Only A Game? The book that blew the whistle on the pros' little secret...
Only a Game? Eamon Dunphy (Kestrel Books, 1976)
When Millwall up-and-downer Eamon Dunphy’s career was winding down – age, injuries, disillusionment, y’know – he wrote this ‘Diary of a Professional Footballer’ about his final season at Cold Blow Lane.
It changed football writing forever – and the way fans think of pros.
“I’m sitting in the stand, wanting them to lose, but unable to show it. Because there are people around, I’ve got to pretend to want them to win. I can’t jump up in the air when Sheffield score. Which I want to do. And when Millwall score I’m sick, but I have to jump up in the air. And there is this terrible conflict all the time. And it is the same for everybody who is dropped.
“You are always pleased when they have been beaten, because it means you are a candidate again. You are sick for the lads, of course, but your predominant emotion is delight.”
It’s blank, brutal. Like all the books we're going to feature here, it's vital reading for any fan, regardless of club allegiance.
The only person who might want to give it a swerve is the Lions’ rising star of the early '70s, the butt of a thousand old pro jokes and future Man U superstar, Gordon Hill…