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In Review: Wacka - Size Isn't Everything

Filed: Sunday, 30th January 2005
By: Matthew O'Greel

Westpoint Printing
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Play-off Final: Walsall 3, Reading 2. "We were waiting in the lift when some of the Reading lads arrived. 'Going up?' I asked in an off-the-cuff remark. 'No, that's us!' added Keatesy in true Morcambe and Wise comedy-duo style. There was nearly a fight as a couple of them went for us ..."

From first steps to Saddlers hero, this is the colourful story of a wannabe striker turned well-respected goalkeeper who went on to become one of the most popular players ever to turn out for Walsall FC.

Jimmy 'Wacka' Walker joined West Ham on a free transfer in the summer of 2004 following 10 years at Walsall, where he is still idolised. This is his warts n'all story of the years leading up to his move to East London as he overcame a lack of inches to prove, in no uncertain terms, that size really isn't everything.

Walker's career has certainly had its ups and downs; for every promotion there's been a relegation to contend with, and for every success there's been disappointment in equal measure. This is no 'the rise and rise of' - it's a story of an average bloke doing what he loves most; something which endears the reader almost immediately.

Despite being hailed by many he has worked with as one of their favourite and most consistent goalkeepers, it wasn't until last summer that Walker did enough to grab the attentions of a major club (okay, let's not get too carried away here).

Hence the name of the book - Size Isn't Everything. Walker - a reasonably average 5'10" has, over the years, been deemed by many as just not big enough to make it at the top, in an age of 6'4" guardians of the sticks.

Much of which is nonsense of course; Italian goalkeeping legend Dino Zoff was only 5'9", for example, but it never did him any harm.

'Size Isn't Everything' is a great little read, and like David McVay's 'Steak ... Diana Ross - Diary of a Football Nobody' (see earlier review) offers a engaging summary of less-than-glamourous lower-league grass-roots football, a million miles away from the vast wealth of the Premiership (although Jimmy concedes that he'd still like to play there one day - but who wouldn't?)

A self-confessed karaoke junkie (Elvis and Sinatra in particular, in case you ever need to know) Walker (via author Poole) keeps the reader amused with a string of japes and tales from the dressing room, whilst recounting his personal battles with early weight problems, managers and even fellow team mates.

All in all 'Size Isn't Everything' is an enjoyable read which, although a tad on the short side at 150-odd pages, will keep you amused throughout.

Oh, and the manager of Reading when Walker's Walsall beat them in the aforementioned play-off final? One Alan Pardew. And he quite enjoyed the book, apparently ...

* You can purchase 'Wacka: Size Isn't Everything' by sending a cheque for 15 to Andrew Poole, Walsall FC, Bescot Stadium, Bescot Crescent, Walsall, West Midlands WS1 4SA.

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