SPORTS BOOK OF THE WEEK
Tied Up With Notts by Colin SlaterPublished by: Reid Publishing
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Few football stories in the last couple of years have been quite so bizarre or riveting as the tale of Notts County, Sven-Goran Eriksson and the Middle Eastern millions that never were.
And few individuals have been quite so well placed to describe it all as Colin Slater, the veteran BBC Radio Nottingham journalist who has been the station’s Notts County man ever since it was launched, some 44 years ago.
In fact, Slater’s association with Notts goes back even further. As a football reporter with the long-defunct Nottingham Evening News, he took his seat in the press box at Meadow Lane for the first time in August 1959. There began a professional and personal relationship with the world’s oldest football league club that now spans 53 years, more than a third of its history.
No one, therefore, is better qualified to put in perspective not just the squalid, regrettable Munto Finance affair but every other headline-grabbing moments from six decades into perspective than the man nowadays known as the Voice of Notts County, which is a moniker that could not have been anticipated by a boy growing up in Bradford. Indeed, his lilt, even today, is much more West Yorkshire than East Midlands.
He has done precisely that in a thoroughly entertaining and beautifully written memoir, Tied Up With Notts, published by Reid Publishing, which is best described as a personal history of the club.
Moreover, there have been many headline-grabbing moments on Slater’s watch. No strangers to financial woes, Notts sailed close to extinction in the mid-1960s and again in the first decade of the new century, when they went into administration. So the circumstances in which, to the football world’s astonishment, ex-England coach Eriksson was unveiled as Director of Football in July 2009 -- a Slater exclusive, as it happens -- were not a new experience.
But there have been some high spots, too. Twice since Slater began to report, Notts have clambered from the lower reaches of the Football League to rub shoulders with the elite, first under Jimmy Sirrel, who took them from the edge of the precipice to the First Division in 10 years, and again with Neil Warnock in charge.
Sirrel was the seventh manager with whom Slater worked in a list that now extends to 33 following Martin Allen’s replacement with Keith Curle last month. Had he joined the News a year or so earlier and he could claim accurately to have been covering Notts since the Tommy Lawton era, given that Lawton was manager, for 14 months, until he gave way to Frank Hill in 1958.
Nonetheless, while he cannot claim to have witnessed Lawton’s era as a player, when Slater says that the coming of Eriksson could be compared with the signing of Lawton from Chelsea in 1947, he speaks with unrivalled authority.
Who is the author?
Colin Slater was made an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list in 2001 for services to radio and the local community, a phrase that barely scratches the surface of his contribution to Nottinghamshire life.
Shortly before he began broadcasting, he had been appointed Nottinghamshire County Council’s first public relations officer and held that position alongside his growing profile at Meadow Lane for 20 years, in a continuation of the ‘double life’ he had enjoyed as a newspaper reporter, when he combined football with the role of chief municipal correspondent.
Subsequently he worked for Severn Trent Water and Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club. Away from his professional life, he was a churchwarden at Christ Church, Beeston for 38 years and since 1990 has served the General Synod of the Church of England as lay representative for the diocese of Southwell and Nottingham.
He is also works as a trustee on behalf of several local charities, was a Justice of the Peace for 27 years and in 2005 was appointed chairman of the Nottingham Courts Board.
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