Tuesday 25 June 2019

Nothing new in yet another book by a Liverpool legend

Jimmy Case is just the latest in what seems like an endless line of Liverpool players from the glory days of the seventies and eighties to release an autobiography.

Indeed, he is the third to last player from the historic 1977 European Cup winning team to put pen to paper.

In essence, it means there's nothing really new to see here.

That feeling is not helped by the largely vanilla content that really just scrapes the surface rather than digging deep into the entertaining stories of one of the games greatest ever teams - a side that went on to win four 'big ears' in seven years.

'Hard Case' - a title fitting to the player himself, known as one of the toughest tacklers in British football history - was ghost written by Andrew Smart and it has to be said, he does a pretty good job putting this together, making it simple for the reader and producing a flow.

He moves through Case's career in the game, spanning over two decades, from his time as a schoolboy, through the non-league system in and around his native Liverpool, to his big move to the Anfield club and beyond. It is, by and large, a feel good story of local scallie done good.

Saying that, Case's Liverpool didn't last as long as he hoped, long spells with Brighton and Hove Albion and Southampton followed before he retired as one of the oldest ever professional outfield players at the age 41.

There are a few laughs along the way but that's not a central feature of the book.

For example, there's an interesting antidote on then Watford chairman Elton John and his choice of drink. There is also a fantastic story of Shankly's attempts at getting into the heads of opponents as they walk into the away dressing room at Anfield.

The heart-warming aspect of the book comes from Case's relationship with his best friend Ray Kennedy.

Former Arsenal and Liverpool star Kennedy struggled towards the end of his career with the early onset of Parkinson's disease and while it's horrible to read about how someone can be struck down like that, it's fantastic that a bond built in football has lasted over thirty years after.

Number 13 is unlucky for some and it's got to be said Case seems to cross into the twilight zone in the chapter of the same number, entitled 'Liverpool are back'. As if another example was needed of a player from yesteryear talking illogically about the current era then the former Liverpool midfielder provides it here.

He manages in one chapter to go from rightfully saying not a whole lot about anything but himself to a one peculiar assertion after another on Liverpool in recent years. His eulogising over Brendan Rodgers is particularly cringe-worthy given the clubs current run - their joint worst start to a league season in 50 years.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and Case states his in that chapter, that's fine.

The biggest problem is that it's completely out of context with the rest of the book, and with the final chapter that follows.

It was Smart's only big mistake not hitting the 'delete' button on the whole 18 pages.

So as you drift from shop to shop, picking up the best bargains from the post Christmas sales, is this one to put in the basket? It's not going to win any awards but on a cold New Year's afternoon by the fire, feet up with nothing on the TV you could do worse. In hardback it's a nice one to add to the collection.

Gorey Guardian