GRAHAM REALLY GAVE IT HIS BEST SHOT...
Books JOHN LYONS reviews the latest to reach us at
TO MAKE A DREAM SURVIVE, BY GRAHAM BROOKLAND, PUBLISHED BY GROSVENOR HOUSE PUBLISHING LTD, WWW.GRAHAMBROOKLAND.WIX.COM/ TOMAKEADREAMSURVIVE, £14.99
RATING OUT OF 10: 9 BEFORE reading this book about Aldershot, I feared it could be pretty boring – and I was right.
Only joking, for this book really was a pleasant surprise. Over four decades, Graham Brookland has seen it all at the Shots.
Starting off as a young fan, he went on to witness the heartbreaking demise of the cash-stricken Shots in 1992 and was then one of the founders of the new club, Aldershot Town, that worked their way up from Isthmian League Division Three to the Football League in 16 years.
If that wasn’t enough, he then witnessed the new club fall on financial hard times, enter administration and almost go bust.
Dismayed by that turn of events, Brookland – who served as supporters’ club chairman, club secretary, director and head of media over two decades – decided it was time to walk away and go back to simply being a fan a couple of years ago.
If that’s a quick run through the facts, then what brings the book to life are his stories, anecdotes and passion for the club.
It is a warts-and-all book, with the author not afraid to acknowledge his own mistakes over the years as well as those of others who ran the club.
But there is lots of humour included, like when Brookland was running the club’s successful Shotsline and providing updates and commentary on the team. One night he was ‘covering’ a match between two of the Shots’ rivals – Collier Row and Thame United.
He recalls:“The fact is that I wasn’t even at the game, I was in the One Oak pub in Frimley. I made arrangements to speak to one of the bar staff every 15 minutes for an update by payphone in the foyer of the pub.
“I then rang the Shotsline to provide an update and had friends in the background shouting “Come on the Row” making out that they were at the match. It must have worked. The game itself finished 0-0 but we received over 500 calls on the night! Great days!”
Brookland dealt with colourful managers like George Borg, Terry Brown and Gary Waddock, who was the boss who led the Shots back into the Football League. There were also visits from the Dalai Lama, Margaret Thatcher and Sir Alex Ferguson.
He had lots of material to choose from, but he’s selected well and produced a fine book. HAVE BOOTS WILL TRAVEL, BY BRIAN JAMES MCINTYRE, WWW.HAVEBOOTSWILLTRAVEL .CO.UK, £12.99
RATING OUT OF 10: 7 AFTER reading this book, it’s clear to see that Brian McIntyre has had an amazing life.
At 18, he got called up to do national service and decided to join the Royal Air Force. He was posted overseas to Singapore and began a lifetime of travel – always with his football boots with him.
Later, he got a job as a security officer working on a diamond mine in Sierra Leone. That was the start of one of the most harrowing chapters of McIntyre’s life as he was framed for the murder of two illegal diamond miners and spent three-and-a-half months in prison.
He was eventually cleared, but even in his darkest days he tried to see the funny side. When his brother Tony flew out to attend his trial, he said:“Actually I killed three but they only found two bodies!”
After spells in Nigeria and South Africa, McIntyre returned to Singapore and became captain of the Singapore Cricket Club (SCC) football team in the 70s.
At the end of the 80s he again returned to Singapore to take part in a veterans’ soccer sevens at the SCC.When this was expanded McIntyre was charged with inviting the likes of Sir Geoff Hurst, Bobby Charlton, Pat Jennings and Trevor Brooking to play.
There aren’t many people who got the chance to play with as many football legends as McIntyre did over the years. One of the best anecdotes in the book is one that Hurst told him about keeping your feet on the ground. Hurst was getting close to Heathrow Airport in a black cab when the cabbie said, ‘okay, give us a clue’.
Hurst responded,‘Well, I played over 300 games for West Ham and scored 242 goals, I played 49 times for England and scored 24 goals and I am the only man to score a hat-trick in a World Cup final.’ The cabbie replied, ‘You prat, which terminal do you want?’
All in all, this self-published book has lots of funny stories and tales, though it could have done with some extra polishing on the grammar front to make it even better.
However, his family, including grandchildren Max and Zoe, are his main reason for writing it and the profits will go to help former Non-League footballer Andy Culliford, who was diagnosed with motor neurone disease while in his early-30s in 2011.