Roy Keane
“The Second Half”
Reviewed by Richard Bowdery

The Second Half by Roy Keane with Roddy Doyle

Published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson

ISBN-13: 978-0297608882

It might seem an odd choice to have a novelist, dramatist and screenwriter as collaborator for a famous footballer’s memoirs.

It might seem even stranger given that the footballer in question is Roy Keane and his previous autobiography Keane: The Autobiography (published in 2002) was ghosted by ex-Millwall legend turned journalist Eamon Dunphy.

RoyKeaneBookBut this different approach – and I’m sure it is completely different, though I must confess I never read Keane – works very well. In fact, as one might expect from a dramatist collaborator, the book reads more like dialogue than prose. It’s as if Keane is regaling his mates in one of Cork’s hostelries with stories of his life since the 2002 autobiography.

The Second Half has much less of a hard edge about it than I had expected. Indeed Keane isn’t afraid to bare his soul as can be seen when he lets on how he’d cried in his car, after Manchester United said they were letting him go.

It left a question hanging in the air: “Had United’s ‘enforcer’ gone soft?” Not a bit of it.

The crunching tackles came thick and fast as he laid bare his views on some of United’s coaching staff and former team mates, his punch up with Peter Schmeichel, and how he didn’t sign Robbie Savage because of a voice mail message.

As you may expect there is quite a bit of swearing; but then you’re in a bar and the Guinness is flowing so what do you expect?

If I have any criticism, it is that the book ends on a whimper, as if Roy just got off his stool, ambled towards the exit and disappeared into the night air without so much as a ‘see you soon lads.’

You’re left with a nagging feeling that more could have been said. The book would have been better for it. Although the legal eagles may well have insisted on sanitizing certain stories. But that is only a minor complaint.

For the most part it doesn’t fail to deliver, it’s a good, illuminating read on the man and the football industry. You come away having viewed Roy Keane in a different light: much more of a human being and much less of an aggressive caricature.

And reading between the lines I’m sure I could detect the reasons why Roy Keane gave up his role at Aston Villa – though at the time the book was published he was still coaching at Villa as well as working with the Irish national team.

I wait eagerly for ‘volume 3’ to see if my assumptions were correct.

BB Rating: 8/10

@RichardBowdery

 

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