Norman was one of my United heroes as a kid. Born in Belfast in 1965, he came up through United's youth ranks, and made his first-team debut in 1981. Inevitably labelled the new George Best, he started life in the first team as a forward before being converted to a midfielder. He became the youngest scorer in a Wembley Final, the youngest scorer in a F.A. Cup Final and broke Pele's record as the youngest player to appear in the World Cup Finals. A player who fought for everything, he was also capable of scoring some outstanding goals. His winner in the 1985 F.A. Cup Final against Everton remains one of my favourites. His reputed membership of United's hard-drinking inner-circle only endeared him even further, in a loveable rogue kind of way. Surely he had enough raw material to write an absorbing book ?
The raw material may have been there, but - as much as I wanted to like it - I found the book very disappointing. The title itself is something of a misnomer. He doesn't just focus on his time at United, but also covers his time with Everton and Northern Ireland's international team. Ordinarily, this wouldn't be a problem, but the book only contains 127 pages ! As a result, it gives no real insight into Norman's life at as a professional footballer and is really little more than a series of very short match reports. There's no sense of what it was like to play in these games, no indication of the preparations, the pre-match build-up or the post-match celebrations / wakes. Matches like the European Cup Winners Cup ties against Barcelona and Juventus surely deserved better coverage than they received. The same could be said of Norman's account of the 1985 Cup Final. While the match wasn't an all-time classic, Kevin Moran made history by becoming the first player to be sent off in a Cup Final and Norman himself scored the winner. The hard-drinking inner-circle is only vaguely referred to...I'll let that one pass, though, despite my curiosity. And if all that wasn't bad enough, the style of writing made the book a bit difficult in places. Sentences regularly featured two or three ands or buts, making it difficult to read at times, and there are a few mistakes here and there. I can only assume there wasn't much of a proof-reading or editing job done. On a more positive note, some of the photos included in the book were interesting - I've never seen a Cup Winners Medal in detail, for example.
All in all, though, a disappointing book - especially when held in comparison to the books written by Brian McClair or Garry Nelson.