11/12/2009

Flawed Genius Review

Flawed Genius: Scottish Football's Self-Destructive Mavericks

Andy Ritchie's football career never reached the heights it should have. He never succeeded at Celtic, he was never capped by Scotland (at full level), and he never got the big move his talent merited. In fact, Ritchie was only 28-years-old when he stopped playing. An age at which he should've been in his prime.

Stephen McGowan's Flawed Genius examines the reasons why Ritchie never quite fulfilled his potential. However, this isn't strictly McGowan's take on Ritchie. The chapter is more like an extended interview; an interview in which Ritchie comes across as a man full of regrets. Only now does he appear to acknowledge that a lot of his problems were of his own making: he was lazy, had weight issues, drank too much, smoked too much, gambled too much, and had a bad attitude. Reading the chapter it seems obvious that the demon drink is Ritchie's biggest problem. Something he himself admits: "I maintain I have never been an alcoholic, but I would concede this much: I've had my problems with alcohol."

As a Morton supporter I found it quite disheartening to read about how much he wished he left Cappielow, or in some cases, how much he regretted signing in the first place: "Had I known at the time [That Jock Stein tried to re-sign him for £170,000 weeks after letting him leave], I would have created merry hell to secure my return to full-time football." He goes on "It's difficult to explain in words how I felt about it years later. I just wish to Christ I had known it at the time."

To a neutral Ritchie's regret is understandable, but Ton fans who adored him on the terraces might feel slightly hurt to read that he now wishes he'd returned to Parkhead rather than experience the great times he did in Greenock. For this reason I found the chapter depressing reading in places. You come away feeling both sorry for Ritchie, and quite sad that it seems like a lot of his regret centres on the fact that he spent so long at Morton.

McGowan's chapter is unique in that it strips back the gloss and takes a look at the real Andy Ritchie. Not the player, but the man. If it's a glowing tribute supplemented by funny stories and anecdotes you're after then look elsewhere. But if you'd be interested to read about the man behind the myth and legend then I'd recommend this as essential reading.

Buy the book here: amazon.co.uk - Flawed Genius

2 comments:

Ally said...

Just one point for context purposes; Andy was unhappy much of the time because Hal Stewart's promises of full-time football and more cash never came to anything. He loved Morton and still does, but after three or four seasons of scoring goals for fun and playing brilliantly he was entitled to feel that the club would take his desire for a bigger stage into account. They didn't - they continued to ask for an exhorbitant transfer fee.

Craig said...

Makes us realise , if we forgot, that what Morton means to us supporters is not necessary what it means to others involved with the club.