Chopper tells it like it is...

Last updated : 09 October 2008 By Simon Payne

According to Ron Harris, winning the 1970 FA Cup final against Leeds United was the "defining moment" of his career.
And if "Chopper" says that, who's to argue?

But why was the uncompromising defender lucky to play at Wembley and what tactical decision was key to Chelsea winning the replay at Old Trafford?

Likewise, who killed the team spirit that led Nigel Spackman to leave Stamford Bridge for Liverpool in 1987?

These stories have long been forgotten in today's world of rolling sports news, but Blues fans will be pleased to know a new anthology allows the players to answer the questions in their own words.

In Football Fables: True Stories Of Triumph And Despair From Football's Mavericks, Iain Macintosh has compiled a collection of compelling football tales from 15 ex-players and managers.

Okay, so not all 15 subjects are classically defined mavericks - can you really put Peter Shilton, Bryan Robson, Espen Baardsen and Ramon Vega in that category?

Yet, Harris, Barry Fry, Ron Atkinson, Stan Bowles and Frank McAvennie make up the numbers with vivid recollections and characteristically unreserved comments, while David Icke speaks passionately about Welsh legend John Charles before drifting into his own philosophy on life and death.

League titles won and lost, Cup Final happiness and despair, losing a World Cup semi-final penalty shoot-out, boardroom politics and Brian Clough's managerial quirks are laid bare as Macintosh's subjects tell their candid tales.

The beauty of Football Fables is it gets behind the headlines relating to some of the defining moments and characters in British football through these first-hand stories.

Of course, some of the memories may now be clouded with a tint of roses but these warts-and-all accounts stand out because they are written free from the PR and spin associated with today's Premier League.

In essence, this enjoyable book harks back to an era in football that is so near, yet now so far away.

Football Fables: True Stories Of Triumph And Despair From Football's Mavericks

Iain Macintosh

A&C Black £9.99
Go to to buy this excellent book.