Author(s): Ben Smith
Report Published: On Launch
Journeyman is a footballer’s autobiography with a twist. There are no flash cars, big mansions, champagne dinner parties or tabloid frenzies. This is because it is by a man who made his living at the lower rungs of the English footballing hierarchy. It is certainly NOT an autobiography that many footballing starlets would like to replicate, but it is one they absolutely MUST read, if they are to turn the dreams in their head into a working reality at their feet!
What makes Ben’s book so compelling is the potentially life changing impact it will have on any aspiring sports person, musician, entrepreneur or top scientist, because the reason for the protagonist’s downfall from Arsenal F.C. to no man’s land, barring one appearance at Manchester United’s Old Trafford, is as black and white as it comes: lack of maturity, discipline and hard work coupled with a false sense of entitlement, derived from a footballing lifestyle at the expense of footballing performance and progression. Ben makes no illusion to the fact that such a combination will lead you down one path only – that of mediocrity.
Life lessons aside and filled with a cheeky sense of humour and fun, Journeyman is a great book for the football enthusiast, especially if you are, like me, a fan of a minnow club. It is just so refreshing to see the warts and all side of lower league football, its highs of promotion, fan appreciation and receiving a little less paltry pay packet, the lows of poor facilities, terrible man management and yet another move around the country as players, coaches and managers fall victim to the sport’s unforgiving revolving door.
“Any player can waste his ability, but very few go on to overachieve.”
“You sign the contract you’re happy with; if you don’t like what’s offered then you don’t sign”
“Money, in hindsight, should not have come into it. If I had continued to perform well, the finances would have looked after themselves.”
Let me tell you – if this book doesn’t get you to think twice about the power of your own decisions then I am certain that almost nothing will! I never have thought myself as lazy or questioned my motivation, but I am more convinced than ever that one should never let their foot slide off the gas pedal and should always strive to keep themselves in check. Why, because it is all too easy to start getting too big for one’s boots, pardon the pun!
As I read through the chapters I can honestly say I felt the frustration of a parent who wants to see their talented child succeed, only to watch them flounder and fall. It was a strange book for me because whilst I really didn’t like the main character, I loved the author- strange, given that they are one and the same! Why did I like the author? He has a skill for being brutally honest, in a self-deprecating, typically, English fashion and he made me think of the fine line between making it big and barely making it, or as Ben puts it, winning and being an also-ran.
Whenever I don’t want to do something because it is hard or “not sexy”, I will remember Ben and pull my socks up!