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Nicole Carroll: A one woman mission to make a name in football

Book review: Chris Kamara “Mr Unbelievable”

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I’m a Chris Kamara fan, I think theres a Kammy moment that most football fans have laughed at to be honest.

With anyone who becomes popular on almost a cult basis, a book seems to inevitably follow and that’s how we get to Mr Unbelievable. It’s not a new release by any means, but in the run up to waiting for the World Cup to go live, I managed to read this over two nights and I’m glad I did.

Mr Unbelievable is almost predictably written in two halves, just like the football he talks about. The first half of the book talks about his modern exploits working for Sky in an onscreen role, whilst the second focuses on how Kamara got into the game in the first place – firstly as a player, then later as a manager.

I’ve only known of Chris Kamara as a media personality, who has an army of Kammy fans who love his passionate enthusiastic style, and the fact he makes the occasional blunder! It’s his personality which has gained him the trust of the backstage areas of many grounds and has allowed we the viewers to see some interesting sights behind the scenes at various clubs, usually sights of a comedic nature.

The whole book is written in the style of Kamara in the fact that you are never a few lines from a quip, one which made me snigger out loud was a description of Phil Thompson as a “nose between two thorns”.

Despite not knowing about Kamara as a player, I was more interested in the second half of the book which spoke about Kamara’s life before football and the various travels he made as a journeyman player. Kamara’s passion for the game is evident when he’s enthusiastic commentating on a match, but it’s just as prominent in the written form.

Although the majority of the book is in a light hearted tone, there are a few darker subjects touched upon. The issue of racism is raised, and as a black player, there are a list of examples of the problems he encountered on the pitch. It was a different time when Kamara played in terms of recognition of racism in football and tackling it. Today we have campaigns such as the Kick it out campaign, or Show the red card to racism, but there weren’t active campaigns like that when Kamara was playing and black players, and black people in general faced abuse in every area in life. Despite praise for campaigns which highlight racism, he does admit there is still a racist element among some football fans, with the England/Spain friendly being given as an example when Spanish fans made monkey noises at black players.

Learning of Kammy’s home life was also slightly eye opening, with Kamara talking of days not knowing when he was getting the next meal and the poverty they lived with, with his mum asking the neighbours for help. However, the love for all of his family comes across loud and clear with his various stories about his parents, wife and two boys.

It’s not the most challenging book in the world, but it’s interesting. I think I get a rounder impression of Kammy as a person now since reading the book, and he’s not just this comedy figure who manages to have daft conversations with players for Soccer Saturday. He worked hard to earn a living from football, clearly loves the game and now loves the job he’s in. He was never the greatest football player, but I don’t think he’s ever claimed to be.

Stimulating, funny but a decent enough football read – pretty much like the man himself.

ISBN: 0007360584

Imprint: HarperSport


Written by Nicole Carroll

June 13, 2010 at 10:34 pm

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