After a boozy night culminating around the kitchen table at a mate’s house, conversation turned to football books. We’re both former Poms who have made a life in Sydney and I was excited to find out what he had read and could recommend. At the end of the evening he appeared with a trio of his favourites.
I’ve already read Mick Quinn’s ‘Who Ate All The Pies?’ although many years ago. and I’m still getting through the first Bobby Robson book, so this second one can wait. The pick of the three for me though was Full Time : the secret life of Tony Cascarino. I’d heard of this one and had searched half-heartedly on line for it in the past – it wasn’t easy to get hold of. Casting aside my current reads, this one took precedence and I absolutely ripped into it.
After an early shout on Twitter that this could be the book that I had long been waiting for, and getting affirmation in the replies, I made time to race through the chapters. That culminated in a marathon Friday night session to finish the book. I’m pretty sure that this is now my favourite football writing of all time. Perhaps it is the depiction of the turmoil of Tony Goal’s personal life that resonated with me, and the fact that he had been in France around the time I was there and experiencing the same events. Maybe it’s even the ageing footballer just like Jarrod Black in my Unashamed Football Novels as he hits previously unattainable highs on the field in his latter years.
No point in giving away spoilers to what is an absolute masterpiece – you’ll have to read it for yourself. I found myself taking photos of paragraphs and sharing them with friends. This book has definitely struck a chord. When I compare it to Paul Ferris’ Boy On The Shed, I feel that Tony’s book was the original and Paul’s book was a slightly darker and more detailed follow up. Self-deprecating, brutally honest with a focus on inner demons and self-doubt. Totally absorbing and fascinating.
I’m always keen to hear about books that have had a similar effect on others. Maybe this Unashamed Football Novels blog should become something of a shrine to the football book, although I’m sure there are plenty of those sites out there already. Leave a comment if you have a book in mind, and why I should read it.