Book review, Football, Gary Imlach, Nottingham Forest, Scotland

Gary Imlach. My father and other working class heroes, a review

By @SimonCocking

Good book. Back to a time when it was all so much different. The pendulum has now swung so far the other way. Footballers are massively over paid, at the extreme level earning more in a week than most will ever earn in 3 years or more of average wages. What does this mean, how does it affect them? Surely not in a good way. Still this book captures what it was like a long long time ago before that.

Imlach also has the added insight of the fact that the man he writes about, Stewart Imlach, FA Cup Winner, and member of the Scotish ‘58 World Cup team was also his father. Imlach senior was a speedy tricky wee winger. He was a member of a prodigious highlands youth team, who in one season played 44, won 44, scored a fantastic 104 and let in 4. From an area where no one had ever played more than just local football, Imlach and several others of the team all went on to play top level professional football.

Gary Imlach, you may remember as a commentator during Chanel 4’s boom days of American Football coverage in the 1980’s, or the Tour De France comentry. He grew up in a footballing family. His dad even said Gary had more nature talent then he did. This though of course was a slightly daming indictment, because it showed that talent alone is not enough to make to be a professional. Gary is aware of this difference between them. For nearly 30 years Stewart just yearned for Saturday and the chance to show his stuff on the pitch. Gary conversely eventually reached the point where he was following football so that he and his dad would have something in common.

The book is a good read because it covers the maximum wage and retained contract restrictions but lightly, not in a drawn out way. Imlach (jnr) chats with Jimmy Hill about this, but only in passing as he really wants to find out why Hill sold his father so quickly after becoming manager at Coventry. As with several encounters with exmanagers of his father, few can either remember, or are willing to give him an honest answer about why they moved him on. The shrug of the shoulders response is pretty much ‘that’s football’.

Imlach realises he should have tried and chase down the aquintances of his father sooner, and indeed asked his own father more questions while he had the chance. In this way it’s good book because it’s an affectionate but not sentimental memoir of his own face, and yet also a good insight into the wider times and experiences of that generation of footballers. A good antidote to the insanity that is the multibillion freak show that is today’s premiership which returns today …

See more about the book here


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