I know it’s quite unusual for me to be reviewing a book on the blog, but I thought a change would do me good.
Now if you know me at all, you will know that I’m not too keen on footballer’s autobiographies. They always seem to follow the same generic and boring structure which makes for a dreary read; e.g Chapter 1 – I always wanted to be a footballer, Chapter 5 – My dream comes true, Chapter 10 I’m so lucky to have my family etc.
Where’s the controversy?
I am of the mindset that footballers and sportsmen alike should only release books if they have an interesting story to tell; come in Paul McGrath, Gazza and Paul Merson (all cracking books).
Luckily I can add Jeff Stelling’s bo0k alongside these books for enjoyment. Although Jeff was never a professional footballer, he has been part of the cult ‘Soccer Saturday’ show on Sky Sports News, and along with his panel of retired footballers makes the show wonderful viewing on weekends.
Here Jeff provides us with the behind the scenes look at the show, its presenters and how he ended up presenting the show.
The book is split into three sections, ‘the cult of Soccer Saturday’; showcasing some of the best anecdotes from over the years, ‘introducing the real crazy gang’; with profiles of all the main presenters over the years and ‘being Jeff’; which profiles his career so far including getting the presenter’s job on Countdown.
The risk here was always going to be whether Stelling’s quick wit would translate well to the page from the screen; thankfully it does and it flourishes. Whether he is ribbing Phil Thompson (as per most Saturday afternoons) or recalling some crazy times with George Best (lest we forget one of the first studio reporters for the show), it’s articulate and sometimes downright hilarious.
There is also the fall out from the sacking of Rodney Marsh, after his infamous quip regarding the Tsunami disaster, where Jeff presents the chapter as a court case, also highlighting other faux pas from Marsh’s back catalogue. I certainly remember the sacking well, and was quite saddened at the time, but given the sensitivity of the subject Sky really had no choice in the matter.
Overall it’s a thoroughly enjoyable read, certainly one for the fans, but even as a safe bet it’s a dead cert!