Football: Lining up in wait for his Hoddleness

"GLENN HODDLE Book Signing, 25 August, 1-3pm - Postponed." It didn't seem the best way to attract sales, but maybe they were scared of being crushed to death in the rush.

Fortunately for me and the few genuine fans, the notices outside Borders Bookshop in Oxford Street, London, were only partially accurate. The postponement referred to the original signing session, scheduled for last week and put back presumably in the light of all the bad publicity which surrounded the extracts serialised by The Sun.

By one o'clock a line of a couple of hundred apostles was waiting to be anointed by his Hoddleness, while the paparazzi had already formed an impenetrable ring. "Another 10 minutes" a lackey barked, giving rise to a collective groan, but time flies when you are queuing for an autograph, so it seemed like the very next moment when the great man finally appeared. The flash bulbs started popping as the photographers launched into their feeding frenzy.

We'd been told he wouldn't be answering any questions but one hardy soul still gave it a try. "How do you think the public will react to the book, Mr Hoddle," he ventured. No reply. "So you've got nothing to say about the book at all?" Nothing at all.

The first lucky lad to have his version of the Hoddle testament signed was James Bundock, from Eltham. "He's one of my childhood heroes, cos he played for Tottenham," he said. "I think England are going to do it one day with him. I think he did a really good job in the World Cup".

John Hudson, from Eastbourne, echoed those sentiments but with a hint of dissent. "I think he's doing a marvellous job and it's a shame the way the press has been on his back. But I don't think he should have written the book at the moment. If you are going to write a book like that, perhaps he should have waited until he has finished being manager of the England team."

Giving it an international flavour was Tracy from Australia: "I am actually buying it for a friend," she said. I suggested that's what they all say and tested her knowledge of the subject. "All I know is that he's a very unattractive manager and he used to be manager of England."

But from Tokyo, Souichiro, a true believer, said: "He's my favourite player since I was young. I saw him playing for the first time when I lived for 10 years in France and I am still playing football because I was very touched by his way of playing. I am on holiday here and today is the most beautiful day of my life. He's my idol, my god."

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