Hard As Nails - The Graham Roberts Story
by Graham Roberts with Colin Duncan
Black & White Publishing
ISBN 978 1 84502 225 9
Price : £17.99
A cult hero during his time at Tottenham, Graham Roberts was a no
nonsense defender/midfielder, who always gave to 100% and was an honest
and rugged player. His autobiography is not a lot different, with
a bit of a "warts and all" tale of tale of hard men and sly operators.
Amongst the things revealed in the story
are revealing, touching and in some cases quite extraordinary.
But, you get the feeling that somewhere Graham Roberts has a Jack
Charlton style ''little black book" of names he would like to get
revenge on. The players, managers and chairmen who had upset Robbo
through the years are brave men, as I wouldn't want to be in their shoes
if they came face to face with him again. The book is more
littered with fallings-out than the High Road after a Spurs game.
But there are two real sides to this
story, with Glasgow Rangers being the other half; so much so that you
can turn the dust jacket round to have Roberts in a Spurs shirt or in a
Glasgow Rangers shirt. Yes, there are reminiscences about his time
at Chelsea, West Bromwich Albion and into non-league, but there are
falling outs with names big and small. From his time working at
the dockyards at Southampton through to his fight to clear his name
following incidents arising on a tour of Canada with Clyde, Robbo fights
his corner in the only way he knows. With everything he has got.
It has cost him a lot along the way, but he still wants to show the
world that he is worthy of being given a chance.
The book is written in a forth-right
tone, with a cliché or two too many thrown in, but there are many
revealing passages such as why Micky Hazard never won a cap for England
and why Roberts fell out with Ossie Ardiles. Graham also tells of
an environment which is harsh, especially in the early days of his
career, but it is also a world where good fortune can lead to a fortune
for players who make it to the top. Extending this to the n-th
degree, there was even open trials when he was manager at Clyde to bring
new players into the club !!
Interestingly enough, his comments about
former Spurs and Chelsea striker Kerry Dixon always wanting to have a
fight with Richard Gough ended with a thought that maybe Dixon would get
involved in a charity boxing match and this is exactly what happened
back in May this year (where David Speedie was taken to hospital with
broken ribs following a bout with Steve Sedgley). But there is a
lot in the book about Spurs, Roberts' time with the club and the way he
left. Plus the rest of the book has interest in a general football
sense, but it is the opening half that brings the backroom view of
Tottenham Hotspur FC into the reader's world.
It is something that we will never
experience, but this is the closest we might get.
marco van hip