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My Life as a Hooker: When a Middle-Aged Bloke Discovered Rugby [Paperback]

Steven Gauge
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
RRP: £8.99
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Book Description

6 Feb 2012
Steven Gauge’s response to an impending midlife crisis didn’t involve piercings, tattoos or leather trousers – instead, he decided to take up rugby, and made a number of important discoveries. First, that in this ultimate contact sport, class divisions melt away in the presence of rugby's own eternal divide: the Forwards and the Backs. Secondly, though biting is generally frowned upon, it does occasionally take place and can be discouraged by applying Deep Heat to the ears. And fi nally, turning up on time with your kit is far more important than knowing what to do with the ball if it ever reaches you. By the end of his fi rst few seasons, Steven had cracked his nose and various other parts of his anatomy – but he had cracked the game too, and found a place in the club as Captain of the Fourths.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Summersdale (6 Feb 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849532117
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849532112
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 304,607 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'On an Iron John odyssey in search of his own Iron Johnny Wilkinson, Steven Gauge reveals the hidden depths of commuterland manhood with charm, wit and intelligence and real insight. Whether you're going through a midlife crisis yourself, or seeking understanding of the delicate male psyche and its need to bond in mud, My Life as a Hooker is the only guide you need.' (Samira Ahmed, journalist and broadcaster)

'Steven Gauge's writing debut is far more accomplished than his hilarious efforts on the pitch. Painfully honest and self-deprecating, this story will appeal to anyone who's ever tried their hand at something they weren't terribly good at but still enjoyed every step of the way. The characters in the clubhouse are the stars of every amateur team up and down the country and will be familiar to anyone who has ever put on a club shirt. You want to join the team as much as turn the page. If this is what a midlife crisis does for you, I want one.' (Luke Benedict, rugby writer for the Daily Mail)

'littered with blokish anecdotes.' (Sports Book of the Month)

'thankfully, Gauge has submitted [sic] his midlife experiences to paper and come up with an entertaining meander through rugby clubs, drinking and, of course, rugby tours.' (The Nottingham Evening Post)

'engaging tale… a breezy, often witty account of one man's desire to do something different and reject the notion that, just because you're getting on a bit, it doesn't mean you're quite ready for a Zimmer frame.' (The Nottingham Evening Post)

'an open account of one man's mid-life crisis and also a second chance at sport... A heart-warming read with just the right amount of educated cynicism.' (St Christopher's Live Your Life e-zine)

'contains lessons that reach beyond the gates of Warlingham Rugby Club car park… Its underlying philosophy [is] of self-help, communal activity, tolerance, respect and beer… Well-written, funny and warm hearted. It opens with a great joke and builds seamlessly from there… Steven builds an entire philosophy of life into his 230 page narrative.' (Liberal Democrat Voice)

'a ruck-load of laughs… one of those rarities in sports publishing: a humorous book which is genuinely funny… [Gauge] is able to recount in full, life in the casual nether reaches of British sport… made me laugh out loud.' (Sports Journalists' Association)

'a sports book that celebrates an unfit 40something novice player in the third worse team in Surrey… autobiographical traipse through a rough and tumble approach to a mid-life crisis.' (Inside Croydon)

' funny yet so true' (Rugby World)

'hilarious take on a season with Warlingham 4ths. Warm and witty' (Rugby World)

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
If laughter is the best medicine then this book should be available on the NHS. It is a joy: very funny, hugely likeable and tells a cracking good story. In a friendly, witty and engaging style, Steven Gauge takes us on a rollicking journey from his first days on the rugby pitch to his hard-won heyday as Captain of the Fourths. This is the Dad's Army of sports books. I found myself caring about this motley crew and willing them to hang in there and stop losing.

Describing himself as a hobbit, as he is short but determined, Gauge is totally honest about both triumphs and disasters. Gauge is a human cartoon: repeatedly flattened, he never gives up. He involves us by giving advice, too: `Once you are on the ground it is probably better to stay there for a little while...'

Unlike a cartoon, Gauge gets hurt. Yet like a hobbit, he is brave. Confused, but determined to help his team to win, or at least lose better, he decides to read books on sports psychology, after struggling to give a good half-time pep talk: `As I began to ramble, I realised I hadn't the faintest idea why we were losing...'

"If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly," wrote G.K.Chesterton. This book is a timely reminder in a world obsessed with perfection and celebrity of what life-enhancing good times you can have doing something for fun. At the same time, how a hobbit shapes up as a rugby captain makes a great story. Watching him try hard to get better is hilarious and sometimes unexpectedly moving. And if you've ever had to recruit people for a team, the chapter on 'Captain's Poker' will strike you as inspired.

This book makes you want to turn off the tv and run around in the mud. Then again, sitting in a chair and laughing this much is a pretty good workout.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fun read, good topic, well written 25 Dec 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
A highly amusing book. Whether you know the subject because you've 'been there', or you empathise as middle-aged man looking for something, or are just wanting to be entertained there is something in this for you. There are so many quips and true-isms; one of my favourites early in the book spoke of others' lack of interaction:

"In the modern world it seems far more socially acceptable to burn off the calories in a world of your own, iPod strapped to your upper arm and headphones blocking your ears as you pound away on a treadmill in an expensive gym. In these soulless temples to body facism, woe betide anyone who tries to start a conversation or offer to buy a round of drinks."

