Euro ramblings – The Auld Enemies by Jade Craddock

With the small matter of an England-Scotland match to look forward to at Euro 2020, in preparation for the main event, I thought it would be an opportune moment for a match-up of a different kind – an England-Scotland five-a-side of autobiographies, mixing and matching across history.


GK: Peter ShiltonThe Autobiography/Saved – England’s record appearance maker, Peter Shilton won some 125 caps across a career spanning two decades. He represented England at five major tournaments, including Euro 1980 and 1988 and the 1982, 1986 and 1990 World Cup, and shares the record for most World Cup clean sheets (10) with Fabien Barthez. Peter Shilton’s domestic career took in some 11 teams, including Leicester City, Stoke City and Notts Forest. His forthcoming second autobiography, Saved, to be published in September, will reflect on his struggle with gambling.

Def: Rio FerdinandRio: My Story/Rio: My Decade as a Red/#2Sides – My Autobiography/Thinking Out Loud – With no autobiography by arguably England’s best ever defender, Bobby Moore, Rio Ferdinand steps in as England’s second-most capped central defender (behind Bobby Moore), with some 81 caps and 3 goals. Featuring for England from 1997 through to 2011, Ferdinand was included in three World Cup squads, as well as Euro 2008. Domestically, he won the Premier League, League Cup, Community Shield, Champions League and Club World Cup. His most recent book was published in 2017.

MF: Bobby CharltonMy Manchester United Years/My England Years/My Life in Football/1966: My World Cup Story – One of England’s 1966 heroes, Bobby Charlton won the Ballon d’Or in the same year and was also named FWA Footballer of the Year. He sits seventh on the list of appearances for England, with 106, and second on the list of top goal-scorers, having notched 49 in his career. A noted member of the Busby Babes, Charlton made over 600 appearances for Manchester United and had a career spanning nearly 25 years. Charlton’s clutch of autobiographies cover his impressive career, with the latest charting that epic World Cup triumph.

MF: Kevin KeeganMy Autobiography/My Life in Football – The only English footballer to have won the Ballon d’Or twice, Kevin Keegan captained England at Italy 1980. However, with England missing out on both the 1974 and 1978 World Cups, Keegan featured only in Spain 1982, but briefly due to injury. Across his career, Keegan won 63 caps and scored 21 goals, whilst domestic success came most notably at Liverpool. Following management spells with Newcastle and Fulham, Keegan stepped into the England role for one year. His second autobiography was published in 2018.

Striker: Wayne RooneyThe Way It Is/My Decade in the Premier League – Wayne Rooney holds the record as both England’s youngest ever goalscorer and the Three Lions’ top scorer, having bagged 53 goals in 120 appearances – whilst sitting second in the most caps chart. His England career spanned some 15 years, including appearances at Euro 2004, 2012 and 2016, and World Cup 2006, 2010 and 2014. Domestically, he holds the record as Manchester United’s top goalscorer, with 253 goals to his name, and is one of only two English players to have won the Premier League, FA Cup, Champions League, League Cup, Europa League and Club World Cup. His second autobiography was published in 2012.

Manager: Bobby RobsonAn Autobiography/Bobby Robson: An Englishman Abroad/Farewell but not Goodbye/My Kind of Toon – Whilst it was Alf Ramsey who led England to World Cup success, it was Bobby Robson who oversaw their best post-World Cup campaign, prior to Gareth Southgate’s arrival, leading the Three Lions to the semi-finals of Italia 90. He was at the helm for eight years, winning some 47 of his 95 games in charge, and led England at Mexico 1986 and Euro 1988. As a player, he represented England 20 times, scoring 4 goals, and had a successful managerial career at Ipswich, Barcelona and notably his hometown of Newcastle. As well as a number of autobiographies, Harry De Cosemo’s Black and White Knight was published earlier this year.


GK: Jim LeightonIn the Firing Line – With 91 caps to his name, Jim Leighton is the most capped Scottish goalkeeper, whilst sitting behind only Kenny Dalglish overall. His Scotland career spanned some 16 years from 1982 to 1998, which included two World Cups in 1986 and 1990. Whilst he missed out on Euro 92 and Euro 96, he returned as number one in the World Cup 1998 qualification and became the oldest player to play for Scotland aged 40 years and 78 days before David Weir surpassed this. His autobiography was published in 2000.

Def: Willie MillerThe Miller’s Tale/The Don/Willie Miller’s Aberdeen Dream Team – Described by Sir Alex Ferguson as ‘the best penalty box defender in the world’, Willie Miller featured for Scotland from 1975 to 1989, amassing 65 caps and one goal. He competed at the 1986 World Cup, but injury meant he missed out in 1990 and ultimately had to retire. Miller’s domestic career was spent entirely at Aberdeen (with a brief loan spell at Peterhead), where he notched up a club record 560 appearances, as well as 21 goals, in a 19-year career. He has three books to his name.

MF: Graeme SounessNo Half Measures/Graeme Souness: A Manager’s Diary/Souness: The Management Years/Graeme Souness – Football: My Life, My Passion – Across 12 years, Graeme Souness made 54 appearances for the Tartan Army, scoring four goals. In his time, he featured at three World Cups, including Argentina 1978, Spain 1982 and Mexico 1986. At club level, he made his name captaining a Liverpool side that dominated in the late 1970s/early 1980s before moving on to Sampdoria and later Rangers. A twenty-year managerial career ended at Newcastle in 2006 before Souness made the move into the media. His most recent autobiography was published in 2017.

