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The question might easily be asked: who is Garry Nelson?
To call him a nobody is unfair, but he has never reached the heights of the Premiership as a footballer, nor was he ever going to in all reality.
As one of the 'cloggers', a journeyman as the title of the book would say, he has all the same worries about the rest of us - bringing up a family, making a living etc; but also has all the additional problems of being a professional sportsman.
As one of those not in the top bracket of wage earning and coming to the end of his playing days, every little knock has the possibility that it could end his playing career, and he is working on what he can do to get by after he has finished.
Of course this is a few years old now, and an addendum is that he is now working for the Professional Footballer's Association; but what comes from Left Foot Forward is the confirmation that he is as honest as the day is long -- and this will undoubtedly hold him in good stead in this role.
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on 23 December 2001
A great book that really does deliver everything said on the back. There's not too much to say that hasn't been said already, but it's a great diary of a season that really does have everything. A crippling injury, and goalscoring streak, contract worries, times when nothing goes right. And his everyday life of his normal family, as well as his wider, Everton supporting family. Reading this feels as if you know Garry, and as soon as I finished reading it, I was desperately trying to find out if he had a follow-up, to know what happened to him next. He describes other footballing matters as well as clips from his past, and it's interesting to note that the highlight of his career, the best moment of his football was the exact day I was born....
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on 21 June 2000
I generally try to steer clear of the usual drippy "look at my perm" footballer books but this was recommended to me & didn't fail to deliver it's promise. A well written, honest and humorous portrayal of everyday professional sport. I liked the diary format and was left wanting to know more when it was finished, I felt like I had got to know Garry a bit and liked his down to earth modest attitude (rest assured he was a class act). As a follower of the Mighty Greens I particularly enjoyed his graphic description of that key goal for Argyle! All together now "One Garry Nelson" "Theres only one........
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on 13 September 2007
Written in diary form,this is Garry Nelson's account of the 1994-95 season,playing for Charlton Athletic in the second tier of English football,the old Division One.
Written with witt and intelligence,Garry paints an accurate picture of what it is like to be a professional footballer outside of the glamour and lifestyle of that of a Premiership star.
The long journeys,the injuries,being out of the team and playing with the 'stiffs',contract issues,all covered in some detail here and you learn more about what it is really like being a professional footballer with this read than you would reading an autobiography of some superstar International that is made for life playing for one of the 'big boys'.
The only problem is,if like me you like to read one of these books that dishes the dirt and tells of training ground bust ups and fall outs with managers ect,then this may dissappoint as Garry Nelson is far too intelligent for any of that sort of stuff.
A good read and worthy of it's shortlisting for the William Hill sports book of the year and will appeal to most football fans,especially those of Charlton Athletic.
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Just as "The Glory Game" has persisted beyond 1972, so Nelson's great book, reread nearly twenty years later, retains all its qualities. Nelson has one advantage over Hunter Davies - he was a footballer himself, and however good Davies observational skills, he could never inhabit the skin and the visceral sense of fear and the challenges to self esteem that came with it.
Nelson's talent for dispassionate analysis (including self analysis) makes this text a very different proposition from Eamon Dunphy's "Only a Game?" which is heavily coloured by that books authors, at times, less measured approach. In my view, Nelsons book far surpasses Dunphy's, however revered the latter is.
Ask me to choose between this and Davies? I can't. One thing is clear, whatever the prize, they are tied for first.
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on 23 September 2001
Interesting because Garry Nelson is not famous footballer (I had not heard of him until I read this book). It's part diary of a season of a first division football team (which Charlton were when this was published) and part autobiographical. It's very well written and funny in places. Highly recommended.
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on 22 October 1998
An excellent read. Shearer, Gascoigne, Bergcamp and Petit maybe the players that take the plaudits and the rewards of football, but this is life in reality away from the spotlight and is the day to day grind of the non glamour player. Whilst Ian Rush pulls in a fortune in one nights testimonial, players like Nelson can only dream of the interest from that night in a year.
If you want the true grit of the footballer in the lower leagues, you cannot get any grittier than garry Nelson's book.
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on 9 July 2012
Garry Nelson was a journeyman football coming to the end of his career when he wrote this book, and it was partly his way of coming to terms with the end of this stage in his life. Written in diary form, it charts a season at Charlton Athletic in Division One, then the second tier in English football. Nelson recognises that he is not one of the most gifted footballers and that he is not in the top level of strikers like Eric Cantona who played football in his era. What we get is a warts-and-all account of life away from the limelight of the new Premier League, with stories about the YTS trainees who are let go, the players who struggle for a place in the first team, the behind-the-scenes disagreements with management. This is great snapshot of life away from the top flight.
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on 26 February 2000
really good read. You don't have to be a Charlton fan, just a passing knowledge of football will do to enjoy it. Beckham might capture the headlines, married to a pop star and all that, but thisis what being a footballer is all about. Read it.
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on 22 March 2013
Really good book, if you like football and autobiographies etc then this is an excellent read. For £2 or whatever it is, well worth the entertainment.
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