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After reading quite a heavy book in the form of Alan Lomax's biography, I opted for something much lighter. Despite being an avid footie fan, I've never read much in the way of football biographies, rather than picking out one of the pampered players of today, I decided to go for a cheap second hand copy of Stuart Pearce's biography which takes on the title of his nickname 'Psycho'.
I felt Pearce losing his job as England U21 coach, a tad unfair - admittedly his reign has not been sprinkled with success but the players have really let him down. He's a good coach and a very grounded guy with principals. As a player, I recall him fearless in the tackle and a real tough cookie, he was a hard man for his size. I remember the back end of his days as a Forest player, as well as his Newcastle, West Ham and Man City years but a lot of the earlier stuff was all new to me.
Pearce is not really the mentalist that people make out, he was in fact a very professional player and if you're expecting wild stories you might find in the biographies of Adams, Merson and Gazza, you won't find that sort of stuff here. Although some of the other player's antics do get a little bit of a mention and we get to hear about Pearce's thoughts on them.
The book is well written, it flows nicely and each chapter is engaging, I'm the kind of guy who can usually only fit in around 30 mins of reading before I go to sleep or occasionally on the bus and the chapters are about the right size. I was fortunate enough to be on holiday while I read some of this book and have to say it's a bit of a page-turner, so much so that I forgot to put sun block on and ended up getting badly sun burned!
The book was penned about 11 years ago, so you won't find out anything about his days as Man City manager or inclusion in the England setup but he does make some interesting predictions such as: that Carrick will be more successful Cole. It starts with his school boy years and brushes with the law, then goes on to cover his early days as a non-league player at Wealdstone, his move to Coventry and days at Forest, his relationship with Clough and the downfall of his beloved club. We can read about his family life, his wife, his horses, his troubles at Newcastle with Ruud Gullit but one of the things that comes through the most is his love for playing for England, his opinions on the England managers and his pride in playing for his country 78 times. He talks about how he felt after missing penalties and his admiration for the Germans, who did not rub his nose in it.
Psycho is an interesting book that's easy to read, he's not the most exciting individual but he's done a lot and comes across as a thoroughly nice guy, if you're looking for some light reading, give this a go.
What people remember of Stuart Pearce can be summed up in two penalties. The first against Germany, the semi-final of Italia ’90 where he and Chris Waddle missed to put England out, then in Euro ‘96 against Spain he clear delight at scoring. Those images are etched with me, and others I am sure, but there is more to the man than those two moments. ‘Psycho’ can be a representative of his character as a player, but is also the title of his autobiography. I really don’t like it when pop stars or footballers release a best selling autobiography in their mid-twenties. What can they have achieved in that time? Stuart Pearce has been around, he is an interesting person, with a great story. From growing up in London, his football career, love of horses, family life, and plenty of great stories along the way this is a great book, one of my favourite football autobiographies I have read. Stuart Pearce has had a very good career, and is still going strong. Football plays a big part to him, and this book fully covers all his football life, for the local teams, Forest under the charismatic Brian Clough, West Ham and Newcastle. Pearce was a late starter from today’s young stars that have been with clubs since they were 8 years old, he has had to work for all he has got, being picked from the non-league scene to a regular for England. Not bad at all. Along the way he had picked up plenty of stories, especially with Clough, such as an away game at Millwall, notoriously tough area where Clough made the Forest team walk the last 250 yards to the ground through all the fans away from the safety of the team bus, and many more. It will clearly help having an interest in football, though not essential but it does help to know the background. The book also includes much of Pearce’s early life. Growing up in a tough district of London he has strong ideals in life, even when he had made it in football he is thankful o
f what he has got. Not like the younger generation of John Terry and Jody Morris who have too much money too young. He came into the game late, having been a fully trained electrician again he takes nothing for granted and accepts all he gets graciously. There are again some run ins with the boys in blue (not Chelsea), and he has had a very close escape from a car crash. Pearce also has a large interest in horse racing, clearly he does enjoy the horses, not betting or winning money, but cares for the horses. He is also happily married with kids, again he is close to them which comes out well in this book. Stuart Pearce has been a regular in the left back role for England for many years, and has played in some very memorable games. Who can forget his penalty against Spain in Euro ’96, such a great picture of a release of emotions after missing one in Italy six years ago in the semis against the Germans. Also the free kick against France that hammered the bar, in the same game a nasty incident involving him and an elbow. He has had a great career internationally, again he has a lot of stories to tell, but he is clearly very proud of this, full commitment whenever he pulled on the White of England, and this comes across in the words. The book is written by Bob Harris, a famous sports writer himself. I am always a bit dubious when I see a book written by someone I consider is not a literary genius, which Pearce is not, and probable would never claim to be. Still this book is clearly what Stuart wanted to say, there is very little editing, it comes out just as Pearce would have said it, and nothing is lose. It is not glossed over, or exaggerated to make it a better read, it is just a good account of an interesting footballer. The book is out in paperback, and hardback. I picked my paperback up for £6.99, look around though. There are a selection of pictures of Pearce in his playing career, as well as general life photos in the book, as w
ell as the cover photograph being very good. Well there you have it, even when I write about books, I still manage to write about football. I like Pearce as a player, and a person. This book is very interesting, but you do not need to be a huge football fan to enjoy it. He is not bigheaded, as many footballers may seem today, but is a good honest bloke, who has worked hard for all he has got and I believe he fully deserves it. This book may not be the best written piece you will ever read, but is very enjoyable.
