Now here is subject I actually know stuff about: football. I bought this book when it came out directly after England’s exit from the 2006 World Cup and such has been my huge pile of reading to do, it has only just made its way to the top. I like to think every book comes with a lesson and Frank Lampard’s offering came with a simple one. Never read books by footballers who haven’t finished their careers.
My initial thoughts about Frank Lampard’s 424 page football extravaganza was that it could be summarized in seven words; ‘My name’s Frank Lampard, I play football.’ I wasn’t far off. Although, for all the football that Frank Lampard has played he still can’t get his facts right. On page 405 he says that Argentina beat Ukraine by six goals in the group stage of the World Cup, going into detail saying that one of the six goals was voted goal of the tournament. Argentina did win the match by six goals but they didn’t play the Ukraine. At all. In the entire tournament. It was actually Serbia and Montenegro. For a moment I thought I was reading a BBC match report, where factual errors are common place, but I don’t think I’m being too picky in complaining about an autobiography getting the facts wrong.
The book has a lot of similar grammatical errors to Cy Flood’s Sun, Sea and Sex: True Confessions of a Holiday Rep, but it’s not as bad in this respect. It reads like a transcription and if that’s the case then Ian McGarry, who I would imagine did the transcribing, really needs to sort it out. I’ve read quite a few novels over the last few weeks and only autobiographies seem to have noticeable grammar errors. I know it doesn’t apply to all autobiographies. Dave Eggers’ is good but that doesn’t really count as he’s a writer anyway.
Structure is very important when writing a book of great length and Totally Frank is written with what appears to be, a complete disregard for any kind of organisation. This goes hand-in-hand with it’s transcription like appearance and makes it out to be a horrible way of writing.
I’m not usually critical of content but there was a revelation is here that shocked me to my very core. Before England’s loss to Portugal in Euro 2004, Lampard reveals that the team was treated to a meal at McDonald’s. Lots of tasty burgers and fries were eaten by professional footballers before one of the biggest matches of their lives. Lampard goes on to say he felt sluggish during the game, but defends the meal choice, calling it ‘a treat’ for the players. By all means, have a treat, but not in the middle of a major tournament. Maybe if we won then yes, have some McDonald’s, feast on Burger King or visit The Colonel. I was hugely disappointed to find this out when I thought that professional sportsmen avoided that kind of food as part of their career; a small sacrifice surely, if you are being paid over £100,000 a week (before tax) to do something you love.
As I mentioned earlier, my main issue with this book is that it has been written by a twenty-eight year old whose football career hasn’t even finished. Over the last few years, England have failed to qualify for Euro 2008, Frank Lampard has become separated from his fiancée, with whom he now has two children (by August 2006, he has just the one) and we now face another summer where the media expects us to win the World Cup. My point being there is and will be so much more to write about by the end of his football career and he could go on to become a manager when he can‘t play anymore. Then, instead of complaining about how West Ham fans are not very nice to him, he could write about more interesting aspects of his life. The ones that haven’t happened yet. Maybe he will visit The Colonel in the future, I just hope it’s not before we play Brazil in the final of World Cup 2010.
I can’t do it. Even as a Chelsea and Lampard fan, I can’t possibly recommend this book to anyone. Ever. Maybe if he writes one at the end of his career with good grammar and structure and less whining… actually, that one will be longer. Forget it.
Totally Frank by Frank Lampard and Ian McGarry was published by HarperSport, HaperCollins in 2006. RRP varies greatly from store to store. Apparently, new copies are available on Amazon for £74.57 at the time of writing. I wonder how much I can sell my copy for?