Book Review: The Acid Test by Clyde Best
In April 1972, history was made at the Boleyn Ground as West Ham United played Tottenham Hotspur. West Ham manager Ron Greenwood, who later gave an international debut to England’s first black player, picked three black players for the first time in English football. They were Bermudan forward Clyde Best, Nigerian born US striker Ade Coker, who scored that day, and Canning Town-born full-back John Charles. The Acid Test is Best’s autobiography. The title coming from an anonymous letter sent to him threatening to throw acid at him.
It is a superb book, chronicling Best’s early years on the Atlantic island of Bermuda, his team at West Ham, and his later years playing for Feyenoord and in the US before going into coaching.
It is a great book as Best explains advice from his father helped him deal with the shocking racial abuse he had to put up with opposition fans and how he learned his trade. The book features at the end comments from other footballers and fans, some of whom were also blacked who were inspired by the pioneering trail Best laid out.
This book is an exact look at how a human being triumphed over people who didn’t like him simply because of the colour of his skin.
It also offers a fascinating insight into how the game has changed over the decades. For West Ham players, in particular, Best offers a first-hand account of working with club legends such as Greenwood, John Lyall, Bobby Moore, Martin Peters, Geoff Hurst, Billy Bonds too name a few. There’s also a fascinating section on working with Dutch greats Rinus Michels and Johan Cruyff at the Los Angeles Aztecs, as well as playing against Pele when he was at the New York Cosmos.
Awarded an MBE in 2006, Best achieved a lot in his career, not bad for a man, who on page 97, describes himself as “a kid who couldn’t find the Boleyn Ground and got off at the wrong tube stop the day he arrived in drizzly England” as a teenager.
Rating — 5/5 stars
Next Book to Review: Conquerors: How Portugal Forged The First Global Empire by Roger Crowley.