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Run its course
on 11 February 2014
In the second instalment of the Secret Footballer’s dabble with books, it’s hard to imagine what more could be presented that hadn’t already been done. And while there are some interesting tales, but not enough to fully satisfy. The concept naturally prevents too many specifics, but there is still to opportunity to keep guessing as to who he is, and who he refers to. But he increasingly comes across as a bit of a pain in the you know what.
It’s hard to feel any sympathy at times with the financial complications he found himself in with a particular club. The circumstances scream “Portsmouth” to me, but I could be wrong. However, the author details how the missed pay packets put his home at risk, and that is naturally a real concern. What never seems to have occurred to him though is that perhaps he could have moved to a property that didn’t require a £16,000 a month mortgage.
A chapter devoted to his youthful drug taking seems at odds with the whole concept. What we’re after is anecdotes from behind the scenes at football clubs rather than his teenage drugs dabbling. He does at least move on to discuss drugs in football, but the numerous pages of laboured introduction to the subject seem unnecessary.
The kind of anecdote that we do want is given a marvellous example in the story of going to see Tottenham play in Milan with his father. It’s both insightful and funny; the hallmark of what we expect from the Secret Footballer, but sadly there just aren’t enough examples like this to make the book worthwhile.
The second half of the book brings more insight as he looks at various after football career possibilities. The stories are told with long quotes from others, or with lengthy conversations rather than his own insight, but it does at least give us some information we wouldn’t necessarily have known anyway. There’s a section devoted to the UEFA coaching courses and the requirements they entail. He goes into a fair amount of detail about the course which is suitably interesting.
He also then goes through potential foreign transfer destinations and assesses them be revealing conversations he’s had with those who have experienced those places already. The most revealing is the discussion about playing for an Old Firm team and the constant pressure and hounding that brings – far from the easy life one might sometimes imagine.
There are interesting tales here, but they aren’t in sufficient numbers to satisfy sadly. Overall the book doesn’t flow satisfactorily with many sections seemingly having no link to those that came before as though it’s a cobbled together collection of the best (or the remaining best after the first book) anecdotes from the newspaper column. The second half does link better, presumably after a stern half-time ticking off, with the ongoing career options which are well told and work much better. But overall I was left rather underwhelmed by this second instalment, and feel that in book form anyway the Secret Footballer has run its course.