Forget the latest bestsellers or Booker Prize winners! The Football Book Club podcast are the only book club who instead read another footballer’s autobiography every week.
This week, it was the turn of moustached Arsenal and England legend, David Seaman.
As any ex-pro will tell you, all goalkeepers are a little bit crazy. And so far on The Football Book Club podcast, the keepers’ books we’ve read tend to back up that theory.
Jerzy Dudek’s ‘A Big Pole In Our Goal’ sees young Jerzy getting chased by a goose and nutting a train compartment until it smashes open. Paddy Kenny’s brilliant ‘The Gloves Are Off’ details Paddy getting his eyebrow bitten off in a curry house. And Marcus Hahnemann’s Premier League Diary talks more about his experience following the metal band Tool on tour than playing alongside Nicky Shorey.
David Seaman’s book, on the other hand, talks in depth about the time he once tried to plumb his own sink and has near enough a page on the correct fishing line you need to catch a carp. Put simply, it’s a bit dull.
Which is a shame. For all us 90s kids, David Seaman is probably the first England goalkeeper you think of. A mainstay across major tournaments, with the moustache of Tom Selleck and the ponytail of Ariana Grande.
Safe Hands’ isn’t terrible. There’s some great revelations throughout, most notably when David reveals that he is allergic to ‘horse dust’ somewhere towards the end. But if you’re looking for any great football insight, frankly, you came to the wrong book.
For starters, it’s written in 2000, which seems a bizarre time for David to write a book seeing as he only had four years left of his career. And secondly, he’s too busy going fishing with Chris Tarrant to bother writing anything insightful.
However, there were some surprises along the way. Here are our three biggest findings from David Seaman’s ‘Safe Hands’.
DAVID HAS A LONG, UNEASY RELATIONSHIP WITH BIRDS AND BIRD EGGS
The most frustrating part of the book is that it all starts off so well, as we follow young David in Rotherham living the life of the kid off the Hovis advert as he helps with his parents’ sandwich shop (Seaman Sandwiches, yum).
After David tells a long story about saving a pigeon from drowning in sewage (yep, it’s that kind of book), David reveals he had a fairly controversial habit as a youngster – he liked to steal bird eggs. Kingfisher eggs (fancy), starling eggs (hard to reach and highly-prized) – David loves them all. And to stop the eggs from going off, David describes – in depth – how he used to blow the contents out of the egg out with his lips.
He claims they’d make sure the eggs didn’t have chicks in them beforehand. But nevertheless, later in the book, David’s conscience seems to catch up as he reveals he now lives in some sort of menagerie surrounded by animals, like a 6’6″ Snow White. He has goats, horses (hence the
dust). He even has two doves given to him by Chris Evans. Whether Chris knew about David’s previous with birds before he gifted them, we can only guess.
GEORGE GRAHAM DOESN’T LIKE ROY ‘CHUBBY’ BROWN
As we mentioned above, there’s very little insight into football, which is especially disappointing given the penalty heroics of Euro 96. He even says himself how he ‘forgot’ one season at Birmingham so just doesn’t mention it. Great.
However, we do find out more about his life at Arsenal. Especially about George Graham who they called ‘Gaddafi’ because he wouldn’t let them watch anything ‘violent or sexy’ on the club coach, which meant David’s favourite Roy ‘Chubby’ Brown was off the menu. Gaddafi, of course, famously more of a Jethro fan.
Elsewhere we learn that Arsene Wenger is surprisingly clumsy and that Marc Overmars likes to spend his spare time sitting in miniature replica cars. Apart from that the rest is basically more stuff about carp fishing.
DAVID HAS MANY IDEAS FOR TELEVISION SHOWS OF VARYING MERIT
Although David hasn’t quite retired at this point in the book, he realises his career is winding down and reveals he fancies a career in the media.
At this point, David pitches a few ideas he and David Frost (yep, that one) have been knocking around, including one where David interviews other sporting stars whilst playing their sport. Twenty years later, sadly it hasn’t made it on air.
He has, however, been on two series of Harry’s Heroes, dropped a woman on her chin on Dancing on Ice and was in the straight-to-video release ‘Andy Little’s Gravel Pit Carping featuring David Seaman’. Sadly, it’s not on blu-ray.
Overall, ‘Safe Hands’ veers from excellent to extremely mundane in the space of a sentence, just the way a proper football autobiography should. It’s not great. Not terrible. But if there’s any way I can help get a David Seaman-Chris Tarrant fishing series off the ground, I’m willing to do all I can.
For more David action, you can listen to the full episode here.
“I enjoy a cigar or two, but I don’t smoke in public because I think it’s the wrong image for me to present” 🚭
— The Football Book Club podcast (@FootieBookClub) December 1, 2020
CLASSIC FOOTBALL AUTOBIOGRAPHY CHECKLIST
Ridiculous 80s hair on the front cover? David, exclusively, had ridiculous hair in his career.
Does he talk about herself in the third person? No.
Does Roy Keane turn up? No.
Did you learn anything meaningful from the book? Fishing is exactly as boring as I thought.
Overall – Three Bird Eggs out of Five
James Bugg is a writer for TV and radio shows including Horrible Histories, Dead Ringers and The News Quiz. He is also the host of The Football Book Club podcast.