Whether there’s something indigenous to the zine culture that spawned When Saturday Comes or the fact that a equally irreverent/ intelligent effort about American sports would more likely end up online than in print (these days, anyway), I can’t say for sure. But let’s hear it for airmail and the excessive overseas subscription fee, otherwise we’d see nothing like it. Not only does the latest WSC include Ian Plenderleith’s survey of mascot websites (“once you’ve got the coveted job, kids pose the bigest threat, in any number of ways. If you get ‘clobbered’ by a kid, don’t retaliate with an eye for an eye, the site advises. Keep cool. And if you decide to hug or pick up a child, ‘don’t let your hand stray to any part of a child (or anyone else) that could be interpreted as unacceptable.’ Mascots have apparently lost their jobs for lesser sins.”) but the book reviews section is a killer, as always.
I have no idea what deranged invididual in the publishing trade decided that TalkSport mouthpieces Alan Brazil and Mike Parry (the former a onetime Scotland international, Ispswich, Man Utd. and Spurs fixture, the latter, a tireless campaigner against speed cameras and immigrants) should combine on Brazil’s autobiography. Simon Price tackles the tome so we don’t have to.
Much space is devoted to Brazil’s temporary sacking, caused by missing a show after going on a bender at Cheltenham, a two-day tabloid wonder which the duo seem to belive to be a major national talking point.
Those who’ve heard Brazil on the radio won’t be taken aback by his bull-in-a-chinashop approach to race relations. In America, he calls a black chaueffeur “Benson” and he reminices about sledging USSR players thus : “It’s back to the salt mines for you tonight, pal, after we’ve welled you, you commie tosser!”
There is a section dealing with Brazil’s experiences in the Celtic Boys’ Club, where he was groped by predatory coach Joames Torbett (eventually convicted with the help of Brazil’s evidence). It is among the book’s most vivid passages, notably with Brazil’s resulting life-long aversion to raspberry-topped ice cream.
He’s touchingly naive about the source of the wealth that surrounds him. “Wow, talk about arriving in style,” he marvels on spotting Roman Abramovich’s megaboat off the coast of Monte Carlo. “I wondered how any one man could acquire enough wealth to be able to maintain a fleet of yachts.”
Yes, how? It isn’t as though the ruthless methods of Abramovich’s ascent to power have been well documented or anything.