John McNamee played football for Celtic, Hibs and Newcastle United in the golden era of the 1960s but, while famous names from the game's glory days pepper the pages, this book is about much more than football. John McNamee tells the story of the Coatbridge family in which he grew up, the illegitimate son of a girl who had already brought up her own siblings after the death of their parents. It is a snapshot, too, of a mining village in the decades running up to the death of an industry that had always been the backbone of the community. McNamee was bullied at school by pupils and teachers alike "for being a bastard" and struggled to learn as a result. His mother later married but her husband proved to be an often violent Jekyll and Hyde character, who took his spite out on his wife and stepson regularly. McNamee was forced to grow up quickly to help his mother care for the family that followed and to protect her from the beatings of her husband. From that childhood he emerged low on self-confidence, only at ease on the football pitch. To onlookers he seemed to have it all: good looks, health, a career and fame.
However, he never felt comfortable with the adoration and, even at the height of his playing days, he was so unsure of himself that he never tried to negotiate higher wages, simply signing on the dotted line each year. After marrying, and fathering four children, life for McNamee looked set fair at last, until his wife Rose died suddenly aged 41. The book details how he came through this tragedy, raised his children alone and saw them though university despite his financial difficulties. John McNamee tells of an ordinary man's experiences as a professional footballer and is a touching account of his personal struggle before, during and after his successful career in the sport.