Monday 23 October 2017

Liverpool ace took longer than most to put pen to paper

Book review - Alan Aherne

'Terry Mac - Living for the Moment
'Terry Mac - Living for the Moment

Sports autobiographies are practically ten a penny as regular readers of this column will know only too well.

Finding a book of quality among the dross is easier said than done, and there's another factor to consider too: the usually short timeframe between the announcement of a retirement and the launch night.

For example, it will be very interesting to see how long will elapse before the thoughts of Colm 'Gooch' Cooper are put on paper after he decided to leave the inter-county scene last week.

In actual fact, it's got to the stage now where some of these autobiographies are released when the sportsperson is still active, and I always find those versions particularly difficult to stomach.

Bearing all of the above in mind, I was surprised to pick up 'Terry Mac - Living for the Moment' recently and realise that it was the life story of a talented footballer from the dim and distant past.

To the under 30s among you, the Mac in question is McDermott, a goalscoring midfielder on that all-conquering Liverpool side of the late '70s and early '80s who was capped 25 times by England.

Terry will be celebrating his 66th birthday this year, therefore begging the obvious question: what took him so long to bring out a book?

Surprisingly for such a talented player, the answer is revealed in the foreword written by his great friend and colleague, Kevin Keegan.

He reckons his former team-mate and managerial sidekick didn't always have the confidence in himself to match his onfield achievements.

However, he has finally decided to look back on his honours-laden career, with the book launched a mere four months after he suffered a mini-stroke.Thankfully, he has made a full recovery, and he tells his tale in chronological year order from his earliest days growing up in Kirkby on the outer reaches of Liverpool.

Times were tough, and improvisation was called for when the boys in the family wanted to play, twisting the head off one of their sister's dolls in order to produce something resembling a football.

One of Terry's brothers, Charles, was born with cerebral palsy and died in the mid-eighties after spending the vast majority of his life in a care home.

His illness was a constant source of sadness to this idol of the Kop who first shot to major prominence when he helped Liverpool to European Cup glory in 1977. He was experiencing personal turmoil at the time though, with his mother dying later that year from cancer at the young age of 55.

McDermott's professional career started at Bury before moving on to Newcastle United, featuring with the Magpies in 1974 when they lost to Liverpool in the FA Cup final.

It wasn't long before he completed his dream move to Anfield, but he returned for a second stint in the north-east before a short seven-game cameo with Cork City and a few seasons in Cyprus.

He struck up a close bond with Kevin Keegan when they were Liverpool team-mates, so it came as no surprise when he served under him as assistant manager in two separate stints with Newcastle.

McDermott was an active participant in the drinking culture that was part and parcel of football in his heyday, and he has been put off the road twice for motoring offences. A devoted family man with two sons and a daughter, horse racing is his other big passion.

Was his book worth the long wait? Yes, if you're a 40-something plus Liverpool or Newcastle fan, but it's not a must-read for the rest of us although some of his insights are nonetheless quite interesting.

Visit The Book Centre on Wexford's Main Street for the best selection of sports books.

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