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The Tin Man By Ted McMinn with Robin Hutchison

Release date: 21st October, 2008
Publisher: Black & White Publishing

List Price: £17.99
Our Price: £12.59
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As both Ally McCoist and Mark Wright point out in their respective forewords to the Tin Man, based upon first appearances, no-one would have imagined that Ted McMinn was, or could be, a professional footballer. Wright describes him as "ungainly with hunched shoulders", while McCoist is even less complimentary: "Forget the film star good looks," he says, "he was a big gangly thing with no two parts hanging the right way."

Both men offer their view as a precursor to the extraordinary tale of a man whose first club used scratch cards to sign him and who eventually engendered great affection amongst fans everywhere.

Without being mawkish, author Robin Hutchison has done a marvellous job assisting Ted in the re-telling of his story. It would have been easy to opt for sympathy from the outset, but instead, readers are promised an uplifting, often very funny, account of Ted McMinn's life. Stories of Cristal champagne, WAGS and million-pound contracts are conspicuously absent, although Ted acknowledges he's been incredibly lucky, despite losing his right leg÷

The affable McMinn was one of four brothers abandoned by his mother at the age of six, leaving his father to bring them up single-handed on Dumfries' Lochside estate. Yet what was an almighty setback for a young child failed to prevent his innate talent from blossoming.

Ted proved to be an exceptionally gifted footballer and when offered either £5,000 to sign for Kilmarnock or £325 plus £1,000-worth of lottery-style scratch cards to put pen to paper at Queen of the South, his local club, he opted for the latter. The book is full of similarly amusing anecdotes.

Before long, his performances at Palmerston Park were sufficiently impressive to persuade Rangers to pay £100,000 for his services. This time, the signing-on fee amounted to £20,000 and there's a wonderfully poignant moment afterwards when Ted and his dad walk to the directors box at an empty Ibrox and survey the magnificent scene in silence.

Unfortunately for Ted, Jock Wallace, the manger who signed him (and later took him to Sevilla) was later sacked, only to be replaced by an abrasive Graeme Souness. There is little doubt that the men never really gelled and eventually, after making comprehensive use of some hard-hitting industrial vocabulary after Ted had broken a curfew, Souness confirmed that Ted would never play for Rangers again.

A short spell reunited with Wallace in Spain followed before Ted made it to Derby County where he is still revered - more than 33,000 turned out at Pride Park for his testimonial.

There are some fine asides, such as his ill-fated jaunt to Australia, that provide the narrative with great pace, while a succession of characters from Granny Peggy to wives aplenty ensure this is that rare breed - a sporting page-turner. Ironically, it was a woman he had known for years who came to his rescue on the eve of his journey Down Under who ultimately proved to be the one.

Pre-armed with the knowledge of what eventually happened to Ted, it becomes evident that the cumulative effect of the progressively worsening leg and foot injuries he suffered were likely to culminate with his leg amputation. A period of depression ensued, but being an ebullient character, the Tin Man emerged, still full of optimism and humour. Sports fans will feel the same after they finish reading this heart-warming account.

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