Friday, 28 September 2012 20:05

Manchester United - Man and Babe by Wilf McGuinness and Ivan Ponting Featured

Written by
Rate this item
(0 votes)

Manchester United – Man and Babe
By Wilf McGuinness and Ivan Ponting
Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Pitch Publishing (October 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1848185030
ISBN-13: 978-1848185036

With a generously bubbly 1200 word Foreword penned by the author’s good friend and former team mate, Sir Bobby Charlton, and no fewer than 140-plus photographs within its 316 page format, it is quite unbelievable that, 14 months on from its original publication date in October 2008, Manchester United Man and Babe, the long-awaited autobiography of Wilf McGuinness of Man U and England, has received nary a mention in the local or regional press. Because there must be thousands of north Manchester folk and Reds, too, inquisitive about their team’s past, who would love to get their hands on this story of a local boy done good. Which, of course, they may do, courtesy of Waterstone’s (where I first found it on sale @ £17.99), or– where I bought it @ a discounted £12.49 inc. p&p.
This is a book I would not be without. Well, not permanently at any rate. Because, though I had been aware that Wilf was planning to write his autobiography (see above, the old advertising slogan I suggested as a title), I knew not (for reasons already mentioned) of the book’s existence for fully 6 months after its publication date. Moreover, an additional 6 months would then pass by during which time this same book has been devoured hungrily by yours truly and assorted alumni of Shepherd Street University (aka Mount Carmel, Blackley) who gleefully borrowed it from me. Not the least of whom is my good friend John Gilligan of Moston, photographed on page 21 herein alongside the boy McGuinness himself, the late, Tommy Seale (younger brother of Fr Brian Seale of St John Vianney’s), and other assorted reprobates from Blackley and White Moss who made up the school’s U-15s’ football team in the early 1950s whose names escape me for the present, Tony Burgess apart.
As ghost writer to his autobiographical task the author has recruited Ivan Ponting of The Independent. And, technically speaking, the guy makes a good journeyman’s job of it, particularly with regard to the boy’s professional career — playing days sadly foreshortened due to injury; life-span happily extended because of it (Wilf having been unfit to travel to Munich). So Man and Babe is certainly a better title than my own suggestion. But I really do wish there was a bit more detail here about Wilf’s north Manchester roots, as indeed there is concerning Collyhurst and Ashington, respectively, in the Nobby Stiles and Bobby Charlton autobiographies that were ghosted by The Independent’s James Lawton. (See Life, April 2007.)
Notwithstanding this single reservation, however (and my preference for the inclusion of an index), the generous provision of photographs of local characters (long since dispersed; hardly forgotten) will surely conjure up a vibrant north Manchester yesteryear for anyone who may care to recall it . . .
Witness the likes of headmaster John “Mickey” Mulligan (Snr.) . . . Canon F W Kershaw, who famously berated broadcaster, Gilbert Harding at national level . . . Wilf McGuinness with hair (a quiff I recall being jealous of) . . . Mrs May McGuinness, too, the loveliest of womankind: deaf as a post, she had a voice like a corncrake and a heart of gold . . . and Wilf’s elder brother Lawrence, practising the trumpet (or cornet: I never did know which) in the front parlour of No. 52 Westleigh Street . . . trumpet-playing that was accompanied by a drumbeat: BULUNG – skit, skit, skitter! BULUNG – skit, skit, skitter, as Wilf and his pals kicked a Size 5 ball against the gable end, halting just occasionally for Wilf to essay a throw-in technique that would take the ball all of 30 feet to the apex of the roof, the chimney pot beyond . . . and the practitioner of such art to a career at Old Trafford that many would die for and, sadly, some have.
Reviewed by Bill Keeth
September 2009

Read 434 times Last modified on Thursday, 11 November 2021 22:55

Comments powered by CComment

Latest Posts

  • The Creative Industry Needs to Look at Things Differently Post Budget 2022
    On 29 October 2021, the Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz tabled Budget 2022 in the Malaysian parliament. RM50 million has been allocated for the arts and culture industry. This comes after a year and a half after the entire industry came to an absolute standstill. With…
  • ‘The Covid Positives’ – life lessons learnt from the pandemic by Phanindra Ivatury
    After a long drawn battle with the biggest catastrophe in our living memory, global humanity is finally getting to see some quintessential ray of light at the end of the treacherous tunnel in the form of COVID-19 vaccines, currently being rolled out to all parts of the globe. A ‘COVID-19…
  • Chaos of Whole Books
    Is it possible to read several books at once? Aneeta Sundararaj finds out. When I was a child, my cousin used to boast that he could read four storybooks at a time. As an adult, when he invested in an e-Reader, he continued to boast that he could…
  • Writing for You? Or for Me?
    Writing for You? Or for Me? ‘You must always write with your reader in mind.’ This was one of the first pieces of advice that I received when I began my writing career. Honestly, I found this extremely hard to do because more often than not, I couldn’t picture my…
  • One Book That Changed My Writing Life
    My latest novel, The Age of Smiling Secrets was shortlisted for two categories in the Book Award 2020 organised by the National Library of Malaysia. When I reflected on the journey that this book has taken, I acknowledged the enormous influence of one of my all-time favourite books, Joseph Anton:…