Book Review: The Arsenal Stadium Mystery by Leonard Gribble

The Arsenal Stadium Mystery by Leonard Gribble

I know what you are thinking, it is not a new book to review. It is the return of the book reviews section on the blog. GCR books do an outstanding service in reprinting historic Arsenal books. This week will see original reviews re-posted and then appearing on their own page.

For those who do not know, the story is set against the backdrop of a fictional match between Arsenal and an amateur team called The Trojans. As Mick Jones sang, ‘Somebody Got Murdered‘ and Inspector Slade is called in to save the day, which he duly does. Or rather, solve the case, for it would not be much of a ‘whodunnit’ if you were still wondering the identity of the culprit at the end of the book.

Set eighty years ago, it is almost inconceivable that such a book could be written in today’s football climate with the natural suspicion that clubs, players, managers and staff hold the media. If Gribble did not have access behind the scenes, he possessed an astute eye for observing characters, descriptions of the playing staff and their personalities entirely plausible.

Where the book excels in football literature is capturing the emotions surrounding the game, both on and off the pitch. Anyone who stood on terraces at Highbury will relate entirely to Gribble’s depiction of the stadium emptying and queues for the tube station.

Compared to today’s crime writing, the absence of car chases, swearing and sex scenes is a refreshing change. It concentrates purely on the crime, characters and their lives. Even so, the pace is consistent throughout and an enjoyable read it is too.

GCR Books are looking at other Arsenal titles so let us hope that they are able to reprint those as a decent job has been made of this one. The Arsenal Stadium Mystery can be purchased directly from GCR Books and with Christmas around the corner, a recommended stocking filler for all.

Posted on November 14, 2011, in Arsenal, Book Review, Football, Soccer and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. Interesting review.

    The then Arsenal manager George Allinson and a number of Arsenal players also appeared in the film of the book which was screened just before the outbreak of World War 2.

    It was filmed, in part, at Highbury Stadium and when I watched it recently on TV it was very strange and other worldly, altho’ I recognized the pitch!! 🙂

    Quite enjoyed it.

  2. The opposition in the film were Brentford players, I believe.

  3. I see Alf Fields, the Arsenal centre half at the time, who appeared as himself in the film died today aged 92. After a career spoiled by injury he worked for the club in a series of backroom jobs until 1983 and even after was a visitor to Colney and helped looked after the youth teams.

    The club have a tribute to him on the website – nice touch

  4. Having enjoyed the film as a boy in 1939, I watched it again on tv a few years ago. In black and white, with a dodgy story and some stilted acting, I found it disappointing…..which just goes to show how pampered we have become with the advances in film-making.

  5. I shall have to read it again now -and i’m very busy!

  6. So Yogi – for a first-timer, who knows about both book and film; which to get first ? Obviously everyone reads a book and then knocks the film because it doesn’t fit in with their perceptions.. but would like to know your, and others thoughts..
    If nothing else, the title has to look good on both shelf collections.

  7. Dammit – that was meant to be ‘ponyboy’..these days I even forget my own wrong name!

  8. I have the book but have not got around to reading it yet, but I have watched the film and found it quite entertaining. I’m a big fan of old black & white movies and don’t mind that they are dated. If the story is strong enough to hold up on it’s own, you can usually accept they are of their time and take them on face value without trying to compare them to a modern thriller. In the film I found the eccentric detective character quite amusing and probably because of the highly mannered style of the time, George Allinson’s acting didn’t look too out of place either.

    You’ve certainly tempted me to pick up the book and get round to reading it now Yogi!

  9. YW – I read the book but have not seen the movie. I seriously doubt it will be on American TV any time soon!

    C’bob – “I shall have to read it again now -and i’m very busy!” – Really? It seems that the second someone mentions the word “Pasties”, your wise old head pops up and starts going on about your Grandma’s recipe!! Oh and the ‘i’ in “i’m” should be capitalised, just saying! 🙂

  10. Shouldn’t you have been in bed? Just saying!

  11. C’bob – I was!! 🙂

  12. I really like your post hope to read more from you.



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