Making the Grade, by Stan Osborne
Sunday 28 April 2013
The start of Stan Osborne's story follows a path common to many such autobiographies: football-mad youngster from a working-class background makes a name for himself in schools football as a striker, is spotted by scouts and invited to sign as an apprentice for the local club he fervently supports, in his case Everton.
So far, so Wayne Rooney, but Osborne's story has a very different ending. His book's title is ironic, as he did not make the grade as far as Everton were concerned, leaving the club at 18 after two years in 1971, then playing only at semi-pro level. Despite his brusque dismissal by the manager, Harry Catterick – "Right, you can go then. Close the door on your way out" – he says, "However briefly, I'd lived the dream". And his vivid account of those years will grip anyone, Everton fan or not, interested in the way things were.
His prose isn't stylish, but its colloquial immediacy, laced with humour, keeps the narrative bowling along. Given how few young players break into the top flight, it is interesting to note the fate of his fellow apprentices: of a 17-strong squad, six graduated to first-team football at Goodison – two of them played only twice – while another two went on to other League clubs.
Osborne resumed his education, becoming a PE teacher and subsequently a primary school headmaster. On this evidence, his pupils were lucky to have him.
Published in paperback by Legends Publishing, £9.99
Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awardsTheatre
Grace DentChannel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Rarest Beanie Baby of them all could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 2 Ben Affleck asked TV chiefs to hide slave-owning ancestry, new hacked Sony emails published by Wikileaks claim
- 3 Driving while dehydrated can be just as dangerous as drink driving, study suggests
- 4 Farmer told to tear down mock-Tudor castle after hiding construction behind hay bales
- 5 One Direction: Louis Tomlinson launching his own record label, has already 'signed two acts'
Better Call Saul creator Peter Gould on the creative concerns of a prequel, season 2 and the mind-numbing realities of the small courts
Britain's Got Talent 2015: RSPCA investigating Marc Metral's miming dog after cruelty complaints
One Direction: Louis Tomlinson launching his own record label, has already 'signed two acts'
Tidal CEO leaves Jay Z's music streaming service only a month after it launched
Star Wars 7: The Force Awakens: Luke Skywalker actor Mark Hamill admits he was suspicious of 'Star Trek guy' JJ Abrams
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate