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In Review: Steak ... Diana Ross - Diary of a Football Nobody

Filed: Sunday, 9th March 2003
By: Graeme Howlett

David McVay (Parrs Wood Press)
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"You would have thought that the point would have pleased the Manchester United fans.Instead they take to the pitch, gouging out huge lumps of Peter's beloved grass and kicking the glass above our dressing room in. Stubbo, who was sent scurrying for cover by the broken glass retaliates with a cup of Albert's tea which keeps them at bay. Then sheer farce as the gaffer emerges with a scalpel, a weapon victorious in defeating the hardest of bunions but untried in this particular theatre of war. "Come on you f*cking bastards, I'll have you" rants Jimmy [Sirrell]. In the darkest hours, laughter prevails ..."

Something of a first for KUMB, this - a review of a book that has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with West Ham United ....

Steak ... Diana Ross (so called as, according to author and former Notts County player David McVay many 70's footballers, in profiles for magazines such as Shoot! gave their favourite food as 'Steak Diana' and favourite musical artiste as 'Diana Ross') is not a journey for the faint hearted, and would have many of today's ill-mannered and over-pampered footballers tossing their copies of Country Life into the air in horror.

For this is a warts and all description of how football used to be, before Sky and the Premier League raped the game for their own greed, and before a legion of semi-talented cheap foreign imports arrived on our shores in search of that filthy lucre.

In the book McVay is a (reasonably) talented 19-year-old, just breaking through to Notts County's first team. It begins - on the site of a rubbish tip (County's training ground) - on General Election Day, 1974, and covers the ups and downs of McVay's career until October 1975, a night when little fancied County pulled of a massive shock by beating the (then) mighty Leeds in an FA Cup replay at Elland Road.

A similar journal today would probably read something like 'trained this morning ... pasta for lunch at San Lorenzo's ... met agent to discuss image rights' ... not McVay's, whose own (hazy) recollection of events in the mid-70's is more 'threw up before training ... pool and billiards in The Feathers ... takeaway, then more beer in The Feathers ... bunk up underneath Trent Bridge on the way home ....'

It's that kind of down to earth comedy which makes 'Steak ... Diana Ross' such a joy to read. For every recount of glamorous FA Cup ties at Elland Road there's ten more about playing for the reserves against the likes of Rochdale or Chesterfield. For every moment of glory there's many more accounts of McVay having the p*ss ripped out of him by Forest fans on the bus home after a(nother) County home defeat.

This book is about football at it's very core. For those of us old enough to remember the game in the 70's it's a welcome trip down memory lane. For the rest of you sit back and enjoy, for this is what the game is (or at least, was) really all about. Forget Sky, forget the Premiership, forget Soccer AM, forget 700m stadium redevelopments. Get 'Steak .. Diana Ross' today and remember football as it was ... as it still should be.

Ina word? Wonderful.

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