A HYDE man is proving a hit in the literary world after documenting some of the things he saw while taking his kids to football.And Steve O’Donoghue hopes it stops the ‘touchline referees’ and pushy parents who can take the enjoyment out of the game.
The 51-year-old has self-published Junior Football: It’s Not a Man’s Game after seeing tempers flare, stinging criticism and kids look miserable on the sidelines.
A former coach at Hattersley Jets, who his son Harrison played for, he is well qualified to pass on the benefit of his experience.
And it is a no holds barred account of people thinking they have the next Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo on their hands, when in fact they have their child.
In one passage, he recounts: “’F*** me, call yourself a goalkeeper? You’re a f***ing disgrace!’
“I could be at any Premier League ground in the country listening to this, sadly I’m not, it’s an Under 11’s junior match, and the foul-mouthed idiot behind the respect barrier, is actually the goalkeeper’s father.
“What’s more, he used to play in the goal himself, so you’d imagine he’d know better.
“What the sort of real men who shout at 11-year-old children? Some of these kids still believe in Father Christmas.”“I used to watch my son play and write little match reports,” said Steve, who actually wrote the book on his mobile phone while spending sessions alone up on Werneth Low over the course of two years.
“It started off about the game itself, then it became more about what happened around the game.
“I was making little notes and had memories and thought, ‘I’ve not read anything like this before.’
“Because I was writing about real people, I was careful about what I included as I was wary of upsetting someone but it’s looking at parents and how they act.
“After a child makes a mistake, you’ve got a grown adult man shouting at them. So what I’ve written is both for parents and also some coaches.
“Often I’ve seen them having the same kids as substitutes every week and they’re stood on the touchline shivering and freezing. That takes the enjoyment out of it for me.”
Steve does not leave much to the imagination in his book from his days at Hattersley Jets, part of Hattersley FC, which became known as Hattersley Bees after the death of player Sam Berkley.
Now a coach at Stockport side Signol, who younger son Alfie plays for, also talks about being thrown in at the deep end.
In the book, he adds: “I’m walking across the quagmire that is to be the pitch for my youngest son Alfie’s first ever cup match for his U9s team.
“It’s windy and cold, the parents are putting a brave face on it, but it’s one of those blow your umbrella inside out kind of days.
“The weather though, isn’t what concerns me. It’s 10 minutes to kick off and Butch, the U9s manager, is nowhere to be seen. It’s a bit weird because his son is here, but he’s not.
“My phone rings, it’s Butch. ‘Hi mate, sorry but I’m running really late, youse know what to do, can you sort it, y’know, pick the team and that?’
“‘Erm OK, how long will you be?’ ‘Not long mate, I’ll be there soon, maybe 20 minutes, just pick the team.’
“And then he’s gone. S***, I don’t want to do this, it’s not my age group, and I don’t know the kids all that well.
“My début as U9s manager ends in a closely contested 8-0 drubbing, which at one point saw our goalkeeper Evan standing in his net, facing the wrong way sulking, because in his opinion, the last goal didn’t count.
“Two minutes after the final whistle Butch telephones telling me he’s just pulling into the car park …“
Since deciding to self-publish, Steve, of Gee Cross, has had a great reaction – bigger than he ever thought he would.
“It’s said that people lose money on 95 per cent of self-published books,” he added.
“But the reaction to mine has been amazing, it’s completely outstripped everything I put into it.
“I put a lot of work in but it’s really nice, people have even bought it in Europe and America.
“All this from a little team in Hyde, it’s been brilliant.”
• Steve’s book, Junior Football: It’s Not a Man’s Game, is available from www.stevesbook.co.uk and is priced £6.99.