Careless Hands. The Forgotten Truth of Gary Sprake.

By Stuart Spake & Tim Johnson

Printed: 2006

Publisher: Tempus. London

Dimensions 17 × 24 × 3 cm

Language: English

Size (cminches): 17 x 24 x 3

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Item information


In the original dustsheet. Black cloth binding with gilt title on the spine.

  • F.B.A. provides an in-depth photographic presentation of this item to stimulate your feeling and touch. More traditional book descriptions are immediately available.

                                   A fascinating book

As a lifelong Leeds United fan and being old enough to have seen Gary Sprake play (on TV, David Harvey was the first keeper I saw live) I was pleased to see that the controversial goalie from the Revie era had finally released his memoirs. Like most Leeds fans, I remember Sprake as a decent keeper who made a few well publicised errors which were highlighted to give an unfair impression of his ability. After all, with over 500 games for one of the country’s top teams to his name, surely he can’t have been that bad! Any footballer’s story would contain a lot of content about football, but a well written account should also give plenty of insight into his personal life. The vast majority of Careless Hands consists of fawning praise for how well Sprake played in one match after another. These accounts are backed up by short quotes (in a different typeface) from reporters or players and Gary’s thoughts (in italics). The constant changes in typeface/style gives the text a poor appearance and don’t help readability. Sprake was no doubt grateful to his biographers for constantly hammering home the point that Gary couldn’t possibly have been the error prone keeper his detractors made him out to be, with all those brilliant saves he made. However, perhaps the editor should have suggested that mentioning this several times a page would be a distraction. We get 9 chapters of this, a quick chapter on the end of Sprake’s career, then another lengthy chapter labouring the point that his mistakes were few and heroics many. After taking 90% of the book convincing the reader that everyone is wrong about poor old Gary, we finally get to hear why he sold his soul to the dregs of the gutter that is the Daily Mirror (as it was called then). Of course, it was nothing to do with the money, after keeping quiet about “Don Readies” for so long he just had to get it off his chest… it was just a coincidence that he felt the urge to do this just as the Daily Mirror turned up with a fistful of fivers. The evidence against Revie was overwhelming; an accusation by renowned Leeds-hater Bob Stokoe that dated back to the early 60s that he too suddenly had an urge to get off his chest; accounts from another former (not Leeds) player who had been paid by the DM; and other vague accounts that even the authors describe as “whispers”. Yes, when I said overwhelming I was being sarcastic.

Finally, after the horrendously misjudged attempt to justify Sprake taking money from a gutter comic that had openly displayed its contempt of all things Leeds United (a tradition that continues to this day) ever since they had a sniff of success in the early 60s, we get another 2 chapters persuading us how amazing Gary was and how he was unfairly tarnished by his few mistakes. These chapters are cunningly titled “Retrospective” and “Postscript” in an attempt to disguise the fact that are merely regurgitated propaganda. I admire Sprake as much as I admire any other player from the Revie era. However, my admiration has been sullied by his pathetic attempts to justify taking money from a gutter rag well known for hating Leeds United and Don Revie. The authors fail to mention how the allegations were completely discredited. It’s a shame that Sprake didn’t have the guts to come clean.

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