FOOTBALL MAN – Johnny Giles.
Published by Hachette Books of Ireland – Price £20
There are ‘Football books, and there are ‘Football books’. There are ‘Auto-biographies’ and there are ‘Auto-biographies’. In fact there are many ‘so-called’ football ‘Auto-biographies’ around at this moment in time. Many of them ‘ghost written’ for popular players, whose careers quite frankly, have barely ‘scratched the surface’ of both their knowledge of, and time in their profession, that it smacks more of a financial exercise, than their desire to let ‘their’ fans know, what they actually want to know.
These books, I think most avid readers of football literature, will agree, are not worth the read. One book which definately does NOT fall into this category, is the latest and most complete ‘addition to the bookshelf’ by the little ‘Genius’ that is, not was, is, John Giles.
Of course, all right minded ‘West Bromwich Albion’ fans, will still share in the ‘glow and the glory’ of that great 1975-76 campaign, when ‘The Baggies’ led (and I say led, rather than managed) by the ‘mercurial’ Giles, returned to the elite of football, after three seasons in the wilderness. Of course he dedicates pages of this book to that campaign, which should of course encourage ‘Albion’ fans everywhere to give it a read.
Titled quite simply ‘Football man’, it is probably one of the most honest and credible pieces of ‘football literature’ to have hit the book shelves in recent years. Once I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down. The fact that it ‘explodes’ the myths I have had about both the great managers in Giles long and colourful career, Sir Matt Busby and Don Revie, enormously helped the books appeal. Added to that the authors honest interpretation of what went on in the ‘corridors of power’ at both Manchester United and Leeds United, was simply ‘Riveting’. I certainly have had to ‘re-shape’ my feelings of these great clubs, and of course great managers. Giles also later helps to explain, the truth about the ‘infamous 44 days’ in the life of Brian Clough, and the whole ‘Damned United’ saga. In truth, I have neither, read the book, or seen the film, and do not intend to. Having read John Giles book, I do not need to. I know the truth.
John of course, spends many, many chapters trawling through the trials and tribulations of his early life, in Ireland and later in Manchester and Leeds. His ‘life and times’ as player and ‘Player/Manager with his ‘beloved’ Eire team, are also well documented, and add immensely to this most fascinating account of football life.
Throughout this most remarkable book, Giles honesty and integrity ‘shine through’ wonderfully, as the little genius, captures the reader, as totally with his writing as he did his efforts on the football field.
Published in Ireland by Hachette press, for a mere twenty quid, I hereby acknowledge a publication that should find a space on any football ‘connoisseurs’ bookshelf.
Laurie Rampling-December 2010.