As I write this, I have been a follower of snooker for the past fifteen years. The reason for this is quite simply I fell in awe of Jimmy White's game and his unfaillingly humble attitude. So I obviously looked forward to reading his story. And I was not disappointed, this is a brilliant account of Jimmy's raucous life. There are some lovely anecdotes about his drunken exploits, there are also some rather sinister tales that take place in dodgy snooker halls.
As noted by other reviewers, Jimmy doesn't fill the book with snooker stories this book's tales focus more on Jimmy's behaviour away from the baize. We are told of Jimmy's truanting as a child as well as misadventures such as two week "escapes" to Ireland. However Jimmy, at times, does not paint a good picture of himself. At times his treatment of his wife Maureen seems irresponsible to say the least, although as his life progressed this behaviour did abate a little.
So, all things considered, this is a very enjoyable read and a must for Jimmy White's legions of fans. And I would also recommend this even to non-snooker fans. Excellent!
I sometimes think this book should have been called "The Jimmy & Alex Show". The capers of Jimmy White and Alex Higgins will have you whizzing along at breakneck speed. Thoroughly interesting starting with Jimmy hanging out in the local snooker hall when he should have been in school, breaking his leg and then playing snooker with the walking stick, playing the amateur circuit and finally to his professional status. The stories are legendary (especially where Alex Higgins is involved) and, at times, you wonder is this book a dream with some of the things Jimmy White got up to. The book is open and doesn't dodge the issues between Jimmy and Maureen. The reader gets to see, albeit through a haze of drink at times, Jimmy's World of snoooker and all the associated characters. Towards the end of the book we get an interesting insight into why Jimmy White is one of the best snooker players never to have won the World Championship. It is one of those books which is hard to put down as you want to find out what mischief Jimmy White gets into next. The saga where a car load of them try to get through Lucan, Dublin and stopped by a garda is something out of a comedy show, especially when you read the outcome. I think the lack of dates tends to leave you being in one period of his life, then we have another story from another period and we wind up completely somewhere else but, in a way, it keeps it interesting - just like Jimmy White's life.
Having had a modest interest in the career ups and downs of the truly exceptional talent that is/was Jimmy White, I had been really looking forward to reading this book. So when I spotted it in the local library I felt compelled to read it. And having done so, I can't help feeling disappointed, not so much with the book but with White himself. White always gave the impression of being a maverick and his very candid and open account of his life does nothing to counteract this. With stories about going AWOL from school, to hustling money on the underground circuit and no-end of shenanigans with friends and other snooker stars - notably Alex Higgins, White has certainly led a full life. And perhaps this is the issue, for I felt that the cheeky Cockney took the partying a step too far. Some of his recollections are doubtless amusing, but to continually read that he has gone on alcohol-fuelled benders for days and weeks at a time leaving his long-suffering partner home alone with the kids, strikes me as nothing short of irresponsible. A handful of times you could forgive, but this seems to have been a constant theme throughout his life and his selfishness can surely not have benefitted his young kids. I can confidently still say that I admire him tremendously for his ability on a snooker table, but unfortunately I can not say the same of him as a father or as a person.
It is somewhat amusing that when the history of the green baize is written, the greatest snooker tornament of them all will most most certainly be remembered for the man who never won it ... the peoples champion ... Jimmy White. In the final chapter of this book White delivers a surprisingly philosophical verdict on why he has never captured the World Snooker Crown having particpated in 6 finals at the Legendary Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, and bad luck has nothing to do with it. The book is filled with dozens of colourful characters straight out of a Guy Richie movie and Jimmys adventures with Alex Higgins, Tony Meo, Steve Davis, and lesser known Dodgy Bob and best friend Pee-Wee make for hillarious reading. What is refreshing about this book is that White is not out to win any new fans, indeed with his depiction of his and wife Maureen's terrible, sometimes violent arguments, and his squandering of literally thousands of pounds of their money, Jimmy takes us to the edge, dissolving a lot of the fun loving lovable rogue type persona that made him such an household name. Brutally Honest. Yet these type of characters seemingly always hold a place in our hearts no matter what they do. This is a good biography surprisingly void of snooker.
I thought that from reading this book, I would obtain an insight into Jimmy White's snookering success. However all it seemed to be was an ego boost for the author. Writing about how many friends he's got, and how many drinks he can take without being sick! Very disappointing read. The only autobiography that I have read where there seems to be no insight into the author's personal feelings, apart from the fact that he is out for a laugh. Not to mention the poor writing style......
This book is so unlike any other sporting biography. Just reading the book sends you on a roller coaster of a ride from Zan's snooker club, Tooting to the Crucible, Sheffield. Along the way there's plenty to shock, from gambling to wife beating, it's all there - the stories behind the headlines. There's plenty of laughs to. You simply cannot miss the story of Lazarus O'Higgins when he flew through the windscreen of Jimmy's car as it crashed into a wall!