With well over 700 League team appearances to his name, Garry Nelson has an encylopaedic knowledge of the game, past and present. Now the former Charlton player and self-confessed journeyman footballer has recorded a day-by-day, month-by-month account of the myriad shocks, demands, doubts and decisions that he finds confronting him as rookie player-coach of Third Division Torquay United. One moment he's locking horns with the financial director, the next he's placating a disgruntled YTS apprentice. From being in the company of a persistent media hack to a hacking thug of a centre-back, Garry Nelson's account of the highs and lows of soccer's have-nots is an eye-opener to the problems and pleasures, triumphs and disasters experienced by a lowly club struggling to survive in the game.
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“one of the most enjoyable of this year’s crop of sporting tapes… His diary, which Garry Nelson reads himself with a nice bounce, offers a truly fascinating picture of the day-to-day crises in the less-exposed end of the professional game.”
In the spring of 1996 Garry Nelson found himself at a crossroads in his career. 'Left Foot Forward'his account of a year in the life of a journeyman footballer, had brought him huge acclaim and bestseller status. But now his club Charlton Athletic were letting him go. After eighteen seasons as a professional player, he was out of a job.
A move into marketing?…Or journalism, perhaps?…maybe even a small business? No, Nelson's love of the game would not let him walk away so easily. Even though coming from the Football League's bottom club, an offer to join Torquay as player-coach was one he could not refuse. No less resistible was the urge to begin charting the highs, if any, and the many lows of life down among football's perennial strugglers.
Overnight, Garry Nelson found himself both a player and back room boy. With one foot in either camp, he now needed all his powers of observation. From temperamental mini-star and no-hoper reject through to the desperate search for players and the never-ending financial problems…this account of Torquay's struggle to rise from the grave captures the essence of what English football is all about. As he takes in wider issues such as FIFA, England in Georgia and the funding of soccer, Nelson's sharp comparisons and ironic contrasts soon make it clear that he is writing not only about Torquay but about scores of English clubs, from the likes of Mansfield Town to Manchester United.
'Left Foot in the Grave' is no fashionable attempt to clamber on the contemporary bandwagon on sports literature. Written by a veteran footsoldier still involved at the very heart of the game, a fledgling manager at the very bottom of the football pile, it communicates not how the beautiful game appears to the bystander but, simply, how it is – from the inside. English football has never been more authentically portrayed.
Anthony Fowles, who also collaborated with Garry Nelson on his first book 'Left Foot Forward', was educated at the Universities of Oxford and Southern California and, to a further degree, at Craven Cottage. An initial career as a film maker subsequently refined itself into the authorship of numerous novels and screenplays. The birth of a son in Los Angeles led to his returning to the UK to settle in south-east London where, by inevitable process, he has become an unreconsructible supporter of Charlton Athletic.
"Don't be lured into believing anyone who has spent their career splashing about in the lower divisions can't possibly write a book that stands up to critical acclaim. How wrong you would be"
NEIL HARMAN, 'Daily Mail'
"Garry Nelson is a shrewd observer, blessed with a sensitivity which footballers are not supposed to possess"
PATRICK COLLINS, 'Mail on Sunday'
"Fear is Nelson's companion; fear lit with occasional shafts of relief. And that is what sport is about"
SIMON BARNES, 'The Times'
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Book Description HarperCollinsWillow, 1997. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0002187736