Scouting for Moyes, by Les Padfield
Sunday 05 December 2010
With so many hi-tech tools available for managers to assess players these days, it's possibly a surprise that football scouts, like Saturday-evening pink 'uns and balls with laces, haven't been relegated to history.
But most League clubs still employ a network of trusted observers to run the rule over potential transfer targets and prepare reports on forthcoming opponents, and Les Padfield, a teacher in his day job, started scouting for Preston under David Moyes and is currently clocking up the motorway miles for Bolton Wanderers.
His behind-the-scenes stories of this tight-knitworld are funny, intelligent and illuminating, made all the more enjoyable by his evident love for the game – an East Ender, he was a more than useful schoolboy player and interested Leyton Orient and Millwall, though when he visits Spurs as a scout, his former junior team-mate Harry Redknapp gives him the blank. He can be sharp – he describes three Bolton players as "not only too slow for yelled instructions from the touchline but too slow for smoke signals" – and gets frustrated when his reports are ignored, but his attitude is generally one of wry, self-deprecatory amusement.
From a failed attempt to watch Bromley versus Sturrock during last year's big freeze to an abortive trip to Nigeria to scout a player who then announces he has decided to become a doctor instead, from dropping his mobile phone down the lavatory at Wembley to being pressganged into service as the fourth official for Orient against Scunthorpe, Padfield remains a glass-half-full man.
A scout with talent of his own, he has produced a little gem of a book about one of the lesser-known aspects of the League scene, which is a far more enjoyable read than any number of ghostwritten player biographies.
Published in paperback by SportsBooks, £8.99
Review: Imaginative storytelling returns with vigourfilm
Bannatyne leaves Dragon's DenTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Howard Jacobson: Let's see the 'criticism' of Israel for what it really is
- 2 Instagram of US airport security chiefs: Lipstick knives and IED training kits among items seized
- 3 Brazil vs Germany World Cup 2014: In defence of Mesut Ozil - the Arsenal midfielder works magic in the shadows
- 4 PornHub begs users to stop uploading video clips of Brazil getting beaten 7-1
- 5 Tony Abbott embarrasses Australia by praising Japanese WWII military, ‘getting on the sake’ and posing for ‘crotch-shot’ photo opportunity
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
Australia facing international condemnation after turning around Sri Lankans at sea
7/7 memorial defaced on anniversary of 2005 attacks with ‘Blair lied thousands died’ graffiti
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
There’s a nasty smell in the political air – and it’s coming from the Tories
Vanessa Feltz criticises 'vile' reaction to Rolf Harris allegations