Book Review: Hard Case: The Autobiography of Jimmy Case with Andrew Smart
During my teenage years, Liverpool were the dominant team in England winning numerous domestic and European titles. Part of that side was Jimmy Case a Scouser with a reputation as a hard man.
However, it is all too easy to forget that he was also a player with a great deal of skill. If proof was needed then one only needs to checkout his goal in the 1977 FA Cup Final against Manchester United. Early in the second-half a ball is played into the box and Case with his back to goal, controls it on his right thigh, takes a touch with his right foot, turns and smashes it beyond the reach of Alex Stepney the Manchester United keeper. Quite simply a great goal executed with skill.
That game back in May 1977 opens the book, in a first chapter which looks at not only that appearance for Liverpool, but also for Brighton in the 1983 Final, when again Manchester United were the opponents.
The next ten chapters then take the reader through Case’s life in chronological order, from his childhood days growing up in Liverpool to retirement and a brief spell in management.
These chapters cover Case’s schooldays, his early adulthood training to be an electrician and his time playing for The Blue Union and Stevedores Dockers Social Club, before moving into the professional game with spells at Liverpool, Brighton (twice), Southampton, Bournemouth and Halifax Town. Case’s brief time playing for Wrexham, Darlington and Sittingbourne with managerial stints at Brighton and Bashley, is also covered. As you might expect the chapters are liberally sprinkled with tales of the trophy wins and losses, and anecdotes of events on and off the pitch.
Within two of the final three chapters, Case has the chance to look at the modern game and Liverpool in the 2013/14 season, offering his opinion on both. The final chapter provides the reader with tributes to Jimmy Case from those within the game.
This is the story of a player who perhaps never got the credit he deserved for what he brought to teams he was involved in. Certainly the fact that he didn’t earn a single senior cap irks Case and is probably justified as he was as good as anybody around during his pomp.
It is football from a different era and the book has that old fashioned feel and format to it. The conversational and anecdotal style reminds me of the football autobiographies I grew up reading. However, that isn’t a criticism; it’s simply that the game and the books written about it have moved on.