Tuesday 23 May 2017

Last-minute presents for people you don’t really like

Sweeper! by Steve Bruce
Sweeper! by Steve Bruce
Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

If the shopping is going badly, then help is at hand. Or perhaps not

Books

'Jose Mourinho - Up Close And Personal' by Robert Beasley

David Beckham - My Son by Ted Beckham
David Beckham - My Son by Ted Beckham

This new release will offer some light reading for the football fan in the Kris Kindle, and is recommended if you don't like them. It falls short of what it says on the tin. Former Sun reporter Beasley has penned what is described as a 'gripping biography' of Mourinho that largely homes in on their own relationship.

This details texts and emails between the pair and highlights the role that Beasley tried to play in various matters, including a push to get the 'Special One' appointed as England boss.

Occasionally, it reads like Beasley's autobiography, a tale of unrequited friendship.

"I told Jose that fellow journalist Paul Smith and I were heading to a famous Malibu restaurant," writes Beasley of a Chelsea pre-season trip to Los Angeles. "He said he loved the idea of a night out with us so I rang and amended the reservation from two to three. Jose didn't make it."

A description of the night out follows regardless and we are told that Mourinho would have thoroughly enjoyed it. The final interaction between the pair detailed in the tome is an email to Mourinho's Chelsea address that bounces back to the author. The reader is left wondering if the humour is intentional.

'Sweeper' by Steve Bruce

Aston Villa tax disc holder
Aston Villa tax disc holder

This could be hard to track down as it was selling for £250 on eBay in October. In the late 1990s, Bruce reached the end of his playing days and took his baby steps into management while using his spare time to pen a trio of murder mystery novels.

Sweeper is part of a series that also includes Striker and Defender and they chronicle the exploits of main character Steve Barnes who was in charge of a team named Leddersford Town (Bruce was managing Huddersfield Town) at the time.

A splendid review on the Setpieces website summarised his work as a "warren of intrigue featuring Yugoslavian warlords, lesbian prostitutes, Nazi-hunting spies and much, much more besides". A must-have.

'David Beckham - My Son' by Ted Beckham

From the bargain basement. The superstar's father did not consult his son prior to the publication of this 2005 book, which is classy behaviour really. Still, it's available for just £0.01 on Amazon so if there's somebody in the family that you'd prefer to short-change then this would be a fitting tribute.

Tickets

African Cup of Nations Final

For the adventurous traveller, a New Year's present of a jaunt to Gabon, a controversial choice of host. The African authorities faced pressure to reverse their decision when the president, Ali Bongo, was re-elected in August following a contested vote that led to riots.

In September, local media reported that one stadium was yet to be connected to electricity and running water. And a report on the pitch concluded that: "Given the holes in certain parts, there's still work to be done."

The final takes place in Libreville on Sunday, February 5. A flight out through Addis Ababa on the Saturday evening gets you in on the morning of the game.

Take in the match, stay overnight in the €100 per room hotels on offer and then trek home via Cameroon, Addis Ababa and London, and the recipient will be back at the desk by Tuesday morning. Leave a bit aside for spending money and visa issues and the weekend break will cost in the region of €1,500.

Worth it for the shocked look on the face of the recipient when they open the envelope.

Flights to Oman

For the FAI official who seems to have everything. They keep bringing Oman to us so why not send them to Oman? They don't have any fixtures listed at the moment - the lads are probably waiting on a +353 call - with the Asian Cup draw next month setting out their schedule.

Who needs to watch Ireland to appreciate Oman? With flights at €500 return, this will give the lucky FAI man a chance to visit their football paradise.

Easter in Preston

Preston is where it's at. With Andy Boyle and Daryl Horgan signing up to join Greg Cunningham, Alan Browne, Aiden McGeady and Eoin Doyle, the Championship club can be the new 'Sundireland' even they don't have Irish ownership, Roy Keane or a pun-friendly name.

It's hard to find a game in the top two tiers of English football where almost half the players on the pitch are Irish-qualified, but Easter Monday could be the answer when Norwich come to town.

Should the Canaries keep hold of Robbie Brady and Wes Hoolahan and follow through on their reported January interest in fence-sitter Scott Hogan then this might just represent the perfect day trip.

Return flights for April 17 are just €44. Cheaper than going to Africa or Asia, and the only thing on this list that is actually worth buying.

Accessories

Aston Villa Tax Disc Holder

Another top Amazon buy. Just £2.99 plus postage to show that officer at the checkpoint that, even if this driver is not tax compliant, they are worthy of sympathy.

Wayne Rooney Cardboard Cut-Out

For the last-minute buyer who does their shopping on Amazon, there's a wonderful opportunity to reward a Manchester United lover with a life-sized cardboard cut-out of Wayne Rooney for £35.

Curiously, this product features Rooney in a suit rather in football gear, perhaps recognising that he might soon be watching a lot of games from the stands.

As of last night, there were only 15 left in stock so move fast. The same range also includes a shouting Donald Trump mask, some Rod Stewart gear and, naturally enough, a small-sized Danny de Vito cut-out.

Leicester city Wedding Garter

This product actually exists and there are two available on eBay for £16.99. And they say there's no romance in football any more. Happy Christmas.

Irish Independent

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