The latest football book from the ever expanding CQN publishing stable is a long awaited blast from one of the many world class players who were part of the Lisbon Lions of 1967. Celtic’s best ever left back has collaborated with Alex Gordon, a vastly experienced sports writer, to produce a rollicking tale from a football life that was full of adventure, just like Tommy’s own playing style and that of the team that made him famous.
Entitled “All The Best”, the title reflects the fact that Tommy offers these wishes to all his readers, that he is giving of his best in the writing of the book just as he did on the field, with candid comment and surprising views, but, mostly, because Tommy has taken the stable diet of the football memoir- “Who were the best players that you played with and against?”, and taken this to another level
He has listed nine “Best Of” teams in the course of the book: the Lions (of course), Tommy’s best Scotland teammates, the best Celtic players apart from the Lions, a World Football 11 Tommy’s played against, his best teammates from both Nottingham Forest and Dundee, as well as two generations of great Celtic players Tommy has watched as a spectator. There’s even a nod to his time as Albion Rovers’ manager.
Now, those of you used to the lazy format of a football book where not much thought, insight or honesty goes into the exercise, will be very surprised at the level of honesty, brutal in some cases, that goes into the pen pictures of those selected and some who just missed out. Tommy turns an honest spotlight on himself, you find yourself nodding your head in agreement, once you’ve recovered your breath, that is.
For this is a breathless read of a football life lived to the full. The forthright opinions on managers, even those he admired, are very revealing about the amount of dishonesty involved in football. You will be astounded at how these world class football players conducted themselves. If you are expecting to find tales of clean living, utmost professionalism on and off the field, and modern collegiate management, you will be very disappointed in this book. However, if you are looking for searing honesty, interspersed with several hilarious tales, then this is the book for you
It is not the polite memoir of a senior citizen glossing over the bad behaviour of his younger days, it is the “warts and all” tales of a more innocent time, when despite the absence of modern techniques, Scotland managed to rule the world and produce a Golden generation, for a brief period of time. Some of the opinions expressed are candid to the point of scurrilous-ness but the humour that is present in every chapter and every pen picture takes the edge of some of the more boorish behaviour which is recounted. There is no hiding place in sport. Everyone has an opinion and is keen to share it. Add booze to the picture and bad behaviour will inevitably follow,
It is fair to say that, even though I thought I was well acquainted with the details of Tommy’s life and career, there were many incidents that I was hearing about for the first time. Tommy’s description of one of his early team mates at Celtic who made life difficult for him will, first of all, shock you and then have you biting the carpet with laughter. His tale of transfer negotiations with the legendary Jim McLean and with a Ranger’s Director will also have you smiling broadly as Tommy does not miss and hit the wall.
From the Foreword by fellow Lisbon Lion, Bertie Auld, through to the final section, where Tommy fields some cheeky questions from the posters on the Celtic Quick News site, genuine laugh out loud humour is not far from the surface. This is a very funny book and captures the banter that still flows between these football legends.
It is a difficult task to combine such humour with frank honesty and then to maintain readability. In the 12 chapters of the book, you will find details which surprise, shock and amuse you. If you are a Celtic fan of a certain age, you will smile in reminiscence as long forgotten events are re-lived from an insider’s perspective. If you are a football fan at all, you will get an insight into the world of football from the 50s to the 80s from a practitioner and into modern football of the past 3 decades from an informed observer. If you just like to read a good book, this one will make you laugh out loud at many points.
Tommy Gemmell gave all his best for Celtic and Scotland while he played there. He continues to give us all his best in this publication. This is the best football memoir I’ve read in a long time. I am still remembering pieces and chuckling as I type this.
For a short period only you can add to the bundle Tommy is dedicating and signing (below) from the button at the bottom of the page.