin. London, Ettrick Press, 1950.
- Arsenal Football Club, London, Convoy, 1952.
- Soccer Nemesis, London, Secker and Warburg, 1955.
- World Cup, with Jerry Weinstein. London, Hale, 1958.
- Over the Bar, with Jack Kelsey. London, Paul, 1958.
- Soccer round the Globe, London, Abelard Schuman, 1959.
- Know about Football (for children). London, Blackie, 1963.
- World Football Handbook (annual), London, Hodder and Stoughton, 1964; London, Mayflower, 1966–72; London, Queen Anne Press, 1974.
- People in Sport, London, Secker and Warburg, 1967.
- Soccer: A History of the Game, Its Players, and Its Strategy, NewYork, Crown, 1968; as Soccer: A Panorama, London, Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1969.
- The Puffin Book of Football (for children), London, Penguin, 1970; revised edition, 1984.
- Goalkeepers Are Different (for children), London, Hamish Hamilton, 1971; New York, Crown, 1972.
- Brian Glanville's Book of World Football, London, Dragon, 1972.
- The Sunday Times History of the World Cup, London, Times Newspapers, 1973; as History of the Soccer World Cup, New York, Macmillan, 1974; revised edition, as The History of the World Cup, London, Faber, 1980, 1984; revised edition, as The Story of the World Cup, London, Faber, 1997.
- The Sunday Times World Football Handbook 1976 ", London, Playfair,Queen Anne Press,(1975?).
- Target Man (for children), London, Macdonald and Jane's, 1978.
- The Puffin Book of Footballers, London, Penguin, 1978; revised edition, as Brian Glanville's Book of Footballers, 1982.
- A Book of Soccer, New York, Oxford University Press, 1979.
- Kevin Keegan (for children), London, Hamish Hamilton, 1981.
- The Puffin Book of Tennis (for children), London, Penguin, 1981.
- The Puffin Book of the World Cup (for children), London, Penguin, 1984.
- The British Challenge (on the Los Angeles Olympics team), with Kevin Whitney, London, Muller, 1984.
- Footballers Don't Cry: Selected Writings, London, Virgin, 1999.
- Football Memories, London, Virgin, 1999.
- Arsenal Stadium History, London, Hamlyn, 2006.
- England Managers - The Toughest Job in Football, London, Headline, 2007.
- Editor, Footballer's Who's Who, London, Ettrick Press, 1951.
- Editor, The Footballer's Companion, London, Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1962.
- Editor, The Joy of Football, London, Hodder and Stoughton, 1986.
- "Glanville's top 50 greatest hits". The Times. 19 September 2007.
- Yaffe, Simon. "Brian kicked law into touch to score as a top journalist". Jewish Telegraph. Retrieved 6 April 2019.
- "The 60-Year Job: Brian Glanville". The Economist. Archived from the original on 2 December 2013. Retrieved 25 November 2013.
- New Statesman - Kicked into touch
- Guardian Unlimited | Search |
- SI.com - Soccer - World Soccer's Glanville: Africa not ready for hosting - Tuesday May 25, 2004 9:41PM
- New Statesman - Brothers at war
- SI.com - Writers - More Mailbag - Friday June 8, 2007 1:59PM
- World Soccer Archived 8 October 2007 at the Wayback Machine
- MacIntosh, Iain. "Vox in the Box: Brian Glanville". The Set Pieces. Retrieved 6 April 2019.
- Parkinson, Gary (11 June 2018). "World Cup icons: When we all wept with Paul Gascoigne – and remembered him forever (1990)". FourFourTwo. Retrieved 6 April 2019.
- "Brian (Lester) Glanville Biography". Retrieved 25 November 2013.