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on 10 March 2014
There can’t be many people in Ireland that don’t have an opinion of some sort about Eamon Dunphy. His football punditry is a breath of fresh air from the banal nonsense we’re used to seeing on televised coverage of sport. The only thing about such forthright honesty is that you’re almost certainly going to rub people up the wrong way.

He’s probably most deeply embedded in the national consciousness for his performance on RTE’s coverage of the 1990 Word Cup. The nation was riding on a wave of euphoria with the joy of holding their own in the tournament but Eamon was critical of the Route One football Jack Charlton was favouring.

The price for this honesty was his ten-year-old daughter being chased indoors while trying to celebrate David O’Leary’s winning penalty against Romania and his son being roughed up in a disco on the night of the homecoming. Such incidents involving the people he loved weighed heavily on Eamon and he himself faced incidents with people shaking his car and refusing to take him in taxis.

He’s a man that expresses deep gratitude for small incidents of kindness from people that sought to protect him from such things. He comes from humble beginnings, raised in a single room for four people with no hot water or electricity. He describes a time when people were living in fear and poverty while traders and those in power ripped them off before trying to wash away their sins by receiving Holy Communion of a Sunday.

He’s full of stories about his early experiences playing football in the local field and in the Dump and the wise youths that took Eamon under their wing. Summer proved to be lonely time with Eamon wandering around with little more than a ball for company, the other lads having made for the seaside or the cinema. Such things weren’t affordable to Eamon but the Drumcondra area is the source of a lot of joy with a good school, a local library and people to kick ball with.

He’s got a real distaste for Official Ireland and when he moves to England to play for Manchester United he’s more content in England than he was back in Ireland, delighted that he never bought into any of the anti-English beliefs.

His career takes him to clubs like Millwall and Reading and he proves to be a voice of dissent in most of them. He ruffles a fair few feathers when he expresses his views against apartheid and wears a black armband in the aftermath of Bloody Sunday. There’s a soap opera over a beef and pay suring his time at Reading.

When his football career comes to an end he’s fast-tracked into journalism with work at the Sunday Independent and Tribune. He proves to be every bit as honest in this role with the Blazers at the FAI and lauded politicians like John Hume being heavily criticised. He wants to lift the lid on the clowns that were running Irish soccer but also say his piece about the person in the manager’s seat. This sees him earning himself a glass of wine in the face from Eoin Hand and Jack Charlton exploding at him at his very first press conference.

He puts the account of his life forward beautifully and resists getting involved in any long rants. It makes for a very entertaining read and an invaluable insight into the mind of a unique figure. Whether you love him or hate him I think you could find much to enjoy in this.
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on 10 October 2013
I am not sure if I am well qualified to review this book as I am not Irish, have only visited Dublin and have no knowledge of the Irish political or newspaper scene all of which feature extensively in Dunphy's memoirs.

I know of him simply as a skilful, slightly built midfield play-maker at York, Millwall and Reading who I watched in my youth and then as the author of a groundbreaking account of the angst and reality of being a footballer. "Only a Game" changed the way I looked at the sport and opened my eyes as to how footballers thought and were treated ,generally as replaceable serfs.

His new book is again beautifully written and indeed paints elegiac pictures of his poor but happy childhood. It then provides one of the best written accounts I have read about a football career and how he served at the whim and behest of a variety of megalomaniac managers and chairmen.

Not without learning pains he then reinvents himself as a writer and journalist where he is not slow to castigate cant and hypocrisy wherever he finds it.

There is much here about his feud with Jack Charlton who he thinks brought Irish football back into the dark ages despite his success.

The book ends abruptly in 1990 so there is hopefully more to come and more gaps to fill.

