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Greavsie by Jimmy Greaves

Release date: 04th December, 2003
Publisher: Time Warner Books

List Price: 18.99
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In 1979, years before Tony Adams and Paul Merson revealed their respective addiction to drink, Jimmy Greaves published an autobiography, "This One's On Me" the tone of which was established by the opening the no-nonsense line: "My name is Jimmy Greaves. I am a professional footballer and an alcoholic." The book described Greaves' slow descent into an alcohol-induced fog which wrecked his career and his marriage and was, like a former team mate of the man himself, years ahead of its time.

Greaves' latest foray into print is an altogether more detailed affair and thankfully one which is not afraid to pull punches. Consider, for example, Greavsie's comment on the mediocre imports to the Premiership - one which will resonate with football supporters throughout the land. Greaves believes there is no doubt that some overseas players have added to the spectacle of English football, "But" he asks, "what of expensive imports like Igor Biscan or Tomas Repka?" Warming to his theme in a manner to suggest he is much a fan as anyone, he is concerned that, "for every Henry or Vieira there are half a dozen Lilian Laslandes and Titi Camaras."

As in 1979, Greaves is at pains to describe the hold that drink had on him and his remarkable capacity to consume the stuff. The tale of his New Year's jaunt into Blackpool while he was playing for West Ham (the night before an FA Cup tie which looked as if would be postponed) is indicative. While Clyde Best made do with a Coke all night, Greaves managed to down twelve lagers and remained stone cold sober. The following day, West Ham suffered an ignominious 4-0 defeat.

Clearly professional sportsmen (Tony Adams is a fine example) could sweat the booze out of their systems because they were so fit and Greaves tells of his attempts to occupy himself by playing tennis, squash or golf, but still he returned to the bottle.

Unlike the earlier autobiography, however, the brief of the 2003 version is much less condensed and more enjoyable as a consequence.

Nevertheless, there is one aspect which underpins both books, Greaves' remarkable goalscoring record. He became the youngest player in the history of the English game to score 100 League goals and during a career which spanned 14 years, he scored 491 senior goals including 44 in 57 England appearances.

Greavsie has recovered from his alcoholism and adapted well to the role of the football fan's favourite uncle. Like all good uncles, he tells a good tale.


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