Posted on July 19, 2011

One of the Dad’s who helps me out at cricket has suggested that I should write a book about my five years as a coach of our Colts team. There is a lot of action packed in to that period but it is extremely doubtful that to anyone outside Oakley CC it would make better reading than your average autobiography of which there are so many, most of them which are pretty awful, self indulgent and lacking humour. I went through a period of reading sporting autobiographies on holidays, taking an almost perverse pleasure in finding one worse than the last, though I guess if you have just won a Premier league title, the Ashes or a rugby world cup, you could publish a countdown of your best ever farts and people out there would buy it. However, the fact is, modern sportsmen are so dedicated to their profession that they are actually quite boring characters who think that recalling the time they cut the soles out of an unsuspecting team mates socks is hilarious and riveting stuff that us mere mortals can’t get enough of.

In my opinion, witnessing one of our Colts players drilling a cricket ball  from fully 30 yards in to the back of the skull of a” know it all” Grandfather of one the children, is far funnier than a millionaire footballer running around a dressing room looking for his stolen Armani pants, but that’s just me I suppose. The fact that chap hit by the hard lump of leather was just about to take a sip of hot tea as the ball made impact turned the whole situation in to a moment of unique comedy gold. What was really interesting as he went down quicker than a whore’s drawers, was the reaction of the other parents as he was lying on floor covered in scalding tea whilst drifting in and out of consciousness. Whilst some raced to his aid, others turned the other way and desperately looked for a place to hide their embarrassed ecstasy. We are a strange race us humans, the short term pain experienced by others in incidents like this are for some reason, a joy to behold, especially when the injured party is a bit of a pratt. I did what I always do in these situations; I pretended to do up my shoelaces in the blind hope that I could distract myself from letting all my emotions out.

Going back to original subject, I would like to know that when these sports people write their books, who helps them provide the titles? I have Googled some sports autobiographies, do the same, it is cracking fun and the title is a strong indication of the utter shit you are just about to indulge yourself in, here are some of my favourites:

• Kevin Pietersen-Portrait of a Rebel

• Andy Gray-Gray Matters

• Matt Le Tissier-Taking Le Tiss

• Graham Thorpe-Rising From the Ashes

• Michael Holding-No Holding Back

• Alec Stewart-Playing for Keeps

• Peter Crouch-Walking Tall

• Vic Marks-Marks out of Ten

There are hundreds more, but one that really stood out was a title called Working the Wheel by Martin Brundle, I am going buy that one. The story of a C list racing driver from Norfolk who partakes in my least favourite sport is something I cannot afford to miss out on, I just know that it is going to be a page turner that keeps me awake until the early hours. I was drifting off to sleep when I was reading about his moderate career on Wikipedia earlier when suddenly I came across a controversy called “Pikey Probe.” Apparently when commentating during a race Brundle was forced to apologise after calling the workmen repairing the tarmac track Pikeys. After there was a barrage of no fewer than fourteen complaints to Ofcom, Brundle apologised, but was later cleared of wrongdoing as apparently, he did not realise the racial implications of his wording. Did you know that the word Pikey first appeared in 1837 in an article by The Times, referring to them as “strangers harvesting on the Isle of Sheppey?”  I didn’t and neither did Martin Brundle apparently.

You see, Martin Brundle’s book already appears more interesting than reading about how Ian Wright loves his Mum and how he would be in prison if he hadn’t been a footballer. Wright’s book by the way, is called Mr Wright, an inspired title that the publishers must have taken several weeks of brain storming to come up with. However, I would say that judging by the petty crime he was involved in as a younster Wright from Wrong may have been more apt. It seems that publishers are pretty determined to get the name of the person in the title as some sort of pun, as is the case with “Wark On” by former Liverpool, Ipswich and Scotland footballer John Wark, a book that is ambitiously described as a riotous autobiography, packed with funny boot room stories. Mind you, I would bet that the life of a footballer from the 1970’s is more entertaining than reading Gary Neville’s book simply titled Red. He couldn’t even bring himself to call call it Red Neville for God’s sake. Unless he candidly admits to sucking Alex Ferguson’s dick for the last twenty years, I can’t see anything interesting about that one I’m afraid.

My favourite ever title for an autobiograhy however, does not come from a sports star, it comes from an actor, well sort of an actor. Think Baywatch……….Okay……Male readers put down the Kleenex please and think Baywatch again, but this time think ACTOR not actress in Baywatch. Homosexual readers put down the Kleenex and concentrate just for a few minutes……….okay you should have got it by now, it is of course David Hassellhoff………….but what is the title of his book?


Wonderful stuff, I just have to get a copy to sit alongside Working the Wheel  and Glory Years, the gut busting tales of a Colts cricket coach.

2 Replies to "Autobiographies"

  • Trevor and Amy
    July 21, 2011 (1:54 am)

    Great post Bob – superb research on the dodgy autobiography names – Peter Crouch – Walking Tall – just superb 🙂

    Although not a great title, the oft quoted footy autobiography is Ashley Cole "My Defence".

    Apparently the title was being sold for half price on Amazon before it even hit the shelves. It might be a good read (obviously if you can get it from the library without paying money to buy it).

    Amazing quotes (prior to his Arsenal departure) like;

    [AC Agent] "I’m here in the office and David Dein is saying they aren’t going to give you £60k a week. They’ve agreed £55k and this is their best and final offer. Are you happy with that?"

    [AC] "When I heard Jonathan repeat the figure of £55k, I nearly swerved off the road. "He is taking the piss, Jonathan!" I yelled down the phone. I was so incensed. I was trembling with anger. I couldn’t believe what I’d heard…

    and so it goes on and on. poor old Ash 🙂 those penny-pinching Gooners.

  • Bob Lethaby's Blog
    July 21, 2011 (1:01 pm)

    My favourite football bit of folklore was when Seth Johnson met Leeds chairman Peter Ridsdale to thrash out a contract. Johnson then of Derby was advised by his agent to ask for £25k a week.

    When Johnson walked in to Ridsdale's office, he was abrubtly told by tough talking Ridsdale that here was no point in asking for more than the £42k a week wage ceiling as he wouldn't be getting it.

    This may have been an urban myth but a great story all the same and a sign of the obscene football finances!!

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