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Fred Trueman: The Authorised Biography [Hardcover]

Chris Waters
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
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Book Description

6 Oct 2011

Fred Trueman was so much more than a cricketing legend.

‘The greatest living Yorkshireman’ according to Prime Minister Harold Wilson, he couldn’t help excelling at everything he did, whether it was as a hostile fast bowler for Yorkshire and England, and the first man to take 300 Test wickets in a career, or as a fearlessly outspoken radio summariser for Test Match Special. He was famous for regularly spluttering that, ‘I don’t know what’s going off out there,’ as well as for the amount of swearing he managed to incorporate into everyday speech. Beloved of cricket crowds, who filled grounds to witness his belligerent way of playing the game, and nothing but trouble to the cricket authorities, ‘Fiery Fred’ was the epitome of a full-blooded Englishman.

But as Chris Waters reveals in this first full biography, behind the charismatic, exuberant mask lay a far less self-assured man – terrified even that his new dog wouldn’t like him – and whose bucolic version of his upbringing bore no relation to the gritty and impoverished South Yorkshire mining community where he actually grew up. Drawing on dozens of new interviews with his Yorkshire colleagues, family and friends, this life of Fred Trueman will surprise and even shock, but also confirm the status of an English folk hero.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Aurum Press Ltd; 1st Edition edition (6 Oct 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1845134532
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845134532
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 209,844 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'It is a proper tribute to Waters that his book belongs in the finest library in the whole of sport... It may be the finest book yet written about a cricketer.

(Michael Henderson The Cricketer)

‘A brilliant account of a remarkable life. There is a whole load of new information about (Trueman). Waters deserves a lot of credit for this book.’


'Now (Trueman) has been brought to life in this wonderful new biography by Chris Waters. It is one of the finest sports books of recent years: well-researched, highly readable and packed with anecdotes.’

(Leo McKinstry Mail on Sunday)

‘Thorough and well-judged biography. This book’s strength is that, with the heavy assistance of Truemann’s surviving family, it fleshes out his early life in south Yorkshire.’

(The Sunday Times)

‘A trenchant portrait of its subject…a thorough and judicious book. Trueman’s flaws make it an uncomfortable read for devotees but to his credit the author has been as true to his trade as he is to his subject.’

(Rob Bagchi The Guardian)

‘Chris Waters deserves extremely high marks for his welcome, authentically honest new biography of Fred Trueman’ SPORTS BOOKS OF THE YEAR

(Frank Keating The Guardian)

‘Perceptive biography…Waters has done a good job in disentangling the man from the myths, many of which were eagerly promoted by Fiery Fred himself.’

(Independent on Sunday)

‘His multi-coloured life is given sharper focus by the meticulous research and unforgiving anecdotes of Chris Waters. The strengths of the book lie in the breadth of insights from those closest to Trueman, along with Waters’ own sharp conclusions.’

(The Cricketer)

‘The book will draw you in, make you chuckle and is not short on poignancy. Waters is balanced in his assessment of Trueman’s life. Exhaustive research is evident throughout.’


‘Trueman's latest biographer does a better job of fleshing out his subject than his more illustrious predecessors (John Arlott and Don Mosey). The result is the fullest picture yet of a great sportsman and all-too-human being.’


‘Waters sought to look beyond the brash, Jack-the-lad image that Trueman was once happy to live up to and find the truth. It was something even Arlott, for all his perceptiveness, did not quite manage.’


‘It will forever stand as the definitive attempt to set the record straight in relation to which Trueman stories are true, which are less than entirely accurate, and those that are apocryphal. Fred Trueman - The Authorised Biography is a terrific story. It is highly recommended.’


‘A fine, fair-minded and well-rounded portrait of great fast bowler. It is Waters’ probing into Fred’s background and psyche - what made him, and what made him tick - that gives his biography true distinction. A splendid biography, which it is hard to think will ever be bettered’ – Harry Mead

(Northern Echo)

‘The one which stood out to me was Fred Trueman. Don Mosey wrote a book about him in years gone by, John Arlott as well. Neither of them are anywhere near as good as this one.’ John Rawling - SPORTS BOOK OF THE YEAR

(BBC Radio 5 Live)

‘Honest and erudite portrait of the charismatic England and Yorkshire fast bowler’ - BOOKS OF THE YEAR

(The Cricketer)

‘One of the many virtues of Chris Waters’s thoughtful and painstakingly researched biography is that he examines the Trueman myths and dismantles most of them, but leaves a vivid portrait of a complex and contradictory character who was at heart surprisingly insecure.’

