I fondly remember getting this book from Brighton’s Children’s Library on Church Street in the mid-1980s:
It was an incredible find! A real children’s book with our own local footballer, Peter O’Sullivan, as its subject!
Needless to say, I was fascinated at the time to find out all about the lifestyles of professional footballers. Little did I know that pros gave each other piggy backs to stay fit:
…had to put on ties for when seeing the club physio:
…and had All-Bran for breakfast as part of their carefully chosen diet:
After a visit to St Peter’s School in Cowfold, our hero was interviewed by Radio Brighton. Then, the climax of the book centred around the Brighton v Leicester City match in February 1979, a match which Albion won 3-1. Now, records show that Sully didn’t score that day. However, artistic licence from the authors Allan and Christine Haddrell ensured that Peter is credited for getting the clinching goal directly from a free-kick.
In November last year, I had the pleasure of interviewing Peter O’Sullivan for Viva Brighton magazine (p.57). Towards the end, as well as giving him a spare copy, we got at the truth behind this beautiful book. He said: “Leave me alone! The book’s pretty frightening. I’ve tried to delete it from my memory. If you see here, I never did any warming up and stretching. The authors set me up with that one!
“And look at that – I didn’t score!”
Well, frankly, it doesn’t even look like Sully’s taking a free-kick, does it?.
At the end of the book, the players went on a plane to Jersey for a short holiday, which is well-documented in the Peter Ward biography as a disaster with Graham Moseley putting his hand through a glass window and the Albion players getting royally drunk. Good timing that this children’s book ended as the players got onto the British Caledonian plane!
Peter comments: “That was the worst weekend in history,” before correcting himself: “It was a good week. Sunday lunch – we had ten bottles of red wine, and they were gone in no time at all!”
But how the blazes did he get involved in a children’s book in the first place? Peter reveals all: “The chairman Mike Bamber asked me to do it. He said some guy is doing a children’s book. Will you do it? I said, all right. I don’t mind. He introduces me to this guy. Over a month or two we meet him once a week, sometimes at the ground and he’d take some photos. The players gave me some right stick: ‘Here’s that geezer again!’ It was a tough one! I thought I’d deleted all traces of the book from history, but many people have still got it. Classic! All I can say is the person behind it was a very good story teller, especially as I am still waiting for my money for that book! They truly stitched me up.”
If you wish to read the book in its entirety, you can see it from a desktop computer (with Adobe Flash installed) here, preserved online forever. Sorry, Peter!
Other books in the series include ‘A day with a stable girl’ 😛