It’s not fair that such a shining example of healthy, young humanity should be afflicted by an awful disease like MS, but Tom is not one to sit at home and bemoan his condition. Self-pity is not his style. He’d rather be making use of his abilities and the skills he picked up while studying for his journalism degree, and doing something positive.
The result is What dreams are (not quite) made of: No fame, no fortune just football … and Multiple Sclerosis, Tom’s newly published account of his life in and after football. Naturally, it majors on his time at the Abbey, where he was welcomed at the age of ten having shone in his hometown of Mildenhall. But it will also interest readers in places like Northampton, Leytonstone and Bury (Lancs, not St Edmunds), where he ground out the rest of a career that – thanks to ill fortune, poor management and too many spells on the physio’s table – never achieved what it had promised.
It’s engagingly written – no ghostwriter needed here – and pleasingly frank. If he thinks a training schedule was badly planned and executed, he’ll tell us, and he’ll name the guilty party. And we’re treated to a cutting assessment of the homophobia, sexism, racism and childishness of football dressing room culture of his time – a culture in which Tom never felt comfortable. Let’s hope more enlightened views prevail today.
He’s unflinching in addressing the MS issue and the ramifications for his family. Tom, his wife Chelle and their daughters do not know what the future holds, but it’s certain that, whatever happens, they’ll face it head on and in a positive frame of mind. This most articulate of men has done those who research, work with and live with MS a great service – and given the rest of us, football fans or not, a cracking read.
What Dreams are (Not Quite) Made of: No Fame, No Fortune, Just Football ... and Multiple Sclerosis is published by Vertical Editions (Skipton) at £14.99 (hardback).
Happy Harry's blog
I'm the living embodiment of the spirit of the U's, and I'll be blogging whenever I've got news for you, as long as I don't miss my tea.