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My Father And Other Working Class Football Heroes [Paperback]

Gary Imlach
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
RRP: 9.99
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Book Description

3 Aug 2006

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.

My Father and Other Working-Class Heroes brilliantly recaptures a lost world and the way it changed, blending the personal and the historical into a unique soccer story.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Yellow Jersey; New Ed edition (3 Aug 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224072684
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224072687
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 19.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 94,464 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"The most emotionally charged and moving sports book I think I've ever read - Harry Ritchie, Daily Mail" (Daily Mail Harry Ritchie)

"One of the most deserving William Hill winners in the award's history ... The book of the year" (Christopher Maume Independent)

"A remarkable book... Imlach is a gifted writer, pungently aware, admirably combative, knowledgeable and compassionate" (Brian Glanville Sunday Times)

"My Father and Other Working-Class Heroes immediately joins the Football Classic Club - whose members are bonded by using football as a backdrop for something entirely different... A beautiful personal history" (Rick Broadbent Times)

"If I could have my memories of Stewart Imlach surgically extracted, I would wrap them carefully, put them in a box, and send them to his son. Unlike me, Gary Imlach never saw his father play football... But that has not prevented the son from producing one of the best sports books of recent years. A book to treasure" (Richard Williams Guardian)

Book Description

The most highly acclaimed sports book of 2005, now available in paperback - the moving story of one man's search for his father, and for the game he played

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Memoirs of deceased parents can be mawkishly sentimental ponderous affairs drowning in pathos, but Imlach has succeeded in writing a book that is deftly light in tone and entertaining as well as being, by turns, moving, funny and informative.

The contrast between professional footballers' lives half a century ago and today is fascinating - wages were a fraction of what they are now, and not only were players not the superstars they are now but they were often treated with little respect by their clubs, who would occasionally arrange transfers without informing them first.

There are many hilarious moments here, among them the author's foiling an attempt to foul him in a school match by getting in there first, his mum hiding in the pantry when her husband played in professional matches so that she could avoid the radio commentary, and the arch wilfulness of waiters trying to humiliate the wives of players at a posh dinner. This last scene shows off Imlach's flair and wit to the full, with the asparagus laid before the bewildered wives being described as 'straightened question marks to which they had no answer'.

The ease with which Imlach recounts absorbing tales, his ability to draw humour from everyday occurences, and his passion for football will draw obvious comparisons with Nick Hornby or David Baddiel. Hopefully, like them, he will turn his hand to fiction and become a fully fledged writer of best selling laugh-out-loud, blokeish novels.

Leyla Sanai
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Moving 27 Sep 2006
By G. L. Haggett VINE VOICE
Part social history, part family memoir, this is on one hand a son's moving story of his father's life and the ups and downs of a career largely spent outside the top level of professional football. On the other hand, the author uses football to trace social change over the last fifty years.

Nick Hornby's "Fever Pitch" has prompted pale imitations by writers nowhere near as gifted. This book, however, is exceptional in the sense that a talented writer with a broad world view and the perspective that that provides has taken a sideways glance at the rot, corruption and exploitation at the heart of professional football.

Towards the end of the book, he describes his own loss of interest in a game which has become increasingly detached from its core values and traditional audience. Many will empathise with the sentiments he expresses.

At a time when publishers seem to take every opportunity to save on production costs, it should be stated that this is a beautifully produced paperback, worthy of a place on anyone's bookshelf.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Real men and real footballers 28 Aug 2006
By Sarah
This book should be a must read for all the modern day poseurs masquerading as professional footballers. They should be made to read it before signing their contract, endorsements and image rights.

It is a excellent, informative read of football in that era of 1950s & 60s but also a social commentary of that era and insight into housing, work and unfortunately class barriers.

As a member of the tartan army it also shows why we've done so poorly at world cups ie for 1958 no manager, Matt Busby lying injured in hospital, so what do we do? Let a committee of selectors, most who have never played the game, pick the team, cream the expenses whilst some players lost money representing their country!