The time when the tour caught up with S-club 7 was also good value ...........

I too was an inbetweener who learned a lot of life's lessons in a rugby club, whether how/when to buy a round of drinks to why it's unwise to pick on a scrum half who has his two props beside him (wait till later - obviously). Now I'm wondering whether to return as a silver scrummager......probably best not to, or is it?

I especially liked the motto of the 4ths, and the techniques of captain's poker were so, so true. Enjoyable passages included the exchange of text messages as the captain worked hard to assemble the Clapham boys, the Inbetweeners, and those simply hiding from Saturday afternoon shopping.

Other rugby books seem to focus on drinking and the sometimes juvenile pranks that some get up to; full credit to Gaugey for the quality of the writing and for showing that there is a strong, grown-up, undercurrent to the sport.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars That's real rugby for you! 27 July 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Athough i have never played with Mr Gauge (in any sense), I am like him a Warlingham man through and through. not only has he captured the essence of that great club (home to the illustrious C Robshaw, K Traynor & Kay Wilson amongst others) but also our game in all it's wonderful facets. Well done, and thank you.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Local rugby club but a national story 11 Mar 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
A really fun read and highly recommended.
While Gauge focuses on one team in one club, rugby players all over Britain will be able to relate to the characters in the book.
There's a reason that you play for a rugby club and not a rugby team, and this book explains why more eloquently than I ever could.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Settle Down for a Good Read 20 Jan 2013
By jf
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This was both an interesting and entertaining read not only because it concentrates on the "other" end of the sporting pyramid but because it is written by a bloke who comes into rugby very late in life and so his perspectives on the game (which are taken for granted by those who have played since boyhood) are a bit left-field and apposite. Anyone with a love of the game or of sport generally is guaranteed to be amused well by the book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Keep calm and play rugby! 27 Feb 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Be very careful where you read this book.......it had me laughing out loud at times as I followed the fortunes of Warlingham's Fourth XV.....!
What does a man do when in sight of middle age and with a successful career, things start to get harder? The answer seems to try something different, some more sensible than others......It can be a radical career change, taking up a completely new hobby, becoming an Open University student, or going in for tattoing and wearing leather...
Thus it was with Steven Gauge who at the not so tender age of 35 took up......playing rugby
In the professional game you are hanging up your rugby boots at this age, such are its demands and I have to admit I wince at times when I watch a game and see them go right into each other or ferociously engage in the scrums.....It really is a game for the fit
Things are however quite different it seems in the lower leagues of the amateur game where you have some seriously unfit men playing rugby.......a game for 'all sorts and conditions of men' of all ages, and sizes and getting fitter into the bargain, and making good friends on the way. So you're well into your 50s, 3 stone overweight, and amble from scrum to scrum? Not a problem! somewhere a team will have a place for you
Even at this level though, rugby demands a certain amount of commitment, with two training sessions a week and a Saturday game
On the way Steven has such a lot of fun... and pain. He gets hurt,he has to leave the field on account of injury, someone takes a punch at him, but then again he finds he has made friends for life and revels in the camaraderie that this sport is famous for
It is very funny but with some serious undercurrents.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Well worth a read for an aging lower level player. Very true to reality.
Published 8 days ago by John o connell
4.0 out of 5 stars A warrior
A good read being from an amateur rugby league background I can equate to a lot of the humour . The game of either code would not exist without people like Steven Gauge. Read more
Published 15 days ago by Lupsetbull
5.0 out of 5 stars Takes me back to my playing days!
A light hearted, funny and accurate reflection of club rugby. Flew through this book and a joy for any former players of this generation!
Published 1 month ago by C. Inglis
5.0 out of 5 stars mr5512
Rugby as I remember it back when I was playing and before I took up the whistle to try and give something back to the sport that has given me so much. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Mike R.
4.0 out of 5 stars An everyman club rugby player's story. It's not ground ...
An everyman club rugby player's story. It's not ground breaking but it's a well written insight into how the majority of us have played rugby, far from HQ's pristine field.
Published 2 months ago by sam_acw
5.0 out of 5 stars Why rugby is better than football....
Exactly what lower team rugby is like at every club in the country. A must read for every 'grass roots' senior player!
Published 2 months ago by Michael P Murray
5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable read
I enjoyed this book. It is easy to read. The story rolls along and is punctuated with some really funny lines
Published 4 months ago by John Collier
5.0 out of 5 stars What a great book
I did something similar a few years ago and this account rings true and brought back some great memories. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Liam John Bellamy
5.0 out of 5 stars Very amusing...
A really enjoyable light hearted read. To me it also had a feel good factor about it which made me want to carry on reading. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Nick Rudkin
5.0 out of 5 stars Every ruby player should read this.
Although my title is aimed at rugby players and ex rugby players (like myself) it would still be enjoyable to non rugby players, especially soccer players as they would be... Read more
Published 10 months ago by David Gray
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