(The Oldie)

‘Engrossing and typically well written’

(Country Life)

‘Separating fact from fiction is difficult, but Waters has done an outstanding job and, to his credit, presents the player warts and all. Of the cricket biographies I have read in the past twelve months, this is the best by some distance. Fred Trueman was one of the greatest fast bowlers of all time and deserved a ‘proper’ biography. Chris Waters has undoubtedly delivered.’

'Waters may be in need of a longer mantelpiece'

(Richard Whitehead The Times)

'this wonderful book honours not only Trueman but also cricket, and Yorkshire in particular....the book has an elemental quality'

(Michael Henderson The Cricketer)

Superb life of the famous fast bowler, bristling with belligerence but also oddly vulnerable.

(Seven, The Sunday Telegraph)

A compelling portait of a sports legend

(Good Book Guide)

'A thorough, carefully researched and most elegantly written account of Trueman's life...a true page turner.'

(Sport in History)

About the Author

Chris Waters was born in Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, in 1973 and raised and educated in Lincoln. He entered journalism in 1995 at Berrow’s Worcester Journal before returning home to start his sports writing career on the Lincoln Chronicle. In 1999 he became cricket correspondent of the Nottingham Evening Post and, since 2004, has been cricket correspondent of the Yorkshire Post. He is the author of a biography of Fred Trueman, published by Aurum.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Bu**er Off", he said 22 Nov 2011
By ACB (swansea) TOP 50 REVIEWER
These are the words Freddie Trueman said to his foreman when sacked as a bricklayer. They were also the words he said to me after queuing at his car for his autograph as a 12 year old at Edgbaston in 1963 after he had taken 7-44 to defeat the mighty West Indies.This reflects Trueman. My boyhood hero. A great fast bowler. A legend. Loved by the public. A pain to the establishment and batsmen. Chris Waters's authorised biography plunges into these waters, often tempered and troubled. Trueman was a thorn in the side of the orthodox cricket institution. Spoke his mind, swore, bounced and hit the opposition as bowlers of his talent do today. Disliked snobbery and hypocrisy. As the middle of seven children, he moved quickly out of the pit, the predominant employment and social dominance of the time. Well-explained by his remaining family by the author. Played soccer for Lincoln City during his National Service. Wisden's Young cricketer of the year in 1952. Fell foul again in Barbados when he allegedly asked the High Commissioner to 'pass the salt Gunga Din', almost certainly untrue. Len Hutton was captain of that Caribbean tour (1953-4) and Fred never played with him again. He was sanctioned and only played three tests in the next three years. Rebuked for wearing brylcream (and rubbing on the ball) and told to remove wristbands that distracted the batsmen. Acccused of being a beer man,again part of the brash 'macho' image. He actually preferred a gin and tonic,in moderation. Laughable today. In 1964 he was the first man to take 300 test wickets. When asked if someone would do it again Fred replied "he'll be bloody tired." When Bob Willis did surpass the total he somewhat sarcastically said "and tell Fred I'm not tired". Read more ›
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ah'll sithee 13 Nov 2011
This is an enjoyable read. While it recycles extensively from John Arlott's 70's biography, it adds a lot of new material from interviews with family and team mates.

It has a cracking start and a very moving finish. The first chapter is the reunion of Trueman, Geoff Boycott, Brian Close and Ray Illingworth shortly before Trueman's death. They are almost a parody of themselves as they put the modern world to rights - modern cricketers can't bowl, the Yorkshire team of the 60s would have beaten the 2005-era Australians (?), reverse swing was invented by Yorkshiremen in the 1940s (??!) and Ant and Dec aren't a patch on Eric and Ernie (...fair enough).

It ends with a truly touching account of Fred's funeral that gives a feel of how badly everyone was feeling the loss of such a vibrant character. "Goodbye, my friend" - that really brought a lump to my throat.

In between it is efficent and even-handed, and sheds new light on the familiar incidents from Trueman's career.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The great man perfectly captured 7 Nov 2011
I loved this book. I normally take some time to read any book but I literally could not put this down. From Fred's humble beginnings in Maltby to a poignant funeral in North Yorkshire Chris Waters paints a truly evocative picture.Especially fascinating is the insight into the Yorkshire club and Freds relationship with Hutton Boycott together with his first tour to India. Unreservedly recommended.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A legendary Yorkshire hero 1 Dec 2011
For many people born outside the broad acres Fred Trueman was the embodiment of the archetypal Yorkshireman - straight talking, pig-headed, self-satisfied, intolerant, boorish and forever seeming to carry whole host of chips on his shoulder. There can be no doubt that, at times, Fred could be all of these but this book reveals him to be a complex character, with much more to him than would meet the eye. We read, for example, that when he heard that Geoff Boycott, a man Trueman didn't particularly like and had not been on speaking terms with for some time, had cancer he immediately buried the hatchet and offered him as much support as possible.

