Leeds United: A seriously funny game – that's football!

Former Leeds United and Everton midfielder Ian Snodin has written a new book, but it's not your usual run-of-the-mill tome about life as a professional player.

Ever heard the one about the former Leeds United footballer who manically drove up the M1 in the freezing cold with a carrier bag on his head....

That and scores more hilarious soccer anecdotes are contained in former Whites' midfield warrior Ian Snodin's belly-achingly funny book fittingly entitled "Snod This For A Laugh", which is about as far removed from formulaic footballing autobiographies as former sports commentator David Icke is from reality.

Sentimental recollections of glory days in league and cup in front of packed houses are conspicuous by their absence – not than Snodin didn't have a fair few, particularly during his days at Everton in the mid to late 80s.

It's anything but the equivalent of a cosy firechat chat and more to do with the banter associated with the tap rooms at hostelries along the length and breadth of the UK where working-class males tend to congregate.

The stories are man-in-the-street stuff – a fair few of them regaling tales of his time under father figure Billy Bremner at United where he spent an 18-month stint before moving to Everton for a cool 840,000 in early 1987.

The book's foreword states that "shy, retiring and teetotal" are three characteristics that couldn't be labelled at Snodin's door in a million years and neither could they be levelled at a host of leading players at leading clubs across the land back in the days when top-level football was still a working-class game and where working hard and playing hard and mixing with supporters went with the territory and was taken pretty much as read.

While Here We Go may have been an unofficial anthem in the blue half of Merseyside during Toffees legend Howard Kendall's trophy trail, it was more a case of Beer We Go with Snodin and his team-mates, who weren't just battling at the top of the league in the old Division One, but also the drinking stakes.

On his decision to compile a book devoted to his career, Snodin – a radio pundit in his 'second home' of Liverpool – said: "I was approached and asked if I fancied doing a book and to be fair, I wasn't.

"I'm not interested in autobiographies and stuff like that.

"But they said it wasn't one of those books where you read about when a player gets up for breakfast and all what they did in their career. They said they wanted it to be about all my funny stories in football about ex-players and team-mates - anything.

"So I had a little think about it and jotted one or two things down and said: 'Go on then, I will do!'

"Now it's finished and I've looked at it, it's quite good and there's some good stories about Gazza and Shearer and things like that and it's not a run-of-mill autobiography; where people get bored anyway!

"Obviously, it's about socializing and that's where you get your best stories when you are out with a bunch of lads.

"Now the game has changed so much that clubs don't really go out as a team after games and don't even have a players lounge where they can have a drink. It's all soft drinks and creches!

"Now there won't be many stories players can write about."

Having a considerable cast-list of characters to draw upon during his time at Everton and Leeds provided him with more than enough material, probably for one book alone.

Both sets of players shared a common liking for a good 'social', with the dressing room spirit at both something you could not buy with today's Sky millions, according to Snodin, where many self-interested players often live in their own 'bubble' and have no interest in the wider aspects of the club they are playing for, with their sole concern being making a fast buck.

Snodin said: "You talk to every ex-player and what they miss in football is the dressing-room banter of getting in there every morning and having a laugh and having a laugh after training when you are eating your dinner. That's what everybody misses and I'm no exception. It was fantastic.

"In terms of Leeds, there's a bit in the book about Billy and Shez (John Sheridan) and there were a few characters there.

"I actually palled about from the first day with Ian Baird. He lived at Thorpe Hesley near Rotherham. And with me being in Doncaster, the first day I got there, he pulled me and said: 'You live in Donny, don't you?'

"I thought he was really friendly and I said 'Yes'. And he just

said: 'Oh, you might be able to pick me up every day, I've been done for drink driving, I'm banned!'

"I became big, big pals with Bairdy, socially as well.

"We had a good spirit there and if we went out, it wasn't a matter or one or two, we all did!

"There were obviously some young lads there, such as Shez, Scott (Sellars) and Denis (Irwin), who lived together and they used to go out quite a bit.

"I'll always remember the incident with Dave Harle (at Leeds). That was one of the best laughs I had in my life. Me and Bairdy were in hysterics when Harley had a carrier bag on his head, going at 80 miles an hour in minus three, four weather. We were in his back seat with his dads sheepskin coat over us and he was driving with no windscreen in!

"I had a great time at Leeds, even though it was pretty short. Billy was fantastic. From the first day I signed for Doncaster until his funeral, I'll never forget him. He was unbelievable to me and what he did for his career.

"Not only that, he's was a world-class footballer. And to me, a world-class person; he was just like a dad to me.

"What a player. Even if there was five inches of mud at training, he'd turn up with a pair of trainers and we'd have long studs on and he'd still have better balance than any of us!"

After Everton won an intense tug-of-war with Mersey rivals Liverpool to sign Snodin, the side-splitting funnies continued and the beers continued to flow – more often to toast some halycon times at Goodison – with the Blues slugging it out toe to toe with the Reds from across

Stanley Park in the joust for honours each season with the city every inch the footballing capital of England while the likes of Manchester and London floundered.

Oneupmanship was everything on Merseyside with both clubs possessing an insatiable desire for footballing success with Everton that keen to unveil Snodin and lord it over their city rivals that his medical lasted a mere half-an-hour in comparison to his one at Leeds, which lasted the best part of two days.

Snodin's love affair with the Blues soon began – a club where men were treated as men and where letting your hair down with a few sherbets after doing the business on a Saturday wasn't expected, but almost written in black ink into your contract.

On heading across the M62 to Goodison, Snodin, now 47, said: "I remember my medical at Leeds lasted two days. And after signing for Everton, I thought it's going to be the same and so meticulous. "But I was literally there half an hour. It was a case of 'you have turned them down and you are signing no matter what!' No matter if I'd walked in on one leg, I think he'd still have signed me!

"When I did sign for Everton, there were no bigger drinkers or bigger footballers. But they were that good a team and they performed on the pitch.

"And then when they went for a drink, it was a great laugh and everyone turned up because the team spirit was fantastic and that's what got you along on the pitch on Saturday.

"It's changed now and with the money players are on, it's got that far away from spectators now.

"Now, there's a lot of foreign lads who are not really with our culture anyway. They will probably have a glass of wine after the game or at home or whatsoever.

"But I don't think you'll get the times like we had again. It wasn't just at Everton, it was every team – the Liverpools, Arsenals, they all liked a drink after a game. That's the way it was."

* IAN SNODIN – Snod This For a Laugh by Alan Jewell. RRP 14.99.

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