Book Reviews

My Father and Other Working Class Football Heroes by Gary Imlach

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List Price: £9.99

 

Paperback: 234 Pages.

Published: 03 August 2006 by Yellow Jersey

Edition: New Ed

ISBN: 0224072684

EAN: 9780224072687

Stewart Imlach was an ordinary neighbourhood soccer star of his time.

A brilliant winger who thrilled the crowd on Saturdays, then worked alongside them in the off-season; who represented Scotland in the 1958 World Cup and never received a cap for his efforts; who was Man of the Match for Nottingham Forest in the 1959 FA Cup Final, and was rewarded with the standard offer – £20 a week, take it or leave it.

Gary Imlach grew up a privileged insider at Goodison Park when Stewart moved into coaching. He knew the highlights of his father’s career by heart. But when his dad died he realised they were all he knew. He began to realise, too, that he’d lost the passion for football that his father had passed down to him. In this book he faces his growing alienation from the game he was born into, as he revisits key periods in his father's career to build up a picture of his football life – and through him a whole era.

Reviews

4.0 Stars4.0 Stars4.0 Stars4.0 Stars  by Anne

Interesting social commentary even for those with no interest in football

Gary Imlach's father, Stewart, was a professional footballer who played in an FA cup winning squad and also for Scotland in the World Cup but in the days when he played the conditions for footballers were very different from the present. Stewart was tied into a contract with a maximum salary, reduced pay if he was injured, no say in his transfer and was forced to take a job over the summer to make ends meet. When his father died, the author realised that he had never really known him and so met with his ex-colleagues and undertook some research to build up a picture of the life of a professional footballer in the 1950s and 60s. The book which has resulted from this investigation is a very interesting social history of class and sport during this period.

This book is well written and full of interesting detail about footballers and their lives as well as concentrating specifically on Stewart. It illustrates a time when football was played by and supported by ordinary working class men who lived alongside each other and earned much the same. It is not difficult to compare the lives of Stewart and his colleagues with those of the footballers about whom we hear so much today. Stewart ended his career as a groundsman on a municipal pitch having held coaching and administrative jobs in football after his playing career ended. Reading between the lines, it is obvious that the author has concentrated on the social history aspects of his father's story because Stewart was not always a likeable man and did not have a particularly positive relationship with his sons and it would also have been interesting to read a little more about how the situation affected the wives and their lives but this is a fascinating book nonetheless and well worth a read even if you have no particular interest in football.

 
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