On the face of it AK-86: Two Shots In The Heart Of Scottish Football is a pretty niche book. Focusing on Hearts’ brush with a league title 30 years ago, Grant Hill looks at how Hearts squandered their chance at glory and the man that fired the goals to deny them, Albert Kidd. So far, so niche. However, to dismiss this book as nothing more than a little bit of hipster reading is incredibly harsh and massively foolish.
See, this book is about more than just Hearts and Albert Kidd. Hill managers to incorporate a number of other teams into the story – the outside challengers (Celtic), the horrified rivals (Hibs), the all-conquering side that were looking on in admiration (Aberdeen) and many more. It’s a clever idea and brings to life not just Hearts’ title challenge but the entire Scottish top flight season and the 80s footballing landscape.
It’s a different way of approaching things but one that is necessary in the grand scheme of things to keep you hooked. Context is everything to make the death blow dealt by Albert Kidd on the final day mean something to the reader.
A real highlight comes from the fans of the clubs interviewed by Hill for the book. A number of funny little anecdotes and stories give the run-in a real human feel and turn what could have been a fact based bore fest into something with emotions and meaning.
But meaning is irrelevant if the facts are wrong and to Hill’s credit he has researched this book incredibly thoroughly. There is a level of detail that makes this not only an interesting read but also rather educational to those of us too young to see this unfold.
The most impressive thing about AK-86 is the overarching point of the book. This is not merely about an unexpected title charge. This is showing that this was the end of an era in Scottish football. The big spending days of the Souness era were upon Scotland and 1986 really marked the last time that a side on a limited budget could feasibly take on the Old Firm.
I can’t highly recommend this book enough. It’s a jam packed informative and engrossing read that highlights the far reaching implications one small moment of football can have on so many teams and people. 1986 saw a seismic shift in Scottish football and Grant Hill has put it on paper in a wonderful way.
Verdict – Informative, engrossing and well worth reading. 8/10
‘AK-86: Two Shots In The Heart Of Scottish Football’ published by Wholepoint Publications is available now. You can find out more about the book and where to buy it here.