Growing up as a Watford fan in the 1980s, I remember Neville Southall as the chap who played in goal for our first ever top flight game and conceded one of the strangest goals I have ever seen when he caught the ball and stepped backwards over his own goal line. Other than that, I can’t remember him making too many mistakes as a ‘keeper. He half-heartedly argued his case to the linesman, but you could tell from his face he knew he messed up. He just misjudged the flight of the ball. It happens to the best.
My one abiding memory of him was in the same fixture a few years later. Watford striker collapsed in the box holding his head. The referee did absolutely nothing, but ‘Big Nev’ threw the ball out of play and gestured for the physio to come on. Nowadays it is the norm for this to happen, but it wasn’t in those days. Even as teenager, I saw it as terrifically honest sportsmanship. Watford were not as sporting and scored from the resulting throw-in!
Anyhow, my point is his story is written in a similar vein. Honest, to the point and not too whiny like some of the sport autobiographies I’ve read. The guy just liked playing football. Like so many loyal players, they are consigned to the scrapheap as soon as a manager deems them past their best. It is quite shocking really.
He lifts the lift on his half time ‘protest’ and why the Wales national team continued to fail at major tournaments, despite being able to field a world class goalie and in Ian Rush, the best finisher in the business.
It goes without saying that if you are a Welsh Evertonian, you’ll love this book, but anybody who loves football and respected what the ex-binman achieved in the game.