An Honest Footie Book Is a Rarity; Autobiographies Only Work When a Player Opens Up

Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England), October 16, 2013 | Go to article overview

An Honest Footie Book Is a Rarity; Autobiographies Only Work When a Player Opens Up


Byline: The Last Word Neil Cameron reveals what's getting under his skin this week

IT HAS been my good fortune to have read two more than decent football autobiographies in the last few weeks.

Both involving former Newcastle United players, as it happens.

Keith Gillespie's book is an honest and graphic account of his descent into a gambling hell and how he lost the best part of PS10million.

You find yourself shouting at the pages as he takes another stroll to the bookies.

"Come on, Keith mate. You are PS8m down now. Probably time to take up fishing."

Gillespie is not for listening. He also is not for seeking redemption of anyone to say it was not his fault.

To his credit, something he was never in at the bookies, Gillespie admits he was an idiot.

His story is a harsh lesson to any young player coming through, which is basically not to spunk your money away on horses.

Women and booze is understandable, but stay away from the racetrack, kids.

The other book I like - and by that I mean I finished it - was Peter Jackson's.

He was hardly a football superstar, but I admired the way he took us into life in the less glamorous world of the lower divisions.

It is well written and, again, honest.

I recommend both.

There have been a few good ones down the years The best of all time is Tony Cascarino's.

It is a brilliant read.

On the first page, he works out how much money he has made during his career. He then goes on to explain he is having an affair with a much younger woman and his wife and kids know nothing about it.

Then we get to page four. A lot of the Irish players, and Tony is sort of Irish, turn out great yarns.

Paul McGrath's is a belter. He was reduced to drinking meths in the street by the end of his lowest point, before ending up in jail.

Roy Keane is Roy Keane in his own book.

I would like him to do another one so he could reveal how he is going to hide the body of Adrian Chiles once he has killed him.

One of the best is Garry Nelson's 'Left Foot In the Grave'. It is a genuinely hilarious account of life in the lower divisions, as he helps Torquay avoid relegation to the Nationwide Conference. By the end you find yourself willing him on to do it and supporting Torquay.

By and large, though, football books are not great.

Wayne Rooney signed up for five autobiographies, which is three more books than he has actually read, or at least has been read to him by Coleen.

I tried to read the first one. It was an enjoyable as watching the whole series of Miranda while George Osbourne gave you a lapdance. He talks about being brought up in Liverpool with no warmth or humour, and gives us little insight into what he was like as a kid. …

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