Only a Game?: The Diary of a Professional Footballer Paperback – 15 Oct 1987
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About the Author
Eamon Dunphy was a professional footballer in the 1960s and early 1970s, with Manchester United and then mainly Millwall, also winning 23 caps for Ireland. He subsequently wrote columns on both football and current events, presented on radio for several stations including Today FM, Newstalk and RTÉ Radio 1, and regularly appeared as a football analyst on Raidió Teilifís Éireann (RTÉ). He has also written a biography of Matt Busby and ghost-wrote the autobiography of Roy Keane. He lives in Dublin, and describes himself as having been "a good player, not a great player".
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Top Customer Reviews
Dunphy was a much-travelled, hardworking and relatively skilful midfielder. Only A Game is his account, in diary form, of the 1973/4 season at Millwall, then in the old second division. The season began with great optimism as Dunphy, realizing that he had not too many years left in football, saw this as perhaps his final opportunity to achieve something significant in his career. His account of how the season quickly turned sour is compelling, and if the end to the ‘story’ is in some ways unsatisfying it is because this is not a fairytale but a slice of reality.
Throughout it is clear that Dunphy has literary aspirations, and he is indeed a good writer. Above all, however, the book has all the best qualities of a personal diary: honesty, frankness, occasional contradictions, and immediacy. Only A Game provides a particularly fascinating insight into a time when professional footballers earned similar salaries to the rest of us, when the game was not awash with money, glamour and foreign stars, and when the ‘hard men’ ruled and matches frequently descended into muddy pitched battles – in this respect the book has genuine historical value. Dunphy is very good when discussing the nature of his profession, and he brilliantly conveys the unglamorous side to the game. As an antidote to the numerous showbiz biographies of footballers, Only A Game is perfect.Read more ›
He takes the abortive season he spent with Millwall in 1973 and infuses his account with a career's worth of understanding. How a coach can lose the respect of the team, how the manager is weakened by having to accommodate a captain who is fundamentally uncommitted, how the need to impose oneself undercuts the ability to play to one's potential.
Yes, it's lots about football: the mundane details of training, the changing room, the team bus etc, but the acuity of his observation breathes life into it. Moreover, though his subject is footballers, the book has to say has much about any group you may be part of, any office, any team, any group of people. Why respect comes and goes; how a new entrant changes the dynamics of the group; what it's like to go from being near the end of a career to over the hill, and what it's like never to make it at all.
Dunphy is compelling in his insight, deeply sympathetic in his analysis, and - while flawed as a person - somewhat like Alan Clarke, this attracts you more deeply into what he is saying.
Miles above the standard sports book, this is revered as a classic, and deservedly so. Its wisdom stretches far beyond the football field. Whatever you think about the Keane book, this is well worth reading.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book is a wonderful insight into the world of second-tier English football in the 1970s. Eamon Dunphy is very honest about the highs and lows of his season, both personally... Read morePublished 7 months ago by C. Coyne
As a Millwall fan, Eamon Dunphy was part of the team I watched as a young boy, I found it compelling reading.Published 9 months ago by Robert
Cited as one of the top football books ever written, 40 years on Dunphy is still around to provide acerbic criticism on the 'game?' he so loved. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Mr J D Brick
The best and most honest story of professional football I have ever read.Published 21 months ago by Mr. J. B. Gregg
Interesting account from Millwall midfielder Eamon Dunphy of half a season at Millwall (things open brightly and gradually deteriorate) widely regarded as one of the most authentic... Read morePublished on 27 Jan. 2014 by Gareth Smyth
For Danny Blanchflower, Tottenham Hotspur's Northern Irish legend of the 1960s, football was undoubtedly 'The Glory Game'. Read morePublished on 22 Dec. 2013 by S Bailey
Excellent. Probably the first insightful book on a professional football career and not just a memoir of football matches on particular dates.Published on 17 Oct. 2013 by Kevin O'Sullivan
This was a book purchased as a second hand item bought on the recommendation of a friend. Whilst it was a good and revealing insight into the life of professional football, there... Read morePublished on 24 July 2013 by Shiromar