I've read this book and I have loved it!
The first thing that strikes you about this
book is the fact that footballers can write, and some of them can do so
very well. The author here, Ian Seddon, also used to tread the
same turf as Tommy Banks on the Burnden Park theatre in the early
seventies, as well as playing under 'Big Ron' Atkinson at Cambridge
United in the latter part of that decade. So already that qualifies him
as a genuine writer, someone who know's his stuff. The
'traditional' autobiography uses journalists as ghost writers, and at
best, these are the screamers. That is to say, the one's complaining at
the television screen and the ridiculous foul that has been committed
that to be fair, they only knew about because of the slo-mo replay!
Seddon has walked the same path as Banks, and is therefore justified to
retell his story.
Now I am in danger of retelling this story, and I
really do not want to do that, because I want you to read it. I want you
to make Tommy your new best friend. Because that is what this book
does...imagine yourself listening to the ramblings of an old man over a
pint in the corner of the local pub. And with a smile, you rise
from your seat, and with a quick, curt 'hang on, Tommy. What ya
drinking?'. You sit yourself back down, straddling the stool, pints back
down on the table, ready to resume position and await the next
enthralling chapter. Thats what this book makes you feel like.
This is a history book. It is a history of
Britain and Lancashire recovering from the war. It's a history
that only your grandparents tell you about, not the history that
textbooks want you to believe. I am only forty years of age, I
know nothing of the perils of war. Yes I know about the Gulf Wars, and I
even remember the Falklands War, but they were 'over there', not in my
back garden, affecting me. They were just a story on the Six O'Clock
News, the last bit of television I watched for the day before making my
supper and reaquainting myself with Roy of the Rovers or my Match
Weekly. My life was cotton wool in comparison to Tommy Banks.
Banks didn't cower through the second world war, he worked his arse off,
amongst other things, and when he came of age, he escaped the war by
working in the coalpits. Now, I had no idea that there was another way
to avoid National Conscription in peacetime Britain. My ignorance led to
the belief that objection and failing a medical were the only ways that
you missed out on this service. But no, if you worked in three other
areas, you were exempt from National Service. One of these was coal
mining. Now I didn't know that!! Tsk, tsk to my school years.
Banks did not remain exempt however, and I am
itching to tell you why, but you really must find out for yourself. That
is what makes this book appealling. This generation of people, not just
Tommy Banks, but his peers also. They had so much to battle for, to
battle with. They had nothing. They could gain nothing.
Tommy had every chance to go to a Grammar School, but could not because
his parents simply had no money to spend on his uniform. A case of 'what
if's' at its cruelest.
But lets make it clear, Tommy Banks is not
Stanley Matthews. He did not get up at the crack of dawn and ran
around the block with a football taped to his army boots and committed
himself to do a hundred sit-ups before his first cup of tea in the
day... Banks did get up at the crack of dawn to complete his paper-round
before getting to school, often late, and with chastisement. Banks
did not arrive on a gravel pit of a football pitch every weekend and
play back-to-back games from dusk to dawn, cracking in goals from every
direction and topped league charts all over the county. He did
though, arrive at the farm, and after fulfilling his duties, he
delivered the milk in and around Farnworth.... then handed every penny
he earned through the week to his widowed mother.
Times have changed. The story of Tommy Banks,
from his childhood to becoming a family man and beyond, shows us just
how much. It is a tale worth telling because it is a tale worth reading.
Its from a different era. When people left doors unlocked and children
played out on the road, but they shared bathrooms and outside toilets.
Clothes were hand-me-downs and unbranded, and generally lasted. Health &
Safety was just a fantasy. Its an era long-lost and it will never be
returned. It's as historical as the Vikings and Saxons were. People of
Banks' generation were out of this world. Kids today are just off this
planet. From a time when the difference in necessity is the difference
between shoes and a playstation.
This boy from Farnworth did good. From the turf
of the farmyard to the Burnden Park turf, taking in Wembley and the 1958
World Cup Finals. And if that never gave him nationwide recognition, his
modelling career soon would. But every step, every path he strode down,
he remained pinned to his northern roots, his family-instilled values.
Values that spilled into the professional world of football and its
'lump of coal' wages, and his 'Brother' Matthews speech that sits
comfortably in many a old professional's memory. Nonemoreso because it
could have single-handedly abolished the Maximum Wage in 1961. And
what he did with his 1958 FA Cup Final winning shirt will make you gasp
You can list the accomplishments of many a
magnificient footballer, but I swear to you....not one of them, except
Tommy Banks, will have a musical production in their honour.
Seddon's subtitles throughout this book bring the
tales to life. Tommy always has an input, we just need to know what he's
saying. And increasingly, the astuteness, the cleverness of Banks'
shines through in this terrific book of a genuine footballer that was
good enough, and proud enough, to wear the shirt of England.
Well done Tommy, my new best friend , and well
Tommy Banks...Is this a story that is
any different to the plethora of footballers' autobiographies that
cram the bookshelves of the High Street retailers? The reality is that
this is a story of a very talented, very proud and extremely
honourable and dignified man. A man who recognised the wrongs of the
professional footballers' contracts in the post-war era and, in his
own words and dialect, was determined to "purrit reet." This down to
earth charismatic Farnworth lad played an integral and pivotal role in
changing the way footballers were treated and paid. There is
absolutely no doubt that the celebrity footballers we recognise today
bear no comparison to the men that Tommy took up the cause for.
However they would do well to read, recognise and, most importantly,
respect the part that Tommy and several others played in changing the
landscape of the present modern day footballer. Tommy Banks...family
man, coal miner, hod carrier, Bolton Wanderer and England footballer,
a warm hearted man with a bulldog spirit and a builder of dreams. Ah'm
tellin' thee is a humble, honest and heartfelt account of a local lad
Tommy was astute and quick, wingers didn't like playing
against him, he was belligerent, he would clatter them if required and
played mind games with them - Francis Lee
multi-millionaire footballers owe a great debt to the son of Farnworth
who might well have been formed out of the very coal pits which
featured in that area as he was granite like, a great player, great
person and a great character - Gordon Taylor
I admire him,
a gifted footballer he was also a leader, you could hear him all over
the field roaring out instructions and praise - Dennis Stevens
He had a lot to say on and off the field but knew his football and was
a master of his craft. If you had any soft spot in your make up he'd
exploit it, few if any got the better of him. Every time I see him I
always try to think of something fun to say but he always beats me to
it, a lovely man - Sir Bobby Charlton.
- Amazon synopsis
To buy: Ahm'
These books are available as a
signed copy by both Ian Seddon and Tommy Banks from the Ahm Tellin Thee
website only, and although available worldwide, those outside the
will need to ask for a p&p rate.