Psycho, that is a phrase that could be applied to my so-called pet giraffe, Geoffrey the mad mohican giraffe. But it also happens to be the nickname of one of England's best-loved footballers of recent times. Coventry, Nottingham Forest, Newcastle, West Ham and now Manchester City have been and are being graced with his presence, not to mention at the start of his career, non-league Wealdstone. A man that has been managed by Brian Clough, Kevin Keegan, Glen Hoddle, Harry Redknap, Ruud Guillit and Bobby Robson; I don't think you could find a more charismatic list, especially when you add Bobby Gould. Oh and I am forgetting that penalty miss in the world cup of 1990 and the penalties scored in the European Championships of 1996. Who can forget the expression on Pearce's face when he scored his penalty against Spain? Not me and so as a person who does not really like books by or about footballers, I plumped for this one, well it was half price on Amazon after all. Ghost written by Bob Harris, an old time sports writer, who went on to set up the UK's first dedicated sports paper, Sports First, Pearce's autobiography traces his career from being on the books with QPR as a boy all the way through to his current club Manchester City. What is Pearce's view of Clough, the legend, the man who never quite seemed to live on this planet? I am not going to tell you, you will have to read the book! Come on you do not want it spoiled do you? OK, just a little extract. Pearce on Clough. "The peculiarities extended way beyond our frequent coach journeys. He was in the habit of taking the boys for a walk on the morning of a big game and would suddenly come across a tree. "This" he said, pointing at the tree, "is a punch tree. You have got to punch it, it is lucky!"" Psycho, gives Pearce's account of all aspects of his life, his time as an electrician, the travails he suffered under the ha
nds of Guillit at Newcastle, his private life (including meticulous preparations for his matches), the move from non-league football to the big time with Coventry City, an England debut and appearances at two major tournaments and of course penalties. Pearce and penalties are like hand and glove and the psychological and emotional aspects are revealed in the book, what he thought and felt. Oh and I can tell you that Pearce like me hates Liverpool FC. The subject matter will interest most sports fans, but does the books style hold your attention? It does, is the short answer, the book is written in Pearce's honest blunt talking style, he says what he thinks and does not care if you will agree or be offended. Pearce does not say what he thinks will be good for him and his account of his fall out between him and Clough is interesting reading with no holds barred. It would appear that Harris's input is minimal; perhaps some polishing of parts, but in reading the book you can almost hear Pearce speak the words. The style is easy to read and flows well, some autobiographies are a real bind to read, the style is flat and monotone, but not this one. So full marks for style. Where Pearce does spoil his no punches agenda, is towards the end of the book, where it reads as a come and get me, I will make a good manager plea. I was left feeling that the book was part of an agenda to get Pearce into management, but perhaps I am being a cynic. However, Psycho has a major flaw, it is too long and poorly structured. I concede that in writing your life story some events will repeat in the book as they marked a major point in your life, but with this book it goes beyond a joke. How many times are the same phrases used over penalties, how many times are you told the same thing about Coventry or Forest. Well the answer is a lot, in the first part of the book, the same facts and anecdotes are repeated and repeated. Perhaps, again I do Pearce a diss
ervice, as the latter part of the book does not suffer from this problem, perhaps the repetition is due to the fact that the further away the events the poorer Pearce?s memory of them and thus the constant return to key events. But why Harris did not use a greater strike through when editing I do not know, but then would you argue with Stuart Pearce? Not me. Lets give you another example of Clough the nutter: Pearce has just signed for Nottingham Forest and Clough asks him if he is going on holiday, Pearce replies that he is off to Disneyland: ""Are you taking your girlfriend" he asked "No" I replied "I am going with a mate" "What's the matter son?" he came back "are you queer or something?" He had only just signed me but in a matter of minutes he had hammered me for being a lying b*stard, for being a drinker and now for being a homosexual." Psycho is an excellent account of two decades of football, written by a footballer that has always given his all for club and country. If you are remotely interested in sport, this will be a read that interests you, if not, just read the two chapters about Brian Clough for chuckle after chuckle. Psycho is blunt, it is Pearce's one sided view of events, but what you are left with is a sense that Pearce is a guy you would want on your side, a likeable guy, not a pampered pre-madonna. What can I say, give it a read, dip in and out of it, just do not expect a literary masterpiece. I now apologise for the following intervention, Geoffrey the mad mohican giraffe wanted to give you his view. First, I am not Psycho, I only scalp people that annoy me. Now that is out of the way, I want to tell you to read this book, it has crunching tackles, blood and gore. Stuy Pearce kicks lots of players around the pitch and they all deserved it. Stuy is a great footballer and I like his style and his book is interesting to a giraff
e. He never played for Tottenham but I like him cos he always kicks players, but not too dirtily. But he would never be able to kick me, cos I would scalp him. Anyway, read this book, it has nutters in it and horses and I like horses. Sorry. Psycho is now available in paperback, it costs £6.99, is published by Headline and is 424 pages long. Oh and the picture on the cover is great. It gets three stars due to the repetition, but there are some interesting facts and views in this book.
You don't have to be a West Ham or Forest fan to buy Stuart Pearce's autobiography, it appeals to all audiences....even German penalty savers in 1990. From his early playing days, through his brief managerial period at Nottingham Forest and unhappy time under Ruud Gullit all the way to the present at the happy hammers of Upton Park. A true English legend who always plays with his heart on his sleeve and is a big hero of mine. I'd recommend this book to absolutely anyone as it's a brilliant read and gives a true, honest insight into professional football and most importantly.....the tricks and trades of Brian Clough!
Blunt autobiography from the England footballer and taker of 'that' penalty in 1996.