MF: Kenny DalglishMy Autobiography/My Liverpool Home/Kenny Dalglish: Notes on a Season – As well as a legend of Celtic and Liverpool, Kenny Dalglish wrote his name into the Scottish history books, by being the most capped Scottish player, with 102 caps, and matching Denis Law as Scotland’s top goalscorer. During his career, he won the PFA Player’s Player of the Year and FWA Footballer of the Year twice, whilst being runner-up to Michel Platini for the Ballon d’Or in 1983. He was inducted to both the English and Scottish Football Halls of Fame. As well as two autobiographies, Dalglish’s Notes on a Season compiles his programmes notes from the 1989/90 season as Liverpool manager.

Striker: Denis LawThe King: My Autobiography/Denis Law: My Life in Football – Joint top goalscorer in Scotland’s history, Denis Law’s tally of 30 is made all the more impressive having scored them in some 55 games for his country. Missing out on the 1958 World Cup, Law would feature in only the 1974 World Cup but was still named Scotland’s Golden Player – the most outstanding player of the past 50 years – by the Scottish Football Association. He won the Ballon d’Or in 1964 and was included in the PFA Team of the Century. His most recent autobiography was released in 2011.

Manager: Alex FergusonManaging My Life/My Autobiography/Leading – With no autobiography available by the legendary Scottish manager Jock Stein, despite only a brief spell in charge of the national team, Sir Alex Ferguson is chosen as manager after his incredible success on the domestic front. With an unparalleled haul of team and individual awards, Ferguson stands head and shoulders above most other managers, Scottish or otherwise, in his achievements and legacy. His most recent book, Leading, published in 2015, gives an insight into his managerial philosophy.

Book Review: Fergus McCann v David Murray – How Celtic Turned the Tables on Their Glasgow Rivals by Stephen O’Donnell

Stephen O’Donnell’s book is a thorough and powerful analysis of how the Glasgow footballing giants – Celtic and Rangers – have been managed and mismanaged. Two ex-Chairmen are the focus of the narrative and it is a damning commentary on how borrowing on a huge scale, mostly prompted by the self-promoting David Murray, was the eventual undoing of Rangers whilst Celtic found an unlikely hero in Fergus McCann. His ‘tight-ship’ budgeting proved unpopular at the time, especially when contrasted with free-spending Rangers, but ultimately proved to be the correct approach.

Rangers ran up colossal debt and there is a strong sense that they ‘got off light’, not being stripped of the many titles and trophies they won in the years leading up to insolvency in 2012 and not having to start completely from scratch like many smaller Scottish clubs in a similar plight. O’Donnell is also quite clear about who the real culprit is – Sir David Murray, despite Craig Whyte picking up the poisoned chalice as Chairman and then copping for almost all the criticism.

The book, all 353 pages of it, gives a detailed history of both clubs which is essential for a full understanding of the approach and effectiveness of both McCann and Murray. Celtic had a Hiberno-Catholic foundation, unashamedly so since its original existence was directly to help the poor Irish children in the east end of Glasgow. But in Celtic’s case that early sectarianism was continuously diluted over the years. That was not so with Rangers until the time of Graeme Souness as manager and the signing of the Catholic Maurice Johnson in 1989. Much of the blame for this must be directed at the Freemasons who took a firm grip on the club before WW1 when the extreme anti-Catholic stance of the shipbuilding giant Harland and Wolff, major financial supporters, was adopted by Rangers.

The author sees Murray’s Thatcherite attitudes to borrowing as the underpinning factor in why Rangers racked up such massive debts – at times approaching £100 million. The Scottish banks were all too happy to indulge him in this high-risk game, though. It seemed that Murray need only make a phone call to his buddy Gavin Masterton who was Managing Director at the Bank of Scotland and a huge loan would be granted in minutes.

Scottish officialdom comes in for the author’s criticism, too. Examples of its longstanding anti-Celtic bias are legion but perhaps the most notorious is when the registration of new signing, Jorge Cadete, was deliberately delayed for nearly six weeks by Chief Executive Jim Farry until after Celtic had played Rangers in the Cup semi-final.

The question may well be asked; How come this situation was so little understood by the wider public?

This brings us to the final strand of O’Donnell’s argument, that the Scottish media was very pro-Rangers. To those not fully acquainted with all the details, the assumption will probably be that both sides were equally guilty of sectarianism but the author points out it was more like 90:10, Rangers being much the worse. Supported by a fawning media, however, any story was almost always skewed in their favour, particularly at Celtic’s expense.

This anti-Catholic sectarianism peddled by the media was a blight which, ultimately, did no one any good and plenty of harm along the way. O’Donnell does not make the same Freemason link with the press as he does with Rangers but the reader can speculate. Consequently, as the author points out, anything McCann did was viewed negatively in the papers whilst Murray remained their Golden Boy, simply above all criticism. O’Donnell also points out that McCann did himself few favours, his dealings with the media being poor, leaving him open to being mocked and pilloried by them. Which he duly was.

Celtic were to have the last laugh, however, and they say he who laughs last, laughs longest. As Rangers were continuing to store up eventual disaster for themselves, McCann’s financial shrewdness and astute investment in rebuilding Parkhead as a fine all-seater stadium, was finally complemented by Martin O’Neill’s canny management allowing Celtic to compete with Rangers on a consistent level. Then Celtic grew whilst Rangers began to implode until, after the financial crash in 2008, their fate was sealed.

O’Donnell does indulge himself from time to time in reportage on Celtic matches. He is clearly a Celt but, wisely, lets the facts speak for themselves. An observation has to be made that, although it is very well-written, the complete absence of graphs, charts, tables or whatever means that the reader is required to hold an enormous amount of information in his or her head. Being able to make quick cross-references would have greatly helped.

(Pitch Publishing. July 2020. Hardback 353 pages)


Graeme Garvey


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