Whilst as I said a proportion of this book was lost on me, more than enough remained for me to luxuriate over - a lovely, lyrical and thought provoking read that demonstrated Dunphy against the world and how he sometimes but not always came out on top.
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on 23 February 2014
I think eamon can be a bit contradictory and a bit self important but still enjoy his overall passion.On the whole an enjoyable read.
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on 1 January 2015
First class read. This is certainly a very different football biography than the reader normally expects from a retired football professional. Eamon Dunphy writes with understanding and thought. Yes he was a professional footballer gracing the stage of several football clubs, and yes he is a professional journalist who writes about football, particularly Irish football, but he is not afraid to open the can of worms which is the age old gripe of football hierarchy, the powers that be are in it for themselves, nobody else. Eamon Dunphy it would appear has become an 'enfant terrible' of the Irish football structure, a whistle-blower who reveals all the ills of the sport, but also expresses his views.
This book is a must read for anyone interested in football, and how it works, and as a bonus a brief and general insight into Irish politics, and how that has worked over the last thirty years
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on 14 May 2015
Surprisingly entertaining and readable account of Eamon Dunphy's life on and off the football field. Was hooked from the start with the stories of poverty stricken childhood in north side Dublin right through early footballing days at home and in England before dropping down through the divisions and returning to Ireland in the late 70s. A prickly character on a TV screen Dunphy appears even apologetic in places as he embarked on a media career which saw him cross swords with various political characters and Jackie Charlton. Well worth the read, likeable guy.
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on 11 May 2014
A very good read but ends abruptly. Does not cover his radio days. Very little about his personal life during and after his playing days. Worth the read.
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on 23 November 2013
Great read one of the books of the year so far.i would recommend it to non sports fans too .
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on 19 August 2014
I'm a fan of Dunphy on tv, but this book is just a rant about all facets of life in ireland. He just seems to be one of these people who have worked in England for a time and now Ireland and most of the irish are just not up to scratch.
You could always leave Eamonn. You seem to have turned into one of these bluffer's you're always on about.
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on 24 December 2013
Let's get the facts straight before I start: I bought this book because Eamon Dunphy was a gifted player for my hometown team Reading in the 1970s and because he wrote an intelligent and honest column for the Reading Evening Post each week. I also met him a couple of times after games when my sister and I used to do the classic young football fan thing and wait after a game to spot our heroes. I have followed his career ever since, buying his biographies of U2 and Matt Busby and, of course, the original book 'Only A Game?' which was perhaps the first book by a professional footballer to 'tell it like it is' for the unglamorous lower division footballer.

Now for this new book - an autobiography of a fascinating life written by an accomplished writer. The reason for reviewing this book (it's my first online review) is that I wonder whether this excellent book will suffer from falling between two stools; ignored by the football fan because he wasn't a big name player with a top division club, missed by people who aren't interested in footballer's biographies.

I'll forgive him for only spending seven pages on his two years at Reading because this is a book with a much wider range than a potted football career. Dunphy tells a familiar tale of a financially poor but loving family upbringing, interlaced with politics, sport, injustice and redemption. Spotted by Manchester United he spends five years in youth and reserve teams before leaving for a career in the lower divisions, but gives us a training ground perspective on some of the legends of the game including Best, Law, Charlton and Giles in the aftermath of the Busby Babes and Munich.

There is politics, journalism, religion and football, with characteristically fierce battles over all of them. In fact, 'fierce' is a fine description of Dunphy's character, as well as stubborn, awkward, principled and honest. He managed to cause trouble wherever he went, including his two years at Reading which ended with the Board of Directors instructing the manager to sell him, then charting an unconventional path as a football writer who strayed into politics and religion, and a TV pundit who was almost lynched for criticising the national team. All well written, clear-eyed and self-critical book by a true original. Surprise yourself and buy it, and if it leads you to more of his books, then great!
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on 17 March 2014
The football fans pre mid 90s had much more in common with the players back then. Now the players are alienated somewhat from the fans because of the lottery style weekly wages a lot of them get these days . TV money, oligarchs, sheiks and huge sponsorship have changed the way we view football for better or worse .
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