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Woody and Nord book review

February 23 2004

Woody & Nord book

Woody & Nord book

Richard, aka Cranes Park Eagle, reviews the book of former Palace stars Gareth Southgate and Andy Woodman.

Two disclaimers are in order here. One is that I am a football fan. The second is that were it not for my allegiance to Crystal Palace FC, I might not have bothered with this book. That I think would be a pity.

For the uninitiated, Nord is Gareth Southgate, Crystal Palace, Aston Villa, Middlesborough and over 50 caps for England.

Woody is Andy Woodgate, a goalkeeper who has enjoyed, if that is the word, a career as understudy to Nigel Martin at Palace followed by spells at Exeter, Southend, Northampton, Brentford, Colchester and Oxford.

The contrasting careers of these two men are charted from the time when as aspiring teenagers they waited for the train out of Mitcham after training with the Palace youth team.

Woody was the sharp-suited street-wise south Londoner, in his words "a hustler." Nord was the boy from the leafy boroughs, derided for his dress sense and taken aback by the noisy brashness and the school of hard knocks that he found himself in.

Hard it was too. Anyone who thought their managers were difficult to deal with should I have tried working for Alan Smith and Wally Downes.

Try being a goalkeeper with the soubriquet One Eye as Andy Woodman had to. The aim, rather like the Marines was to sort those who had it from those who did not.

The main theme in this book is how such a strong friendship could endure through all these differences and wildly contrasting career paths. Examples abound.

Middlesborough flew to London for a game at Chelsea, staying in a hotel overlooking Kensington Gardens with the club picking up the tab for all that plus dinner, breakfast and pre game snack.

Such pampering did not apply to the Oxford lads who bought their own breakfast the same day. Andy Woodman washes his own training kit; perish the thought in the Premiership!

Woody and Nord places two different perspectives on events side by side, an interesting device that in the hands of these two leaves no room for platitudes.

They are candid in the way they explain how the more reticent Nord showed the appetite and the mental strength to reach the top but never forgot his friend. By his own admission Woody feels he could have worked harder and was close to being broken at the early stages of his career.

That he has lasted in the game is a justifiable source of pride. His telling comment about Southgate was "just because he was well brought upů Gareth was never, ever, soft."

The pleasure in this book is that there is very little "Me Me" attitude in it. But then maybe that is the point. The friendship has endured because "Me Me" is not what matters.

The title seems a misnomer. This book is about a friendship that transcends football, not a football friendship.

Woody and Nord is available at all good bookshops

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