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We All Live in a Perry Groves World - Perry Groves
Member Name: thedevilinme
We All Live in a Perry Groves World - Perry Groves
Date: 24/10/07, updated on 24/10/07 (123 review reads)
Advantages: Funny and easy to read
Disadvantages: Could be ghost written
As it’s nearly Halloween I couldn’t think of a more appropriate book to review. Not because this is particularly haunting or anything, but because there’s definitely a ghost around-the bloke who obviously wrote it!
From the little I do know about Perry Groves before I read this enjoyable autobiography was that he probably couldn’t even write his name, let alone this hilarious football book that sold surprisingly well over the summer. Therefore at least half the credit should go to co-writer John McShane. The dust cover also bellows plenty of acclaim, The Guardian hack saying its: “bloody brilliant’, The Telegraph coming back with: “A Publishing phenomena”. The more erudite Times settled for: “Compulsive reading”. When the broadsheets like a football book you know its good stuff!
Groves (the ex Arsenal attacking player from the late eighties and early nineties if you didn’t know) is a bit of a knob. He says as much in this surprisingly funny and honest biography, which immediately attracts you to it, and to be fair it’s a better read because of that. Like I say, whether he actually wrote it is a different matter, but it’s certainly his thoughts on paper, which is all that matters when it comes to sports big’s, like it does for players to do these when they are retired so able to pi** more people off in the game. Who on this planet wants to buy books like ‘Rooney: My story’, when the kid is just turned twenty?
As the dressing room prankster at Colchester United, Arsenal (and for about ten minutes, Southampton), Perry always loved his booze, women and a bet or two- in that order. As a member of the notorious ‘Tuesday Club’ at the Arsenal he was in trouble more than he should have been. In fact he is still a bit of a boozer today, last seen pitching up at these veteran five-aside tournaments with gut and 4-pac in hand.
Reading this book there seems to be few likable qualities to the man. The fact he doesn’t list his career achievements at the back of the autobiography-which there were many-and doesn’t waste time thanking thousands of people for making him the man he clearly isn’t, just telling it like it is, is one of the plusses. Groves is a walking footballing cliché in every way. He is certainly not the most honorable bloke, and definitely a man who isn’t worried about his reputation.
The early days…
Born a ‘Ginga’ in rural Suffolk to an Irish dad and Essex mom, he was quickly labeled as the school a gypo, the ethnic minority of 80s East Anglia at the time, as he puts it. Dad was competitive to say the least, saving every shot on the park kick-around with his boy, hitting it just as hard when they swapped around. But dad wanted him to use the talent he had and his tough training tactics paid off in the longer run, a younger Perry playing in older age groups his talent deserved, helping to fast track his career.
Moving through the ranks of Essex football he was soon on the books for Colchester, various schoolboy trials with Wolves and Palace not working out. His starting wage was £16 per week in the early 80s, the same age he debuted, still Colchester’s youngest ever debutante, soon inflicting his hubris on the three mangers he was under there, even telling Ipswich cup hero Roger Osborne-on his way down the league ladder-”to pass the f**king ball old man”, not exactly endearing himself to his team mates at such a young and cocky age. But that was Perry and he reflects that confidence through the book.
His first ever goal for Colchester had Perry scrambling to see his name in the national press, but reported as ‘Tommy Grouse’ in the News of the World! By 1984 he was a big player for the team and on £150 per week, doing enough good things for George Graham to make the utility forward player his first Arsenal signing, coincidently Perry’s club he supported as a kid. In the books pictures and photographs it actually shows the Arsenal contract Perry signed and it lists all the bonuses they can earn. It’s quite interesting to see how lucrative those extras are, senior players even picking up win bonuses for being injured and not involved for up to three months. Perry earned 8 grand up front for his 75k move and a £350 per week wage, plus a likewise win bonus, plus £150 for playing in the lesser cups. He also talks about betting on games, as did many of the players, talking about these quirky bets like first throw-in, in the same breath...
