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Red Mist: Roy Keane and the World Cup Civil War - A Fan's Story Hardcover – 5 Apr 2004
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2002 was the year of Roy Keane, if not exactly Roy Keane's year. Banished from Ireland's World Cup squad and then suspended by the English FA after comments in his best-selling autobiography, the Manchester United and Ireland captain was seldom out of the news. Red Mist - a passionate exploration of celebrity, temperament, one-all victories, Saipan, the World Cup and national aspiration - is Conor O'Callaghan's personal memoir of an Irish hero arraigned in the court of public opinion. It records the arguments In bars and across shop counters, the media debates, and the torrent of rumours that swirled around Mick McCarthy's team. It also sees the story from quirky angles: the drawings of the writer's football-mad seven-year-old son and the mysterious disappearance of his rag doll, Mr Roy Keane, during the weeks following his banishment from Saipan, plus letters in newspapers, eavesdropped conversations, tirades on website comment pages and even the washing powder commercials featuring Mrs Niall Quinn. Funny, polemical and unexpectedly moving, Red Mist is a portrait of a nation divided, and the summer when football and the love of football made players of us all.
About the Author
Conor OCallaghan is the author of three acclaimed poetry collections, The History of Rain (shortlisted for the Forward Poetry Prize Best First Collection and winner of the Patrick Kavanagh Award), Seatown and Fiction. He lives in Co. Louth, Republic of Ireland, with his wife and fellow poet Vona Groarke and their two children, Tommy and Eve.
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One thing is for sure, Roy has never been misunderstood. Not by his fans (of which I am one)or by his enemies. Roy has a dry wit (see his DVD "As I see it") and some of his quotes in the book are razor sharp.
I think Roy told it how he found it. After a decade of winning everything, Roy cannot accept the notion that Ireland are here "just to make up the numbers". You see to Roy, he always had a chance. He fought like a madman every week for United and most times proved the point.How can he suddenly change? It's not in his nature. Forget the "Roy Class" phrase the lads decided to use as the new way of flying. That was patronising. Roy was a winner and sometimes those types are way misunderstood.
Ask yourself, if you were in the tunnel about to walk out onto the big arena and after a quick glance over shoulder you saw Keano on your side, how would you feel?
The dust-jacket description doesn't do this beautiful book justice. "Red Mist" is about much more than Roy Keane and the World Cup controversy that divided Ireland in 2002: this is a book about a father's relationship to his football-crazed son and about one man's relationship to his country. It's fun, funny, and genuinely moving.
It would be hard to overestimate the importance of the Roy Keane story in Ireland, and O'Callaghan shows its personal impact in a series of amusing, moving tales. In one scene, the author writes about an automobile accident. There, at the side of the road, he finds himself getting into a heated discussion with the police: not about the accident, but about Roy Keane and Irish football.
Its elegant, graceful style takes "Red Mist" far beyond the average football tome, and the anecdotes of O'Callaghan's interactions with his young, football-mad son make this a book about much larger, more important issues. A classic.
Ireland's team captain leading up to the finals was Roy Keane, considered by many to be the country's greatest ever player. While soccer is a team sport, Ireland simply wouldn't have been capable of qualifying for the Finals without him. Keane, like all the other members of Ireland's squad, has spent the bulk of his playing career in England - where he has won the Premiership and the F.A. Cup (English soccer's top competitions) several times. He also has a winners medal from the Champions League (Europe's top competition) in his collection. A very focused and determined player, he believes it is necessary to train, eat and rest properly to perform at the highest level.
The events that led up to the World Cup Finals that year, however, must have left him feeling disillusioned with the international set-up. The FAI (the organisation in charge of Irish soccer) had decided that Saipan would be used as the pre-tournament base. After all, it had a very nice hotel. Unfortunately, the team arrived to discover the FAI had brought no soccer balls or training gear - which made training a little difficult. Furthermore, Keane, as captain, wasn't too impressed with the attitude of some of his team-mates; there have been suggestions of late nights and heavy drinking (and I don't mean isotonic fluids). Furthermore, when the training equipment finally arrived, he was unhappy that some were allowed to skip the scheduled training sessions. Keane's anger at what was happening around him led to a huge argument with the squad's coach, Mick McCarthy. It seems that McCarthy found Keane's attitude unacceptable and reservations without foundation; as a result, he dismissed Keane from the squad and sent him home.
The story was huge, and Ireland was divided. A large part of the Irish population bizarrely agreed with McCarthy. Vilified by many in the media, Keane was labelled a traitor. Some made claims about what he'd said to McCarthy. He denied making the most controversial remark, a denial supported by Niall Quinn - another player who'd actually backed McCarthy's position. Keane, however, did have his supporters - among them, the population of Cork City and Conor O'Callaghan. In this book, O'Callaghan looks back to the events of Saipan, the reaction of the Irish people and its effect on him. He was involved in any number of arguments defending Keane - his barber was one of his favorite sparring partners - while the situation left his seven-year-old son thoroughly confused. Like Steve Staunton - who was appointed Ireland's captain after Keane was dismissed - O'Callaghan was brought up in Dundalk. Staunton was another player who'd backed McCarthy at a press conference. One of the funniest incidents takes place at a street party after his neighbour returned home - O'Callaghan made sure his neighbour knew not everyone was happy with his role.
I enjoyed this book quite a bit, but I'd imagine it has a limited appeal. There'd need to be some interest in football, and it will mean more if the reader followed the 2002 World Cup. (Having said that, it probably won't be enjoyed so much by those who supported Mick McCarthy). If you're interested, other books that cover the events of Saipan include "Laptop Dancing and the Nanny Goat Mambo: A Sports Writer's Year" by Tom Humphries and the autobiographies of Niall Quinn and Roy Keane.
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