I’ve just finished John Giles’ book, A football man. Really enjoyed it. Giles isn’t afraid to call it how he sees it, a trait that can be trying in the half-bright whines of your common-or-garden footballer, but which comes over quite well from someone thoughtful and considered like Giles.
One of the game’s great players, Giles’ reputation has been perhaps tarnished by his Leeds team’s own tarnished image, a reputation that is not undeserved, but which ignores how very good they were, too (people know about the Clough years, but not about the early sixties to early seventies run in which they nearly won absolutely everything, a complete team that could beat you whatever game you tried to play). Giles is in reflective mood in the book, clearly adores Don Revie and his former team-mates, but was deeply disappointed by much of what he found in football outside that golden era.
He is now, of course, a fine pundit on Ireland’s RTE TV station. When I lived in Dublin for a couple of years earlier this century I used to love watching Giles and his co-worker, Eamon Dunphy have at it. Dunphy would call a spade a spade and then call it a fork two minutes later, but was great value. The host, Bill O’herlihy, manfully tried to keep things together, a true pro.
Thinking back, and looking at what the BBC trots out, I do miss their discussions. Here’s a sample (no Giles in this one, but good fun nevertheless):