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No Smoke, No Fire By Dave Jones

Release date: 13th December, 2009
Publisher: Know The Score Books

List Price: £17.99
Our Price: £12.49
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No Smoke, No Fire
By Dave Jones
Know The Score Books

Sportsbookofthemonth.com price: £12.49, saving 33% on rrp

Cardiff City manager Dave Jones was recently asked whether it irked him to be reminded of the so-called dearth of top quality British football managers. "Listen," he responded, "you give me £200 million at Chelsea and see how a British manager copes; he'd do just as well."

It's a fair point made by a man who took Stockport to the Championship and was the first to take Wolves into the Premier League. Having guided Cardiff to the FA Cup final last year, he is presently engaged in plotting their return to the top flight for the first time since 1962. Automatic promotion is this season's goal for a man with a reputation for building solid footballing foundations.

His recently-released autobiography is a million miles from the standard footballer's efforts and makes for absolutely compelling reading.

He was a dependable, rather than spectacular, player with Everton, Coventry and Preston, a man who could be relied upon to defend well. His career coincided with the period immediately before football became awash with riches, which meant that upon his retirement from the game, he found himself needing to work to earn a living; he subsequently became a care worker.

Jones's book is not a rapid run-through of trophies won, players he encountered and the usual array of footballing anecdotes. Indeed, once his playing career is dealt with, the book takes a dramatic twist.

By June 1999, after he had been working as a manager for four years (he had replaced Graeme Souness at Southampton in 1997), he was asked to attend Wavertree Road police station in Liverpool as part of Operation Care, an investigation into alleged abuse in Merseyside children's homes during a period when Jones was employed as a care worker.

That fateful summer's day was to represent the start of an 18-month period of Jones's life that would have destroyed lesser men. When police officers returned to the windowless interview room where he waited and told him that he was being arrested and charged with physical abuse and sexual abuse of youngsters, the words, he says, "cut like a knife through my heart."

It's difficult to fathom how anyone can file such accusations when they have no basis in fact, but Jones had to prove it and this powerful autobiography explains not just how he managed it, but how he and his family coped while he was doing so.

While he received a succession of vile insults from opposing supporters, he is grateful for the support of managers such as Sir Alex Ferguson who had a word with him prior to Southampton's match against Manchester United at Old Trafford. Sir Alex made the point of walking out shoulder-to-shoulder with Jones before the game, a "magnificent gesture of support" he says, which helped convince United supporters (and no doubt millions of others) that Jones was innocent.

The case against Jones collapsed in early 2000 and it has taken this decent man almost a decade to achieve "some closure for my children and wife" as he explained recently. In No Smoke, No Fire, he has achieved what he set out to do. Few would begrudge him doing the same with Cardiff City.


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