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My Father and Other Working Class Football Heroes (edition 2006)

by Gary Imlach

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666180,945 (3.96)6
Member:FiveBooks
Title:My Father and Other Working Class Football Heroes
Authors:Gary Imlach
Info:Yellow Jersey Press (2006), Paperback, 256 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
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My Father and Other Working Class Football Heroes by Gary Imlach

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Gary Imlach has succeeded in writing an excellent and revealing story of his father's football career. Stewart Imlach was a player I'd never heard of before reading this book. A flying winger, he was a Scottish international in the 1950s and represented them in the 1958 World Cup. He played for a variety of clubs south of the border, most notably at Nottingham Forest in the earlier stages of his career where he appeared and starred in their victorious '59 FA Cup winning side. Once retired from playing he goes on to be a part of Everton's coaching staff in the 1970 league title winning side - a team featuring Ball, Harvey, Kendall and Royle amongst others.

Where this book really impressed me (and contrary to other reviews, I think it is very well written) was in the way that it gives the reader a complete insight into the reality of being a professional in the game during the era of 'retain and transfer' and the maximum wage. It really hammers home that while there were undoubtedly many faults with those systems that were tantamount to servile tied labour, the pendulum has indeed swung far too far away from those days when fans really respected their club's players as both footballers AND members of society. Many sporting biographies serve to heap praise on the subject and fail to get across the real person behind the story. Imlach's book doesn't fall into this trap at all. The father whose sporting achievements were not so apparent to the writer at the time they happened - he either wasn't born yet or was just a lad - becomes more understood than ever as his story is uncovered via the many newspaper cuttings discovered and teammate interviews undertaken.

At times full of pathos and admiration for the humble aspirations the 'working-class heroes' in the title would have, in an era far removed from the fast cars, 'WAGS', and 'bling' of the modern cash-soaked game, Imlach has expressed with a journalist's guile and a wonderfully dry sense of humour what our beautiful game once was like - from the inside. Towards the end, as Imlach Snr's career had ended, and illness changed him from a bundle of blurring energy into an armchair-bound TV fan, we come to understand just how dramatically the game has changed so much, especially in the modern era of 24/7 media coverage, Premier League big money broadcasting rights, agents' manipulations, and widespread disloyalty to the clubs - ergo the fans. It was wonderful to momentarily forget all about that and revel in the era of football when the players still had off-season jobs and got the bus to the training ground...

A wonderful slice of modern social history to boot, this William Hill Sports Book of the Year is highly recommended to anyone with an interest in sports history in general and football in particular. ( )
1 vote Polaris- | Apr 30, 2012 |
The story of Stewart Imlach, 'working class football hero', told through the eyes of his son, Gary. He tells the moving story of the father whom he hardly knew, and does it by researching his father's on-field exploits through talking to his former colleagues. ( )
  cbinstead | Mar 23, 2012 |
"....It’s a beautiful social history from a time when – it’s clichéd but true – footballers lived in the same area as the fans, they drank in the same pubs with the fans, caught the bus to the game with the fans. There was a maximum wage so there was none of your 170 grand a week. They were all ordinary working people. It’s written by Gary Imlach, a sports TV journalist, and it’s about his father, Stewart, who was a professional footballer in the 1950s...." ( Reviewed by Steve Bloomfield in Fivebooks).



The full interview is available here: http://fivebooks.com/interviews/steve-bloomfield-on-world-football ( )
1 vote | FiveBooks | Jun 9, 2010 |
On page 46 is a description of using old bound newspapers at the British Library newspaper library site at Colindale. `The past is as much inhaled here as it is read'. Not for much longer though, just a year or two. ( )
1 vote jon1lambert | Feb 1, 2010 |
Though not a football fan, I found this book to be moving and interesting. A son traces his father's football career through the 1950s and 1960s, when professional football was very different to what it is now. The emphasis is on the game and the players, but towards the end, the relationship between father and son becomes central. I think I would have found that more interesting, and I expected more of that than there was. A well-written book giving a glimpse of a particular sport at a particular time in Britain. ( )
  VegAnne | Jun 26, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0224072684, Paperback)

A beautifully written and moving account of the author’s search for the man his father was, and the life he led as a well-known footballer at a time when the men who played the game, and those who watched it, led fundamentally the same lives together in the same communities.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:53:32 -0400)

Stuart Imlach played football in the last days of the maximum wage when footballers were serfs at the mercy of their clubs and when the men who played the game and those who watched it led fundamentally the same lives in the same communities. His son recaptures that era, barely comprehensible 40 years on, and the way it changed.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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