Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Review of Only a Game? by Eamon Dunphy (Viking 1976)
The real strengths of the book are the level of reflexivity and that Dunphy doesn’t pull any punches. The narrative does more than describe a season, but tries to explain and to provide a real insight into the mind and life of a player and a club. Moreover, Dunphy tells it exactly how he sees it and he doesn’t spare the blushes of players or coaches. He is scathing about the professionalism of the coaching routines, the facilities, the manager’s decisions, how the game was being run by chairmen and directors, players who he felt were not being ‘true’ pros, and forensically picks apart the strengths and weaknesses of opposition teams. He’s equally open about his own performances and shortcomings, including his emotion turmoil at being dropped and his frank exchanges with his manager. There are some silences - he never really discusses the role of his family and friends, barely discusses journalists and the role of the media, or the fans. Instead the book very much focuses on the players and coaching staff. Having now read the book, it is easy to see how he sided with Roy Keane in the Saipan affair - Only a Game? details the same frustrations Dunphy had whilst at Millwall as Keane had for the Irish international set-up; and like Keane, Dunphy was obsessed with professionalism. Overall, an interesting book that gives real insight into the beautiful game.