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My Life as a Hooker: When a Middle-Aged Bloke Discovered Rugby Paperback – 6 Feb 2012
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'On an Iron John odyssey in search of his own Iron Johnny Wilkinson, Steven Gauge reveals the hidden depths of commuterland manhood with charm, wit and intelligence and real insight. Whether you're going through a midlife crisis yourself, or seeking understanding of the delicate male psyche and its need to bond in mud, My Life as a Hooker is the only guide you need.'(Samira Ahmed, journalist and broadcaster)
'Steven Gauge's writing debut is far more accomplished than his hilarious efforts on the pitch. Painfully honest and self-deprecating, this story will appeal to anyone who's ever tried their hand at something they weren't terribly good at but still enjoyed every step of the way. The characters in the clubhouse are the stars of every amateur team up and down the country and will be familiar to anyone who has ever put on a club shirt. You want to join the team as much as turn the page. If this is what a midlife crisis does for you, I want one.'(Luke Benedict, rugby writer for the Daily Mail)
'littered with blokish anecdotes.'(Sports Book of the Month)
'thankfully, Gauge has submitted [sic] his midlife experiences to paper and come up with an entertaining meander through rugby clubs, drinking and, of course, rugby tours.'(The Nottingham Evening Post)
'engaging tale… a breezy, often witty account of one man's desire to do something different and reject the notion that, just because you're getting on a bit, it doesn't mean you're quite ready for a Zimmer frame.'(The Nottingham Evening Post)
'an open account of one man's mid-life crisis and also a second chance at sport... A heart-warming read with just the right amount of educated cynicism.'(St Christopher's Live Your Life e-zine)
'contains lessons that reach beyond the gates of Warlingham Rugby Club car park… Its underlying philosophy [is] of self-help, communal activity, tolerance, respect and beer… Well-written, funny and warm hearted. It opens with a great joke and builds seamlessly from there… Steven builds an entire philosophy of life into his 230 page narrative.'(Liberal Democrat Voice)
'a ruck-load of laughs… one of those rarities in sports publishing: a humorous book which is genuinely funny… [Gauge] is able to recount in full, life in the casual nether reaches of British sport… made me laugh out loud.'(Sports Journalists' Association)
'a sports book that celebrates an unfit 40something novice player in the third worse team in Surrey… autobiographical traipse through a rough and tumble approach to a mid-life crisis.'(Inside Croydon)
' funny yet so true'(Rugby World)
About the Author
Steven Gauge was introduced to rugby at school, but failed to break out of the 4th XV. He returned to the game aged 35, writing about the experience in My Life as a Hooker, which was shortlisted for the British Sports Book Awards. He still plays occasionally for Warlingham Rugby Club, in Surrey, when they are short of a front row.
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What does a man do when in sight of middle age and with a successful career, things start to get harder? The answer seems to try something different, some more sensible than others......It can be a radical career change, taking up a completely new hobby, becoming an Open University student, or going in for tattoing and wearing leather...
Thus it was with Steven Gauge who at the not so tender age of 35 took up......playing rugby
In the professional game you are hanging up your rugby boots at this age, such are its demands and I have to admit I wince at times when I watch a game and see them go right into each other or ferociously engage in the scrums.....It really is a game for the fit
Things are however quite different it seems in the lower leagues of the amateur game where you have some seriously unfit men playing rugby.......a game for 'all sorts and conditions of men' of all ages, and sizes and getting fitter into the bargain, and making good friends on the way. So you're well into your 50s, 3 stone overweight, and amble from scrum to scrum? Not a problem! somewhere a team will have a place for you
Even at this level though, rugby demands a certain amount of commitment, with two training sessions a week and a Saturday game
On the way Steven has such a lot of fun... and pain. He gets hurt,he has to leave the field on account of injury, someone takes a punch at him, but then again he finds he has made friends for life and revels in the camaraderie that this sport is famous for
It is very funny but with some serious undercurrents. As with one of the other reviewers I started caring about Steven and the motley group that make up Warlingham's fourth team, for them to make a good go at things.I was laughing with them and not at them.Their game improves, our hero becomes captain, and his ability to inspire loyalty in his team-mates becomes very clear and beyond doubt
I could not but empathise with Steven's experience on the committee - and having been on committees I can assure him that it's not only sports teams that have this problem. I was on a committee myself when I was his age (I'm now in my 60s) for many years but I was glad when I was able to step down. Unfortunately they're a necessary evil....!
Steven communicates the sheer joy and exuberance of rugby in his book and I for one couldn't put it down....I won't even try to pick out bits I really enjoyed it would be a shame to waste the others. He obviously loves his rugby and I hope he doesn't hang up his rugby boots quite yet......
Here he is on how to design code words for the line-out, where the first letter of the word gives the key: "Calls like Psychology, Knife and Pneumatic are for obvious reasons best avoided. For some reason also the word Eight seems to confuse props who can't get their head round the idea that a number can start with a letter."
Here he is on a down-in-one drinking of a yard of ale in the bar. He confesses he's even worse at drinking than rugby: "My only concern was that it was possibly going to take me ages to knock back this beer and there was a real risk that the rest of the bar might get a little bored waiting for me to gently sip my way to the bottom of the yard. There is only one thing worse than being humiliated in the middle of a bar with everyone staring and chanting at you, and that is being ignored as you are being humiliated in the middle of the bar, with everyone going back to their original conversation."
Here he is on his true rugby gift, the one thing harder to do than the art of tackling: "Instead I had perfected the delicate art of `not tackling'. This is a far more intricate, technical performance than you might imagine. First of all you have to make sure than whenever possible you are nowhere near any of the opposition players running with the ball. This requires a careful reading of the game and an occasional, confident jog to the opposite side of the pitch to avoid any likely forthcoming attack."
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