The Secret Player – Anonymous
In the vein of Hotel Babylon and Confessions of a GP, The Secret Player will fascinate footballs fans with its wealth of insider knowledge and willingness to talk, albeit anonymously, about the inner workings of the game. Based on the hugely popular ‘The Player’ columns in FourFourTwo magazine, the book gives a warts-and-all insight into the daily life of professional footballers. Month by month, it chronicles the oscillating rhythms of the season, from the trudge of pre-season to the ‘squeaky-bum time’ of promotion and relegation. The player himself has played at all levels of English football – from Premier League to a season of non-League – and represented England.
Keeping the football theme going to celebrate the start of the new season….
Thanks to Bookbridgr and Headline for my review copy of The Secret Player.
If you have read any of the Babylon books then you will probably have a pretty good idea as to what to expect from The Secret Player. We get to hear first hand what it is like to grace the football pitches around the country with the Premiership elite. The fear of FA Cup 3rd round when you face the minnows out to perform a ‘giant killing’ and the tension that creeps in as relegation looms.
While no names are ever mentioned we learn about the dressing room ego battles, the rivalry on and off the pitch, the excesses of wealth and how players cope with it (or not). There are pranks, girls, drinking sessions, girls, fights, girls, indiscretions and even some girls. It seems that the scandals that leak into the papers are just the tip of the iceberg.
This book is a must read for the football fans. The Secret Player clearly has seen more than his share of eye opening situations and shares them all with the reader with an element of ‘posted without comment’. He makes no pretence that he is angelic and confesses to his share of covering injury, pranking team mates, drinking on tour – all part of the culture.
As noted in the introduction the original Secret Player articles appeared in the monthly football magazine FourFourTwo. Perfect target audience and I feel that the monthly spacing out of the articles would enhance the telling. I read The Secret Player over two sittings in a 48 hour period and found it was a little repetitive (in so far as there are only so many ways to outline opulence, excess, drunken hijinks and conflicts in a team without getting a sense of déjà vu).
The best way to enjoy this book is to pace yourself and take time to work your way through the story. The book is divided into months (as the season unfolds) and putting the book down at the end of a month may help slow down your reading so that you ultimately enjoy it longer.
For football fans and for those that like the gossip this is a cracker. For those that enjoy the Beautiful Game and don’t believe that modern footballers set a good example – best leave this one alone, it will only confirm your suspicions.