Just a few days ago we were sent Mark Worrall’s latest publication, “One Man Went to Mow”. OMWTM is Mark’s third book and is in a similar vane to his first, Over Land and Sea. OMWTM is Mark’s personal diary of following Chelsea in what turned out to be Mr Mourinho’s last season at the helm of the team.
I personally enjoy Mark’s writing style and he introduces and includes his travelling companions in a way that you feel that you’ve known them all your life. Each with their very own nickname and individual skills. (Or not.)
As I always tell people I come across in my day to day duties. Football is not all about winning trophies. Following the team is just as important. We’ve all got money can’t buy memories of following Chelsea. Many of them pre 1997. The football’s only 90 minutes of the real Chelsea experience. Mark’s book reinforces this and the match is basically a reason to travel. An excuse to get away from the nine to five.
I was lucky enough to follow the club to most European away games from 1994 – 1998 and I was delighted to find some of the characters that I come across on my travels in this book. Charlie Driver being one that immediately brought back some memories.
Charlie Driver is an absolute legend as a Chelsea fan and I have seen him entertain many a fan with a rendition of Chas and Dave’s “London Girl” amongst many others. Strangely enough one of Charlie’s friends or relations bought a boozer quite near where I live a few years ago and Charlie used to bring up his karaoke machine up and entertain the locals. I can remember drinking with Charlie in the Complete Angler just outside Norwich train station. Which was, incidentally the last time I was lucky enough to be in the presence of Mathew Harding.
OMWTM starts off with an introduction to Mark and how he met some of his closest travelling companions during his time as an apprentice priest. He also talks about the Chelsea camaraderie that many of us experienced on the Shed terraces and local boozers during Chelsea leaner periods.
Each chapter seems to relate to a particular European adventure and Mark seems able to digress into some interesting snippets of history depending on where he’s located at the time. Mark has a knack of being able to describe leisure pursuits like a pleasant evening in an Amsterdam café and the cities architecture all within a few paragraphs. Sometimes making you feel that you are actually observing, listening into his conversations with the Gate 17 crew whilst they are having a relaxing smoke and the odd pint or two.
The matches themselves are mostly relayed in conversation that went on between Mark and his mates and people around them. The match reviews are also nicely littered with Chelsea lyrics that we are all familiar with and they punctuate match action.
My favourite piece from the book covers the terrace fashion. This coincides with my first introduction to, not only Chelsea FC, but nightlife in and around Fulham and Battersea as a fresh faced young teenager. Nineteen eighty four to be more precise. Of course living up in deepest Norfolk meant that I was wearing completely the wrong clobber at first but after raiding my mates wardrobe on arrival in London I was kitted out ready for a proper night out that usually started in the Castle or the Woodman on Battersea High Street.
In fact as I write this review of sorts, I’ve just realised a very important aspect of the book. It’s actually triggered a whole load of memories for me. Probably not intentional but that’s quite a good thing isn’t it?
Anyway, before I digress again the book covers the whole of the season including the low point of losing to that lot from Anfield on penalties but ends on the high of the FA Cup victory at the New Wembley stadium.
As with all three of Mark’s publication’s I thoroughly enjoyed this offering. It’s a great mix of modern and the not so modern Chelsea littered with factual interesting information and a great big dose of humour.
If I were you I’d visit Mark’s web site [www.overlandandsea.net] or get down to the cfcuk stall on a match day and get yourself a copy.
Here’s a money making tip. Get yourself an unsigned copy as apparently these are as rare as a Shevchenko appearance and will probably be pretty collectable in the future.