It is also an interesting tale of a father and son relationship, probably told with some regrets after his death.

I highly commend this book to you.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic 17 Nov 2006
By Zak
I heard many good things about this book, and I wasn't disappointed. It is written superbly and manages beautifully to interwine personal memeries with an historical account of the game as it was played pre and post World War 2. The last chapter is just a delight. I would challenge anyone not be moved by it.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How it really was 7 April 2007
By Coucho
This is an excellent book that works at many levels. It's part football history and partly a son writing about his Dad and appreciating him and his life. Makes you appreciate that whilst the wages being earnt now are wildly high, it was not that long ago that there were awful.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book 1 April 2007
Don't mistake this book for one of the Hornby-esq clones - its not another football supporters memoir. Instead its a engaging account of one player written by his son. Some of the stuff is remembered , some newly-discovered and some , inevitably , perceived now, but not at the time.The main themes are the precariousness of professional sport for the journeyman, the way players were treated in 50s/60s and sons remembering dads. Recommended.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best I've read ! 18 Mar 2007
By sgeoff
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is the best football book I've ever read, but it's so much more than that. Beautiful written, this moving account not only recreates a lost world when footballers were part of the community and travelled to the home match by public bus and then walked to the players' entrance ; it also details a man's search for the father he had never really learned about while he was alive. In the first chapter, looking at a photo of the Forest team of 1959, including his father Stewart, lining up to receive the Cup from the Queen, Gary Imach asks "What had that moment been like for him ? Why didn't I know ? Why had I never asked him this simple question ? How had I managed to let him die without properly gathering together the details of his career, his life story ?" Many adults whose fathers are now dead will share these questions and emotions, but few if any will go on to recreate their father's life and times as impressively as Imalach does. A brilliant account of football in the 50s and 60s, when players didn't own flash houses and cars, and were enslaved to clubs by their one-sided contracts ; and a most moving family story. If I could give 6 stars I would !
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best football books ever written
Quite simply one of the best football books ever written. Gary Imlach takes the reader on a personal journey back in time to an era when football stars were everyday neighbourhood... Read more
Published 4 days ago by Paul
4.0 out of 5 stars great stuff
Prompt delivery, great stuff thanks
Published 1 month ago by V Albani
4.0 out of 5 stars A Footballer's Journey
A memoir by sports journalist Gary Imlach about his father Stewart. This is a beautiful tribute and testimony to a football world now disappeared - one in which the Scots (not to... Read more
Published 1 month ago by R. Newbold
4.0 out of 5 stars Football and working life from a different era
A loving portrayal of family and football in the 50s and 60s
For anyone who can remember it but also anyone who wants to know what it was like
Published 2 months ago by Andrew F Hall
3.0 out of 5 stars My father and Other Working Class Heroes
I am not a football fan but can relate to this book due to its historical contribution to football. It certainly highlights the differences between the hard-working and poorly... Read more
Published 2 months ago by David Robert Hounslow
5.0 out of 5 stars Family interest
I had a personal interest in this book as Stewart Imlach was my cousin. It is a very interesting and well written book. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Pin Budd
5.0 out of 5 stars Best football book ever
When I read a review of this I was sure I'd heard the name before.. Quite amazed to work out that it was the same Gary Imlach I was thinking of, the competent but fairly workaday... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Mr. A. Bond
5.0 out of 5 stars a brilliant read
It's not a sports book, it's just a book about normal things. It's deeply personal and brilliantly written.

I have not enjoyed a book as much in a long time. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Phil
5.0 out of 5 stars present for my father
and he's loving it.
Nothing else to say so whay should I add another 16 words!
No response required please
Published 11 months ago by Gary Forshaw
5.0 out of 5 stars Honesty and Integrity - a book written to reveal what is really was...
A different approach than normal in examining the history of a football player - really a social economic history which combines insights into the culture of the time in the... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Jo James
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