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Beyond The Boot Camps Paperback – 4 Mar 2010
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That said Ridley is - as ever - very readable (both in his own right and while translating the thoughts of Steve Claridge into English) and we get a jolly romp through the last 5 years of Claridge's career as age catches up with even this fitness fanatic and his playing career peters out on 1008 games in the lower reaches of the non-league pyramid . At the same time his media career takes off (while still maintaining he could cut it in the championship at the age of 40+ given the opportunity, despite all the indications on the playing field to the contrary). Actually there was one more game to be had after the book was finished, a noble one off return to try to help Weymouth out of a financial/football mess in late 2009, a 5-1 defeat as it turned out although this was a typical result for Weymouth at the time and Steve was in no way responsible.
On the subject of Weymouth, there are a few small differences in this rendering of events from Ridley's earlier Floodlit Dreams, which covered the Weymouth player-managerial part of this book in more detail.
All in all though, an excellent read, recommended for fans of lower league football, Steve Claridge or the game generally.
He gives us a look into the real world of football away from the pampered lifestyle of the premier league.
this is a must for all followers of football in the lower leagues and true football fans.
I strongly reccomend this book.
Like many sports autobiographies, this is co-written, but not in the usual way. Claridge's co-writer is Ian Ridley, chairman at Weymouth when Claridge was manager. Each chapter has an introduction by Ridley, which provides a fascinating counterpoint to Claridge's version of events. Clearly they are two very different personalities, and Ridley doesn't conceal their professional disagreements, but they have a strong regard for each other. Ridley's chapters also include interview with many other football personalities, notably Dean Windass, who sees Claridge as a bit of a nutter, but (as Ridley says) Windass has "a nice line in pot and kettle comparisons."
On his time as a manager, Claridge pulls few punches about his fiery relationships with two of his other chairmen, Milan Mandaric and Theo Paphitis. He also has a healthy sarcasm for directors who don't understand the game (Len Shackleton would love the story about the director who asked Claridge why he wasn't playing 4-4-3!)
Claridge is frank about the scale of his gambling addiction (one of the scourges of footballers with too much spare cash and too much spare time), but we gather that the main reason he carried on playing so long was for love of the game, not like some famous players who have had to continue to stave off the bailiffs.
There are several amusing anecdotes about life on and off the pitch, not least the occasion when Claridge, reluctantly dragged along to a house of ill fame by a team-mate, "made his excuses and left"!
Fascinating reading for anyone interested in the English professional game; essential for any afficionados of the layers below the Premiership.
However i was a little disappointed. The book is interesting but that is about it. There are several insights into some interesting characters, and events from Steves Journey from the higher eschelons of his sport to the lowest reaches, but nonetheless it is only interesting at best.
If you want a really hard hitting, all laid bare life story, then Paul Mcgrath, Tony Cascarino or Stan Collymore are the best of the bunch.
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