Although widely recognised as England's greatest ever fast bowler and the first cricketer to take 300 test wickets, he was also one of the first cricketing `bad-boys', his rough and ready attitude constantly rubbing up the games hierarchy, which in those days almost exclusively former public schoolboys, the wrong way. Although regularly more sinned against than sinning his perceived unruly behaviour caused him not to be picked for many test matches, a fact that he grew to bitterly resent because he believed that it robbed him from taking a great many more test wickets.

As this book points out, in later life he lost a little face due to his attitude towards modern day cricket and the abilities of the men that play it, even losing his place in radio's Test Match Special commentary team because of it. Despite this, one thing is certain, and that is that he will never be forgotten, particularly in his beloved Yorkshire.

Because of his eventful career and his colourful personality, Fred Trueman has been the subject of more books than most, and because of this there is not that much in this book that I haven't seen before, but it is still a highly entertaining biography and a fine remembrance of a true sporting legend.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A hard hero to have. 21 Aug 2012
As a kid,I can remember watching Trueman bowling on tv and being enthralled by the whole earthy glamour of his performance-the flapping shirt,unruly hair and the improbable athletic ease that characterised his run up.He made me want to be a fast bowler and,even though I never played for anything other than my grammar school house team,I've always loved bowling whenever I've had the chance,probably influenced by those early visions of the archetypal fast bowler.

The book that first taught me something about cricket was Arlott's "Fred" which is crammed with its author's poetic perception but obviously cannot deal with much of Trueman's later life and eschews a lot of the very early history of the man.I also remember it as being less frank about the off field behaviour of its subject than this book but I haven't looked at it for twenty years or so.

Had I noticed that this was "The Authorised Biography",I might have baulked at buying it on the assumption that it would lean towards the hagiographic but I would have been wrong because the tone here is generally pretty forthright on Fred's failings while preserving a rightfully admiring assessment of his abilities as a bowler.The author deals honestly with his subject's tendency to bombast and boorishness,especially during his later TMS years and makes a good fist of analysing what actually happened during Trueman's first tour to the West Indies on which a great deal of his notoriety and popularity stemmed.He also presents,without commentary,a few of the more outlandish claims made by Fred about his ancestry,amongst other things,which allow the reader to come to their own conclusions about the amount of trust they are able to place in Fred's adherence to truth.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Quite rightly this book won several awards - great stuff.
Published 28 days ago by MR K M BURNEY
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book but
I liked Fred a lot less after reading this book. Trevor Bailey recent biography had the opposite effect. Sad memory of a Great cricketer.
Published 1 month ago by D. Crapnell
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful read
I give this book the top mark because i thoroughly enjoyed it. As a biography unlike some others it told everything about the man. Good and bad. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Backrow Bluebird
3.0 out of 5 stars Present for my Father, a Yorkshireman
I think my father enjoyed this book, but then he would wouldn't he? Aye lad I suppose he darned well would!
Published 6 months ago by Gary
4.0 out of 5 stars A very funny and entertaining book.
It was a very good read.Entertaining and covered a period in cricket that i grew up with with a lot of insights into relationships that you would perhaps not have appreciated... Read more
Published 6 months ago by john goddard
5.0 out of 5 stars Fred Trueman.....a true legend.
This biography of the great Yorkshire and England cricketer is a fascinating read, for any one who is interested in cricket. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Rockinron100
5.0 out of 5 stars nice book
Have only delved into it recently as it is a present for my husband. the breadth of material and layout of the book look fine, but have not read it myself
Published 12 months ago by bingodress
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent account of "Fiery Fred's" life within and outside...
Paints a 'warts and all' account of the life and times of one of England's cricketing 'greats'. The nuts and bolts of cricket are interspersed with pathos and humour. Read more
Published 13 months ago by tonymills
5.0 out of 5 stars Enthralling read of a Titan
Absolutely entrancing story of a Legend, A must read for all Cricket fans. whether from Yorkshire or not? And I am not!
Published 13 months ago by malcolm cornford
5.0 out of 5 stars The Great Freddie - fondle remembered
Superb. A boyhood hero remembered, warts and all. We do not revere him as much as we should, a truly great bowler, he would have been unstoppable with todays central contracts.
Published 13 months ago by brian johnson
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