The Arsenal player…
Arsenal did everything with class, even the player’s bus having waiter service. Graham installed pride in his team and made them all wear blazers to show that unity. You are playing for ‘The Arsenal’ now, he would say, an attitude that delivered them trophies and huge success thereafter.
Now he was an Arsenal player Perry quips that the more you earn and the higher the league ladder you play the more attractive you become to women. 80% of footballers get divorced within three years of retiring because of that contrasting lifestyle before and after, Grooves not even making it a week after he kicked the final ball of his worthy career. It seems footballing wives are there only for the money and glamour and when that runs out, she runs out, the house and maintenance a nice pay-off for all his dalliances, which Perry admits were plenty. His earliest chat up lines where asking pretty girls to be ‘goal posts’ on the local parks, football very much his first love as a kid.
As you would expect some players didn’t get on with the cocky upstart, Charlie Nicholas particularly unimpressed by the noisy ginger. As you would expect he got on with the likes of Adams, Merson and Winterburn, the notorious Tuesday Club. Not only is Perry honest about the players he liked and disliked in his career but he is surprisingly candid about the things he did wrong in his Arsenal career, owing up to a spot of ticket touting an example of. In those days first team players got 25 free tickets for big cup finals and 100 at cost price, most players handing them over a big chunk of their allocation to the notorious Stan Flashman to sell on, Groves earning three grand for his block for the 1984 Littlewoods Cup Final.
Because English clubs were banned from Europe back then the Littlewoods Cup final was a big event, Arsenal eventually beating Liverpool 2-1, their eighth Wembley final in ten years. It was an impressive win because Ian Rush scored the first goal. In the previous 145 games when Rush had scored they hadn’t lost, Liverpool finishing in the top two of the league for 19 years straight because of this guy. But not this year.
The biggest match in his Arsenal career was that game, the Friday night when Arsenal stole the championship from Liverpool at Anfield, a place where the Gunners hadn’t won for 18 years. George Graham’s brave decision to play David O’Leary as sweeper seemed to upset Liverpool’s rhythm. But all Liverpool needed to do was not lose more than 1-0 for their 8th championship in ten years, an unprecedented treble-double on. But we all know what happened and Michael Thomas went down in Arsenal folklore, his last minute winner clipped past the amble Bruce Grobelar, both leaving it late to make critical decisions. It truly was an astonishing match.
Another championship later, Groves and George Graham’s careers would come to inglorious ends, Graham for taking bungs, Grooves for playing like he was taking bungs. With players like Limpar and Smith coming in, Groves felt he was their stuntmen, bought on at tricky times in the game to replace them for a good kicking. When Arsenal were playing in the Charity Shield final at Wembley, Groves was playing for the reserves at Wembley F.C in 1993. A 750K move to Southampton didn’t work out and an early retirement beckoned when the arhiles snapped, semipro at Altringham for £250 a game his final match.
I had heard good things about this biography as it was an honest and non regretful account of top league player who left the game just as it became big money. In those days at Arsenal it was all about the craic, as well as the winning, this book reflecting just that on a minor 80s Arsenal cult legend. They still sing his songs today at the Emirates. The title of the book one is still the most popular. I think you can work out the tune that goes with it. If Arsenal fans can then I’m bloody sure you guys can.
Although one too many apostrophes for my liking here it does read very easily, the longest word being archilles tendon, the heel of any footballers scrawlings. It’s funny and revealing, pacey and naughty, the short chapters making it classic holiday reading. At Booker Prize time of the year its always wordy intense books that seem to get short listed, yet its book like this that get purchased and read. I’m not remotely suggesting this should win any awards for literal genius but I am saying its books in this style that normal people want to read. Arsenal and sports fans will giggle away for ages and this and already it’s in my top ten sports book of the year in my particular awards season. Groves may have been a ginger c**t but he has a very funny book awaiting sports fans attentions as the nights close in.
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Published in softback and sold huge amounts…
WH SMITHS £7.99 (But have a two for one chart or best seller offer next week for school hols..)
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Summary: Funny laddish footy book
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