Rick Broadbent - Mainstream Publishing £9.99
- ISBN 1-84018-351-9
always been a terrible burden being a fan of Leeds United, and
sports journalist Rick Broadbent knows that better than most.
His love affair with the club began just as the Revie
era closed in the mid-70s, and he tells it thus: "I first
became a true Leeds fan in 1975. I can vividly recall sitting
around the kitchen table in a Cornish holiday cottage with my
parents and brothers, listening to the European Cup Final on a
crackly transistor radio. When Leeds lost, my dad and elder brother
cried. I was six and figured this football thing must really be
something, to reduce a grown man and an anguished adolescent to
tears. Later I would wonder how it was that we ended up in a remote
Cornish village without a television, if it really meant that
much to them, but for now I was hooked. Line and sinker."
We for whom the magic white shirts are akin to an
altar at which to pay tribute share that feeling and will love
this book as much as Broadbent obviously loved writing it. Looking
For Eric - In Search of the Leeds Greats is a wonderful, wonderful
book with Broadbent setting off on a quest to find the once cult
hero of Elland Road - Eric Cantona
- now better known as the Gallic inspiration behind Manchester
United's dominance of the Premiership between 1993 and 1997, and
hated almost as much as the latest Judas Iscariot, Rio Ferdinand.
As he seeks in vain to track down the gifted Frenchman, Broadbent
stops off at the turns to offer us a loving portrait of a number
of the greatest players who have donned the white shirt and trod
the hallowed turf of Elland Road.
We get highly individual and marvellously observed
chapters on Gordon Strachan, Tony Currie, Eddie Gray, Peter Lorimer,
Bobby Collins, John
Charles, Allan Clarke, Lucas Radebe, Albert
Johanneson, Billy Bremner, Johnny Giles, Jack
Charlton, Norman Hunter, David Batty, Michael Bridges, Stephen
McPhail, Harry Kewell, Nigel Martyn and, of course, that man Cantona.
If you're a Leeds fanatic, your mouth will be watering
at the mere thought of what you get here.
Broadbent uses the opportunity to tell the story
of the club from the 1950s and John Charles up to the end of the
1999-2000 season which ended so tragically with the death of two
Leeds fans during their UEFA Cup tie with Galatasaray, and does
so with a rare eloquence and masterful touch.
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since a 'dodgy' referee and a crackly transistor radio reduced
his family to tears as they listened to the 1975 European
Cup final, Rick Broadbent has been both blessed and cursed
to be a Leeds United fan. Looking For Eric is the story
of his quest to track down the legends of Elland Road and
discover if they lived, breathed, ate, slept, loved and
hated Leeds just as he had - or was it just a day job? In
the course of his travels, Broadbent gathers first hand
accounts of the best and worst moments in the club's history,
including the championship triumphs, cup shocks and the
European controversies, as well as unearthing some intriguing
stories and anecdotes. We hear Peter Lorimer's description
of Don Revie's neuroses,
learn the real reasons behind Gordon Strachan's departure,
appreciate Tony Currie's account of his battle with the
bottle and discover who had a bust-up with the legendary
individual portraits of players like Billy Bremner and Eddie
Gray into a colourful history of a club that has inspired
so many emotions, Looking For Eric culminates in an amusing
account of the author's journey overseas on the trail of
the genius - Cantona.
quest provides a revealing insight into the life of the
professional footballer and is by turns tragic, comic, farcical,
scandalous and heart-rending. Looking For Eric is partly
travelogue, partly sport biography, wholly Leeds.
We get rare insights into an extraordinary football
story, as the club came from nowhere to dominate the English and
European games before fading back to the second division after
the departure for the England job of manager Don Revie, and then
climbing back under Howard Wilkinson to the top before becoming
the bright new hopes as the New Millennium dawned. It's a roller
coaster ride and Broadbent recounts it with affection and wit.
We miss out on such names as Duncan McKenzie, Tony
Yeboah, Gary McAllister, Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, Frank Worthington
and Gary Sprake, but few real fans could argue with the list of
players whom Broadbent features, and he skillfully captures the
essence of Leeds United.
He never did find the elusive French genius of the
title, but he manages to create a fitting tribute to the wonder
of Elland Road. If Leeds United Football Club means anything at
all to you, I urge you to read this book.
"Eric was different, all right. And as he stood
on the hastily constructed podium outside Leeds Town Hall he blew
kisses to the massed ranks of Leeds fans, who has begun to gather
early that morning to pay homage to the newly crowned Division
One champions. Then, like his team-mates before him, Eric took
the microphone and a baited hush hung over the crowd. I caught
the eyes of a heavily tattooed skinhead, a painted Tricolour segmenting
his face, and I felt an unlikely bond. For all the affection in
which we held this Frenchman, who had been unknown to all but
the saddest of Europhile anoraks just a few months earlier, we
had rarely heard him speak. It was said he didn't parle anglais,
but you sensed that was an expedient excuse he employed to avoid
being interviewed. Now Eric took centre stage once more and, in
tones dripping with continental charm, said simply 'I don't know
why, but I love you'."
Vive Les Blancs...
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