Book Review: Danish Dynamite

Danish Dynamite by Rob Smyth, Lars Eriksen and Luke Gibbons.

Books can be a wonderful tool to take you back in time and help you learn about an era that you didn’t really know existed.

As a kid born in the eighties, I became interested in football domestically in 1989. In 1990 I watched my first World Cup and my love for the game became everlasting.

So I remember when football was clean of the internet; where you only discovered certain players, styles and countries on a two or four year cycle via European Championships and World Cups. You no longer get that feeling of discovery within the beautiful game… Or so I thought.

This book took me back to the 1980s and had me learning about a swashbuckling team I had only vaguely heard about before I read ‘Danish Dynamite’.

I had always loved the Danish kits, was a huge fan of Brian Laudrup growing up and loved the story of the Danish players coming away from their beach holidays to win the Euros in 1992. But I hadn’t known what went before them.

The authors of this book detailed Denmark’s footballing history before the 80s. I hadn’t realised that the Danes remained fiercely loyal to the amatuer side of football for so long and were for a significant time whipping boys of international qualifying groups.

The way the book is written is reminiscent of the playing style of the Danish team that they were writing about. At parts it’s a slow but accurate patient build up. That will then quickly burst into life with bombastic language to describe glorious games like Denmark’s 6-1 win over Uruguay in the 86′ World Cup or a vintage goal scored by a stunning world class player like Preben Elkjaer.

I particularly loved how they describe the roles of midfielders Klaus Berggreen and Jens Jørn Bertelsen:

‘Tactically astute midfielders who selflessly carried water so that the likes of Elkjaer and Laudrup could walk on it.’

Every player of that era seems to get his rightful place within the book and boss Sepp Piontek’s influence on them is reinforced throughout. It also describes how the squad and the manager changed the Dnaish footballing culture forever and how it captured the hearts of it’s fanatical support.

This really is a very long love note to a bygone era and a football team that really caught the imagination. It even managed to make me fall in love with that Danish Dynamite team thirty odd years later!

As the book says, we love to look back and remember the almost men and the ones that caught our attention through skill and passion. That particular Denmark team only knew one way to play football, by entertaining and going all out. That would prove to be their downfall but it’s why the story still resonates and why they’re such a great choice as subjects for this wonderfully written book.

They say don’t buy a book based on the cover but a big part of my purchase was based on the splendid cover that spells out Denmark without the use of letters. It’s looks splendid on your bookcase but the detail inside has you clambering to read chapter after chapter.

Danish Dynamite is available online at Waterstones.

(Note on the picture – I was extremely fortunate to possess the ideal blanket that just goes ideally with the front cover of the book!)

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