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Gary Imlach - My Father and Other Professional Footballers
on 3 September 2006
Memoirs of deceased parents can be mawkishly sentimental ponderous affairs drowning in pathos, but Imlach has succeeded in writing a book that is deftly light in tone and entertaining as well as being, by turns, moving, funny and informative.
The contrast between professional footballers' lives half a century ago and today is fascinating - wages were a fraction of what they are now, and not only were players not the superstars they are now but they were often treated with little respect by their clubs, who would occasionally arrange transfers without informing them first.
There are many hilarious moments here, among them the author's foiling an attempt to foul him in a school match by getting in there first, his mum hiding in the pantry when her husband played in professional matches so that she could avoid the radio commentary, and the arch wilfulness of waiters trying to humiliate the wives of players at a posh dinner. This last scene shows off Imlach's flair and wit to the full, with the asparagus laid before the bewildered wives being described as 'straightened question marks to which they had no answer'.
The ease with which Imlach recounts absorbing tales, his ability to draw humour from everyday occurences, and his passion for football will draw obvious comparisons with Nick Hornby or David Baddiel. Hopefully, like them, he will turn his hand to fiction and become a fully fledged writer of best selling laugh-out-loud, blokeish novels.