Book re­views

Books JOHN LYONS re­views the latest to reach us at Late Tackle...

Late Tackle Football Magazine - - CONTENTS -

The best of the re­cent of­fer­ings

PACKIE BON­NER – THE LAST LINE, BY PACKIE BON­NER WITH GER­ARD McDADE, PUB­LISHED BY EBURY PRESS, £20

RAT­ING OUT OF 10: 8 CAN it re­ally be 25 years since the Re­pub­lic of Ire­land reached the quar­ter-fi­nals of the World Cup and Packie Bon­ner made his fa­mous penalty shoot-out save?

Yes, time flies by and Bon­ner has timed his au­to­bi­og­ra­phy to co­in­cide with the 25th an­niver­sary of his last 16 penalty save from Ro­ma­nia’s Daniel Ti­mofte. David O’Leary then kept his cool to net the win­ning spot-kick and earn the boys in green a quar­ter­fi­nal clash against Italy.

This book is well writ­ten and the early de­scrip­tion of the shoot-out is a good one. I won’t spoil it all by re­veal­ing too much, but here’s a taster:“I spring to my right, feel­ing this huge gulp in my throat and then the im­mense sat­is­fac­tion of the ball thud­ding off my gloves and away to safety.”

Un­for­tu­nately, Ire­land were edged out 1-0 by hosts Italy in the quar­ter-fi­nals af­ter ‘Toto’ Schillaci knocked home a re­bound af­ter Bon­ner could only parry a Roberto Don­adoni lon­grange ef­fort.

In the days lead­ing up to the match, the Ir­ish play­ers had been in­tro­duced to Pope John Paul II, who had been a goal­keeper in his youth.

Bon­ner’s team-mate Andy Townsend tells a good story from the Italy match, re­counted by the keeper in his book.

“As I de­ject­edly made my way into the showers af­ter Schillaci had put us out with that goal, Jack was lean­ing against the shower-room door, draw­ing on a cig­a­rette while chat­ting to his cap­tain. As I passed by, out of the cor­ner of his mouth, he was re­puted to have said,‘aye, the Pope would have saved that one’.Well you had to laugh.”

There are some great anec­dotes in The Last Line and Bon­ner, 55, can draw on all his ex­peri- ences.What comes through in the book is his love of his na­tive Done­gal, Ire­land and Celtic. In two decades, he made 641 ap­pear­ances for Celtic, win­ning four Scot­tish League ti­tles, three Scot­tish Cups and one Scot­tish League Cup.

But it wasn’t all suc­cess as Bon­ner was forced to live through some lean times with the Scot­tish giants and ad­mits he would have loved to have had greater suc­cess with the Bhoys in Europe.

And life wasn’t al­ways easy with the Ire­land squad, es­pe­cially when Roy Keane went bal­lis­tic at man­ager Mick McCarthy be­fore the World Cup in 2002 and was sent home.

Bon­ner said:“In a team sport, to­geth­er­ness is ev­ery­thing and felt that Roy had bro­ken that solemn, bind­ing code with his team-mates and his man­ager.”

He also writes mov­ingly about the loss of close friend and for­mer Celtic team-mate Tommy Burns from skin can­cer at the age of 51.

All in all, The Last Line is a well-crafted, fas­ci­nat­ing ac­count of a ded­i­cated pro­fes­sional’s ca­reer. A HISTORY OF BRAD­FORD CITY AFC IN OB­JECTS, BY JOHN DEWHIRST, PUB­LISHED BY BANTAMSPAST, WWW.BANTAMSPAST.CO.UK, £30

RAT­ING OUT OF 10: 8 WHEN some­one as well re­spected as Hunter Davies says ‘this is the best il­lus­trated history of any club I have ever read’, then your ex­pec­ta­tion lev­els rise.

But no one can ar­gue that John Dewhirst hasn’t de­liv­ered. This is as thor­ough a book as you will find and will no doubt pro­vide Brad­ford City fans with plenty of mem­o­ries from years gone by.

Whether you are talk­ing about pro­grammes, tick­ets, letters, badges, scarves, records, stick­ers and a host of other mem­o­ra­bilia, Dewhirst cov­ers it in his book, which is un­doubt­edly a labour of love.

This tome will keep you go­ing for a long while, and it’s one of those books that you can dip in and out of to your heart’s con­tent.

Some­thing I wasn’t ex­pect­ing was as much cov­er­age of Brad­ford City’s neigh­bours, Brad­ford Park Av­enue, but Dewhirst ex­plains how the clubs have been in­ter­twined, es­pe­cially un­til 1970 when the lat­ter were in the Football League.

“Lit­tle re­mains to re­mind peo­ple that Brad­ford once had two Football League clubs and I be­lieve it is im­por­tant to keep that mem­ory alive,” said Dewhirst.“In my opin­ion it was a tragedy that the two did not pool re­sources at the out­set and it goes a long way to ex­plain why the tro­phy cab­i­nets were not filled.” One of Dewhirst’s bug­bears is how the media of­ten re­fer to Brad­ford City sim­ply as Brad­ford. He points out that ‘Brad­ford’ is Brad­ford (PA) and not Brad­ford City.

The de­sign of the book is ex­cel­lent with a su­perb ar­ray of pic­tures com­bin­ing well with the words to make the right mix.

In his in­tro­duc­tion, Dewhirst says:“I don’t pre­tend it to be a de­fin­i­tive history and I will read­ily ad­mit that it is an idio­syn­cratic jour­ney… some­times ob­jects pro­vide a bet­ter re­minder of events than facts, fig­ures or words.”

Even if you’re not a Brad­ford City fan, this book may well ap­peal to you as it chron­i­cles how one club has changed in all recog­ni­tion over more than 100 years.

Brad­ford hasn’t had the suc­cess of cities like Manch­ester, Liver­pool and Lon­don over the years, but there are still a ton of sto­ries to en­joy and pon­der. This book will keep you en­ter­tained for a long time.

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