Customer Review

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and deserved treatment, 8 Jan 2012
This review is from: Fred Trueman: The Authorised Biography (Hardcover)
I'll say one thing about the Nottingham Evening Post - it has produced some terrific writers. First Duncan Hamilton makes a worthy contribution to cricket literature with a brilliant (a word I use wisely) biography of Harold Larwood, then along comes Chris Waters, now cricket correspondent of the Yorkshire Post, to produce one that is almost as good on the Yorkshire and England legend Fred Trueman.

"Fiery Fred" has spawned a cottage industry of books over the years, some supposedly by his own pen but ghost-written and others by authors who in many cases simply rehashed old tales, many of them apocryphal. Such is the problem for the author wanting to do something new, as most fans feel they know the subject already.

But do they? I'm reminded of Emmott Robinson of Yorkshire, who, like Trueman, became larger than life thanks to the anecdotes recounted by Neville Cardus over many articles and books. What did Robinson think of Cardus? "Ah've nivver met 'im" he said, to the disappointment of many, including me. Robinson's sage comments and dry wit were effectively the creation of a masterly, but ultimately only inventive writer, fact and fiction merging into one with the latter taking over like a cricketing Jekyll and Hyde.

Separating the fact from fiction is difficult, but Waters has done an outstanding job and, to his credit, presents the player warts and all. He was a man of contrasts, capable of the most earthy talk yet protective of his children if such language was used in their presence. He was a coal miner's son who became a Conservative supporter and latterly claimed to be the son of a "countryman", something at odds with the gruff northern working class persona that was cultivated by player and media alike. Through numerous interviews and comments Trueman can be seen as both a character and wit, as well as a boorish man; a player of brilliance yet with a perennial chip on his shoulder. Never mind that he was the first player to 300 Test wickets - if it wasn't for those so-and-sos in charge he'd have been the first to 400, maybe more.

He polarised the dressing room for sure. While most loved him as a player and valued his contributions, they were less sure of the man. He was appallingly treated by his county, but was hardly alone in this, as many left Yorkshire over the years through shocking man-management, more in keeping with the nineteenth century. He dabbled with the northern club circuit as an earthy comedian and made an ill-considered comeback for Derbyshire, when, as I remember too well, the spirit was willing but the flesh was sadly weak. Fred ended up on Test Match Special, where he could be fascinating and ascerbic one minute then frustrating the next, his regular "I don't know what's going on out there" somewhat at odds with the role of an expert paid to know just that.

If you didn't get Chris Waters book when it first came out and didn't find it in your stocking at Christmas, I would urge you to go into your local book shop and buy it, or get online and do so. If times are hard, get down to your local library and see if they can get it for you, because of the cricket autobiographies and biographies I have read in the past twelve months this is the best by some distance. Fred Trueman was one of the greatest fast bowlers of all time and deserved a "proper" biography. Chris Waters has undoubtedly delivered.

He has also set himself quite a challenge with this first book, as it will take some following. I look forward to reading his next one immensely.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 9 Mar 2012 17:32:29 GMT
J. E. Holmes says:
F S Trueman was anything but boorish.

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Mar 2012 19:50:18 GMT
Peakfan says:
There's quite a few people feel he was, several within the pages of the book. Its all opinion...
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