I Kick Therefore I Am, by Ronnie Matthews


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The Independent Culture

Spoofing the pensées of professional footballers is a ticklish task, because the thoughts and actions of so many seem beyond parody. Two new publications neatly illustrate the problem.

I Kick Therefore I Am is the distilled wisdom of the fictional Ronnie Matthews, whose career, after a brief high at Leeds, petered out in the lower leagues before Barry Fry offloaded him to Trabzonspor of Turkey in exchange for a carpet. In his one international appearance, against the Faroe Islands, he "unfortunately became the first England player to be sent off on debut for propositioning a female linesperson", while his media career ended when he was thrown out of the Question of Sport green room after "misreading the signals from Tanni Grey-Thompson". He clocked up 24 red cards, and realised he had a drink problem when "I started bringing two hip-flasks to training – one of rum, the other of pureed bananas and glace cherries so I could mix my own daiquiris in the carpark".

And then there is the real-life Roy McDonough, fleetingly at Chelsea. In Red Card Roy (VSP, £12.99) he recalls his record 22 red cards, one for kung-fu kicking Tony Pulis, his 20-pint a day habit, and running off with his best friend's wife.

Both books are often laugh-out-loud funny, but probably only one is meant to be.

Published in hardback by Bloomsbury, £7.99